2A-District 3 preview
When & where: Friday starting at noon at Englewood High School. Finals are scheduled, per the FHSAA website, to begin after the first round is complete.
Team outlook: Orange Park, Oakleaf and Middleburg have all been ranked in the area’s top 10 this season (the Raiders and Broncos all season, and Knights after a torrid January) and the duals between these teams have been as competitive as they can get this year. Who will win between the three Clay County teams in an IBT format? At this point, I’m going to lean toward the Raiders defending, but it should be much more competitive than a year ago. I could see the final margin of victory being less than 20 points this year, maybe even less than 10. With strong days and a few mis-steps, both Middleburg and Oakleaf are more than poised to step into the breach. I would put Ed White in for fourth as a team. Where the Commanders have wrestlers, they’ll be particularly strong, but they have too many holes in the lineup to challenge for the team title. Lee, Ridgeview and Englewood make up the rest of the middle of the pack, with Stanton and Terry Parker toward the back.
Projected competitors in alpha order (with unofficial Matmen records): Storm Cowart (Ridgeview, 9-22); Leo Galeas (Englewood, 6-13); Jaren Jefferson (Lee, 25-8); Ryan Rosano (Oakleaf, 25-6); Dylan Rossetti (Middleburg, 31-5); Frank Sawyer (Orange Park, 21-6). No expected wrestlers for Ed White, Stanton and Terry Parker.
Projected finish: 1. Rossetti. 2. Rosano. 3. Jefferson. 4. Sawyer.
The skinny: Just six wrestlers in the bracket, but this is a very solid and battle-tested, potentially, group of qualifiers that would come out of this weight class. On the one head-to-head, Rosano (10th locally, 14th statewide) comes into the tournament with the edge, having knocked off Rossetti (1st locally) and ending his unbeaten run with a 4-2 decision. Since then, both Rosano and Rossetti have had some setbacks, but they appear to be the class of a solid four semifinalists. For my mind, having gone through the postseason once before will matter. I think Jefferson has the edge on Sawyer, but not by much. In fact, given that Sawyer also has a win over Rossetti — which Rossetti got back — this should be a fun bracket to kick things off here.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Ivory Durham (Lee, 15-9); Roderick Evans (Ed White, 16-4); Vince Karl (Oakleaf, 19-8); Marcus Reid (Orange Park, 29-2); Robert Sheridan (Middleburg, 8-6); Alex Toney (Stanton, 11-14); Chris Walker (Terry Parker, 7-0). No expected wrestlers for Englewood or Ridgeview.
Projected finish: 1. Reid. 2. Evans. 3. Karl. 4. Durham.
The skinny: I don’t expect that Reid (2nd locally, 7th statewide) will be challenged…this week. Reid hasn’t seen the Duval challengers, but I think he should probably be able to take their measure, and he has a fall over Karl in the one meeting they’ve had. Evans (8th locally) is the best from Duval in the 2As, but I could see several different combinations for third and fourth, as Sheridan has been in some big tournaments duing the course of the year. I would definitely have liked to see how a full season would have gone for Walker, but since he’s been in the lineup he’s, obviously done well enough.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Justin Cowell (Stanton, 6-12); Bailey Custer (Middleburg, 17-18); Johnathan Galeas (Englewood, 12-15); Jessica Gardepe (Terry Parker, 6-28); Chris Griffin (Oakleaf, 28-4); Victor Perez (Orange Park, 11-6); Justin Trinh (Ridgeview, 19-9); Darius Wells (Lee, 10-24). No expected wrestler for Ed White.
Projected finish: 1. Griffin. 2. Trinh. 3. Perez. 4. Custer.
The skinny: On the records alone, one might expect Griffin (5th locally, 12th statewide) to be the head-and-shoulders favorite, and with respect to most of the field, he is. But the head-to-head matchup he has had with Trinh was a close one (5-3 in Griffin’s favor) and that might make for a great final. Griffin has been seeking out other teams’ best lights during the course of the season, though, bumping up even to face ranked competitors, and he has won 19 of his last 20 matches, with the only loss coming against 1A state finalist William Pickren, who spoke well of Griffin to me at Clay Rotary. After Griffin and Trinh, I think there’s some room for an enterprising wrestler to jump into the mix, or for the mix to shuffle up a bit. Although Custer, for example, is sub-.500, he’s seen some strong competition this year.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Trevor Belden (Ridgeview, 20-5); Tyrese Germain (Orange Park, 36-6); Tanner Kern (Englewood, 13-16); Zachary Locke (Stanton, 6-21); Tristan Tollison (Middleburg, 19-19); Austin Witt (Lee, 8-24); Riggs Wolf (Oakleaf, 11-9). No expected wrestlers for Ed White or Terry Parker.
Projected finish: 1. Germain. 2. Belden. 3. Tollison. 4. Wolf.
The skinny: This bracket could potentially match up two District 3 champions from last year in Germain (6th locally, 10th statewide) and Belden (10th locally, 15th statewide). Between the two, Germain has seen stronger competition this year, although the two haven’t faced each other yet. Germain has faced Tollison already, with a pair of pins to his credit, and bumped up when Orange Park took on Oakleaf. Tollison has a pin over Wolf, and the pair of them are probably ahead of the rest of the field.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Codie Benton (Middleburg, 10-6); Christopher Champine (Lee, 11-20); Kirtis Davis (Orange Park, 12-5); Zakery Dick (Terry Parker, 3-8); Stephen Hlawnchhing (Stanton, 15-12); Juwan Lee (Ed White, 16-2); Tristen Roderick (Oakleaf, 18-5); McKenzie Williams (Ridgeview, 20-9). No expected wrestler for Englewood.
Projected finish: 1. Lee. 2. Roderick. 3. Davis. 4. Williams.
The skinny: I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted to at the Orange Park 10-Way Duals last month, but while I was there I saw what in a lot of ways might have been the best match I ran across in 2014-15, when Lee (6th locally, 15th statewide) and Roderick (9th locally) wrestled, both a weight up, in one of the duals contested that day. Lee won that match, 5-4, and it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they stage another one just like it in the finals Friday night. Watch for it. It should be a treat. Davis has the experience advantage, but Williams has won 13 of his last 16 matches, so is coming in on a bit of a roll. I would think Davis and Williams would be the strongest competitors out of the non-finalists.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Aaron Base (Lee, 11-10); Jonathan Johnson (Terry Parker, 6-14); Detrall Lanier (Oakleaf, 17-9); Zach McClinton (Middleburg, 36-5); Mitchell Mika (Stanton, 18-13); Nick Robinson (Ridgeview, 13-20); Dashner St. Vilus (Orange Park, 15-9); Darien Tucker (Ed White, 18-4); Dustin Williams (Englewood, 22-7).
Projected finish: 1. McClinton. 2. Tucker. 3. Lanier. 4. Williams.
The skinny: While this might not necessarily be the deepest bracket 1-9 in the district, it might be the deepest set of semifinalists in the group, with two state-ranked wrestlers in the group in McClinton (3rd locally, 7th statewide), Tucker (7th locally, 16th statewide) and one former state-ranked wrestler in Lanier in this group. Williams is probably Englewood’s best wrestler at any weight, and St. Vilus and Mika are lurking out there, ready for an upset. But McClinton stands alone at the top, and I would guess he won’t be pushed very hard en route to this title. Tucker vs. Lanier could be a very nice semifinal to watch indeed.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Judah Brown (Lee, 14-13); Dalton Deckerhoff (Terry Parker, 9-14); Isaiah Graham (Oakleaf, 6-13); Jordan Harbin (Orange Park, 26-10); Tyeas James (Ridgeview, 10-13); Keath Sawdo (Middleburg, 25-8); Justin Stoddard (Ed White, 5-12); Matthew Tran (Stanton, 7-11); Tavian Whitehead (Englewood, 23-8).
Projected finish: 1. Sawdo. 2. Harbin. 3. Whitehead. 4. James.
The skinny: Where there are multiple head-to-head matchups in District 3, they’ve usually gone all one wrestler’s way. Not this one. Sawdo (6th locally, 14th statewide) defeated Harbin first, 6-2, only to have Harbin (8th locally) return the favor at the St Johns River Conference meet with a 12-8 win. This will be, along with 132, probably one of the most tightly-contested final-round matches of the day. While I don’t think Whitehead is at their level, I think he’s ahead of everyone else. Fourth place, however, is certainly up in the air. Ridgeview could nab it, but so could Lee, so could Oakleaf and perhaps Terry Parker as well. This is the last bracket that will have wrestlers from all nine teams in it.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Tony Belle (Lee, 29-3); Lucas Karl (Oakleaf, 14-7); Devonta Malcolm (Ed White, 12-10); Travis Neubeck (Middleburg, 29-9); Dillon Richardson (Ridgeview, 9-9); Ricky Torres (Orange Park, 21-9). No expected wrestlers for Englewood, Stanton or Terry Parker.
Projected finish: 1. Neubeck. 2. Belle. 3. Karl. 4. Torres.
The skinny: I think it comes down to a battle of competition. Neubeck (5th locally, 7th statewide) has just seen more of what the state has to offer than has Belle (9th locally). Still, though, Belle hasn’t lost since falling in the finals of the Gateway Conference meet six weeks ago. Neubeck has three wins over Torres this year (tech, pin and decision, in that order), and has a fall over Karl as well. He should be the favorite. For third, I would take Karl over Torres, as Karl has a decision in hand. I would guess there would be a gap between Torres and Malcolm. But of the six in this field, there aren’t any walkovers in the group.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Daryn Brown (Ridgeview, 18-12); Andre Carter (Oakleaf, 17-7); Justin Griffis (Englewood, 14-13); Sergio Jordan (Ed White, 15-3); Tyler Langford (Middleburg, 19-6); Ryan Tarver (Terry Parker, 4-16); Skyler Taylor (Orange Park, 27-3); Myles Thompkins (Lee, 6-12). No expected wrestler for Stanton.
Projected finish: 1. Taylor. 2. Langford. 3. Carter. 4. Jordan.
The skinny: With pins over Langford, and Carter, and Griffis, it’s hard to look anywhere else but Taylor (4th locally, 12th statewide) as the favorite to win the weight class. All of his losses are outside of 2A. But that all being said, this is a pretty solid group of qualifiers. I would take Langford, but perhaps only as a slight favorite, over Carter and Jordan (8th locally), but it would not surprise me to see this order of finish shuffle up a bit before it’s all over. Brown and Griffis, too, could make some surprises in this weight class. The advantages that anyone might enjoy, after the gap between Taylor and the rest of the group, are razor-thin.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Austin Clarkson (Englewood, 16-8); Josh Detrick (Oakleaf, 15-11); Devon Farrar (Ridgeview, 31-7); Andrew Holdman (Ed White, 8-4); David Johnson (Lee, 14-8); Nartorian Lee (Orange Park, 16-15); Jonathan Shoen (Middleburg, 28-7); Aniah Williams (Terry Parker, 6-4). No expected wrestler for Stanton.
Projected finish: 1. Farrar. 2. Shoen. 3. Detrick. 4. Holdman.
The skinny: This should be one of the more interesting, and highly competitive, brackets, for even though Farrar (8th locally, 7th statewide) would appear to be an overwhelming favorite based upon the resume he’s built this season (with wins over three different District 4 champions alone, among many others), he had to overcome a tough challenge in his one meeting with local 10th-ranked Detrick (an 8-6 win) and he’ll have to contend with a very athletic Shoen (9th locally) as well. The Duval contingent is solid, with Holdman built like a tank and capable of wrestling as well (reaching the 5 Star finals), both Clarkson and Johnson fully capable of making a run for a fourth-place spot, and Williams is fresh off a girls’ state title. And then there’s Lee, who seems to have found a home at this higher weight after spending a good chunk of the year at 152. There really isn’t a very easy out in this weight class.
Projected competitors in alpha order: (possibly) Michel Augustine (Englewood, 6-2); Thomas Baker (Lee, 7-13); (possibly) Robert Carley (Ed White, 3-12); Jason Davis (Oakleaf, 26-1); Noah Hearn (Ridgeview, 8-12); Kurt Jackson (Middleburg, 23-13) Aquana McCalop (Terry Parker, 24-7). No expected wrestlers for Orange Park or Stanton.
Projected finish: 1. Davis. 2. Jackson. 3. McCalop. 4. Hearn.
The skinny: When Davis (2nd locally at 195, 7th statewide at this weight) made the drop from 195 to 182, he lost no strength and seemed to get even faster on the mat, which is not good news for those in his path. He already was the class of 2A wrestlers locally at 195 (at a minimum), with his one loss a 6-3 decision against 3A #2 (at 195) Chei Hill. Davis controlled the pace against Lincoln’s Jerrin Gilmore (the clear favorite to win the 2A-2 bracket at 182), and already has a pin in hand against Jackson, who should be his strongest competition in this bracket. Jackson’s combinations should carry him past McCalop, who in turn has a significant edge against the rest of the group. McCalop’s one of the area’s most improved this season. Augustine and Baker are possible wildcards for the fourth spot.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Chasen Irvine (Orange Park, 28-11); Atyrus McDonald (Ed White, 9-6); Ammon Meeks (Middleburg, 28-14); Xavier Nieves (Englewood, 15-6); Kaleb Seymore (Terry Parker, 7-4); David Thompson (Oakleaf, 15-9); Jaron Weatherspoon (Lee, 17-11). No expected wrestlers for Ridgeview or Stanton.
Projected finish: 1. Irvine. 2. Meeks. 3. Thompson. 4. Nieves.
The skinny: This weight class should be a Clay County party also, with Irvine (ranked 8th locally) at the head of it. Irvine had a pair of pins over Meeks at the St Johns River Conference meet three weeks ago and pinned Nieves at Super 6 in December at Englewood. He hasn’t faced Thompson yet this season, but Meeks has, twice, and won both times. Sometimes the transitive property works that way. Thompson recently dropped down from 220 to 195 at Clay Rotary, and the move seemed to do some good. Both Meeks and Thompson have improved significantly over last season, when the pair were teammates for the Broncos. If you’re looking for a dark horse, I would look at Weatherspoon as a upset possibility.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Edward Colon (Lee, 13-13); Vernon Jackson (Ed White, 11-7); Andy Meda (Terry Parker, 8-6); Sean Tairovski-Romeu (Oakleaf, 10-8); Eric Tejada (Orange Park, 29-6); (possibly) Nicholas Wiggins, Englewood (8-9); Brandon Wilkerson (Ridgeview, 7-22). No expected wrestlers for Middleburg or Stanton.
Projected finish: 1. Tejada. 2. Tairovski-Romeu. 3. Jackson. 4. Colon.
The skinny: After Tejada (6th locally), I am not sure about this one. Several of the region-capable wrestlers in the mix have either spent only half a season on the mat (Wiggins and Meda come to mind here), or have spent time at 195 (Jackson) or even 182 (Tairovski-Romeu). As a result, with so much movement and wrestlers coming in and leaving, there’s not a lot of opportunities for this group to have met up. Moving up to this higher weight can sometimes be challenging, which is why it might not surpise me if Colon shuffled up a spot or two on the podium, or if Meda wound up advancing. One thing’s for sure: Tejada is far and away the strongest wrestler in this weight class.
Projected competitors in alpha order: Demetris Harris (Lee, 27-6); Kelton Johnson (Ed White, 21-1); Derrick Mason (Englewood, 23-7); Ronald Milner (Ridgeview, 9-10); Jessie Williams (Orange Park, 24-13). No expected wrestlers from Middleburg, Oakleaf, Stanton Terry Parker.
Projected finish: 1. Johnson. 2. Harris. 3. Mason. 4. Williams.
The skinny: With two area top-five wrestlers in this field (Johnson is 1st locally, 7th statewide; Harris is fifth locally) and another that’s flirted with the top 10 in Mason, it’s a pretty strong field, and I project a Duval 1-2-3 finish. Johnson has three wins in hand over Harris, with two pins and a Gateway Conference semifinal OT win in the past. Harris, in turn, has a win by decision over Mason that he secured at Gateway, as well as a pin over Milner and some other solid wins to his credit outside of 2A-3. Williams is the one outsider in the group, and hasn’t seen either of the finalist picks, but did lose to Mason by fall at the Englewood. Williams has started to put things together, however, and I’d expect things to be a bit closer if/should they happen to meet in a third-place match.