1A-District 3 preview capsule

1A-District 3
Team synopsis: Last year’s district tournament at Yulee was a fantastic three-way battle for the top spot. Although Bishop Snyder had one of its weaker tournaments of the year, the Cardinals still managed to get nine wrestlers into the finals and thus secure the title.

This year, it’s going to be another crazy battle at the top. In a lot of ways, this is my favorite district. Razor-thin margins between teams, a lot of competitive drama between the schools that extends beyond the wrestling mat, and some unbelievably gifted athletes and hard-working wrestlers can be found here.

Yulee has a high degree of talent among its returners, but graduation losses may hurt the Hornets unless they find a consistent lineup early this season. West Nassau and Westside should push hard for top-three spots as well. I’ve said this a couple of times: if Raines ever fields a full team, with the same level of athleticism as it has now, the Vikings would run away and hide with this title. They will pose threats in IBT formats with the quality they have.

Projected finish: 1. Yulee. 2. West Nassau. 3. Westside. 4. Raines. 5. Baker County. 6. Bishop Snyder. 7. Fernandina Beach. 8. Paxon. 9. Andrew Jackson.

Andrew Jackson Tigers
Coach: Joe Warren, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 7-15 in duals. 12th at Gateway Conference, 8th at 1A-District 3 meet, 26th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Tracy Russell (district 3rd, 22-5 at 160 in 13-14).
Juniors: Rashad McClain (district 4th, 27-7 at 195 in 13-14), Travaris Shanks (11-15 at 285 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Already plagued with numbers issues a year ago, Jackson was further hampered by two key transfers out. Russell has a tremendous amount of raw ability.

Baker County Wildcats
Coach: Hank Fisher, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 13-18 in duals. 5th at Optimist Invitational, 6th at 1A-District 3 meet, 16th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-69th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Simon Brown (10-7 at 152 in 13-14), Brandon Harvey (district champ, region 3rd, 38-8 at 132 in 13-14), Logan Kish (district 4th, 20-11 at 138 in 13-14), Sean Mulkey (21-13 at 182 in 13-14), Jonathan Ruise (19-7 at 145 in 13-14).
Juniors: Collyn Green (21-9 at 285 in 13-14), Caleb Griffin (5-17 at 160 in 13-14), Anthony Johnson (6-15 at 170 in 13-14), Shawn Martin (9-19 at 120 in 13-14), Sydney Williams (district 4th, 11-11 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Fisher came in under trying circumstances, but he’s actually got quite a bit to work with. Don’t be surprised if BCHS cracks the top half of the district.

Bishop Snyder Cardinals
Coach: Jeremy Mosley, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 28-7 in duals. 7th at Westside Kiwanis, 5th at GCS Rotary, 1A-District 3 champ, 7th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-16th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Nathaniel Cleland (district runnerup, 36-15 at 170 in 13-14), Nicholas Cleland (district champ, 37-11 at 220 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Brenden Bizier (21-19 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Graduation and the shift in schedule did a number on the Cardinals’ off-season. Mosley knows how to win, though, and he’ll find a way to continue Bishop Snyder’s progress.

Fernandina Beach Pirates
Interim coach: Jay Helm, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 9-10 in duals. 3rd at Rob Bierman Invite, 19th at GCS Rotary, 3rd at 1A-District 3 meet, 6th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-52nd at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Jesse Henn (4-11 at 152 in 13-14), Jesse Lovitt (6-9 at 145 in 13-14), Matthew Schuyler (8-9 at 160 in 13-14), Jade Welsh (district 4th, 18-18 at 132 in 13-14).
Juniors: Rafael Charriez (district 3rd, 12-19 at 106 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Joseph Helm (district runnerup, 21-8 at 120 in 13-14), Zachary Watson (district 3rd, 11-6 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: A lot of graduation losses to overcome for the Pirates, and that may be tough to overcome at the start. Returners have to start jelling fast in Fernandina.

Paxon Golden Eagles
Coach: Not known at press time.
2013-14: 6-18 in duals. 12th at Optimist Invitational, 9th at Gateway Conference, 9th at 1A-District 3 meet, 29th at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Osiris Mancera (7-13 at 126 in 13-14), Anthony Dukes (district 3rd, 23-11 at 160 in 13-14), Torry Williams (15-7 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: Michael Hutchinson (7-11 at 138 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Adam Foster (9-12 at 113 in 13-14), Darius Veals (9-13 at 132 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Whoever takes over for the Golden Eagles will have hard-working kids and two solid wrestlers in Dukes and Williams. Both could make it to region this year.

Raines Vikings
Coach: Brian Gilbert, 7th year in position.
2013-14: 4-7 in duals. 59th at Lakeland Invite, 28th at GCS Rotary, T-10th at Billy Saylor Invite, 13th at Gateway, 7th at 1A-District 3 meet, 19th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-59th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Jermaine Oliver (district runnerup, region runnerup, 27-7 at 182 in 13-14).
Juniors: Tyrann Baxter (district 4th, 13-8 at 170 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Joseph Haynes (district champ, 11-3 at 106 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Team might struggle, still, in dual meets, but Oliver and transfer Demonta Bell are among the most fun kids to watch anywhere in the area. Gilbert also picked up another Jackson transfer in Daisan Biffle, and that should help the Vikings in the lowers.

West Nassau Warriors
Coach: Frederick Avery, 1st year in position.
2013-14: 10-13 in duals. 7th at Optimist Invitational, 4th at 1A-District 3 meet, 18th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-55th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Michael Dudzinski (district champ, region runnerup, 37-4 at 160 in 13-14), John Forehand (district 4th, 15-9 at 145 in 13-14), Jackson Moyle (district 4th, 22-8 at 13-14), Bradley Sikes (district 4th, 18-10 at 220 in 13-14), TJ Thompson (district 4th, 20-10 at 120 in 13-14).
Juniors: Brandon Bostick (district runnerup, 14-8 at 113 in 13-14), Trevor Higginbotham (7-8 at 152 in 13-14).
Sophomores: Zach Morgan (5-14 at 182 in 13-14), Seth Petty (7-11 at 195 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: Avery’s crew is going to push Yulee hard for the Nassau County title, and for the district title as well. Dudzinski was probably the strongest area wrestler — certainly strongest among area 1A kids — not to medal at state last year; you will search long and wide to find someone to outwork him.

Westside Wolverines
Coach: Christopher McNealy, 2nd year in position.
2013-14: 8-11 in duals. 5th at Gateway Conference, 5th at 1A-District 3 meet, 23rd at 1A-Region 1 meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Malik Brown (13-10 at 195 in 13-14), Dushaun Manning (6-10 at 145 in 13-14), Brian Thomas (district 3rd, 19-9 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: Dominique Williams (district 4th, 15-15 at 160 in 13-14).
Sophomores: George Dale (district 4th, 21-12 at 126 in 13-14), Delmontae Davis (district 4th, 14-12 at 113 in 13-14), Aniko Patterson (district 3rd, 15-10 at 120 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: McNealy has changed the culture at Westside as it begins its first year under a new school name. There were some big losses, but it’s the younger kids that show so much promise for what the program could become.

Yulee Hornets
Coach: Brandon Crowder, 7th year in position.
2013-14: Duals record unknown. 8th at Columbia Invite, 15th at Westside Kiwanis, 2nd at 1A-District 3 meet, 15th at 1A-Region 1 meet, T-69th at 1A state meet.
Returning starters (15+ matches):
Seniors: Daniel Beverly (district runnerup, 25-12 at 152 in 13-14).
Juniors: RJ Adams (district champ, 19-9 at 170 in 13-14).
Sophomores: John Parker (district champ, 20-13 at 113 in 13-14).
NEFLM’s take: A lot of part-time starters showed flashes of brilliance for the Hornets last year, and for them to finish where I think they will, those kids will have to stay in the lineup all season. Some talented young kids that have worked all summer will have to keep showing that talent now that the season has begun.

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I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in both 1992 and again in 2011. But I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. We combined those sites into North Florida Matmen in the summer of 2018. And, we've started South Georgia Matmen in November of 2018. Our work is never paywalled, our content is searchable for all time. We're here because the kids keep lacing 'em up, so we'll keep writing 'em up.

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