1A-District 3 meet preview
When & where: Saturday starting at 10 a.m. Although finals on the FHSAA website are scheduled for 7 p.m., I’ve been led to understand that finals will be more a late-afternoon thing, after the semis.
Team outlook: Who keeps Clay from another district title? No one this year. The #2 (both Matmen and statewide in 1A) Blue Devils should be able to string their district-title streak to 17, and I would guess that Yulee will be the solid favorite for the runnerup spot. From there, it gets a bit more interesting. Preseason, I would have said Westside and midyear I would have said West Nassau, but it might be Baker County that closes with enough power for third. Should be those three, in some order, for 3-5. Raines should finish ahead of Fernandina Beach and Bishop Snyder.
Individual projections (Yulee records incomplete due to missing results)
Prediction: 1. Louie Gagliardo, Clay (39-5). 2. Cole Cushman, Baker County (19-3). 3. Gavin Loring, Yulee (17-14). 4. Ahmad Jenkins, Raines (8-9).
Snapshot: Already, the hedging begins…not at the top, where Gagliardo (Matmen #1, statewide #4) should run through the bracket. Not sure if Cushman (Matmen HM) or Sydney Williams (12-8) will be at 6, I’d move Loring and Jenkins up if Williams is the 6 but she would still get out…I seem to remember being told at one point by Brian Gilbert that Lehman Buggest (17-5) could get down here for the Vikings, and if he could, he certainly would be in the mix for third, maybe even second, even if Cushman were Baker’s 106. There are no 106s for West Nassau (sadly, injured Dallas Mumford would have been a runnerup threat), Westside or Fernandina Beach. Elijah Bishop (3-25) started the year at 106 for Bishop Snyder but has missed a couple of events…
Prediction: 1. Chris Merring, Clay (26-7). 2. Jake Blount, West Nassau (27-6). 3. Buggest / Anthony Haynes (17-14), Raines. 4. Isaac Parker, Westside (16-14).
Snapshot: Merring (Matmen #3, statewide #2) already got a state-level challenge just winning his wrestleoff this week, but could get another against Blount (Matmen #5, statewide #8). Should Cushman decide his better fortune is at 113 (which might be better this week but maybe not next), I would put him in for third here. Straight up, though, I see Raines as ahead of Parker and Parker ahead of Williams or Carson Padgett (6-10) from Baker, JP Vilonueva of Bishop Snyder (7-25) and Mason Putman (8-7) of Yulee, if he’s able to go — he hasn’t competed in some time. No 113 for Fernandina Beach.
Prediction: 1. Dylan Youmans, Yulee (30-2). 2. Dylan Taylor, Clay (32-12). 3. Joseph Haynes, Raines (25-8). 4. Jacob Hulbert, West Nassau (16-22).
Snapshot: This should be a very strong final between Youmans (#12 statewide) and Taylor (Matmen #5, statewide #7), I’m taking the experience (junior vs. freshman) there, but there will be some statewide attention on this one…Haynes (Matmen #7) should be move through, but the Gateway champ will have to take a big step up to make the final…Hulbert should be the favorite to get out over Baker County’s Shelbie Martin (12-11) and possibly Jordan Arnold of Fernandina Beach (5-9), but Arnold hasn’t wrestled in a while…No 120s for Westside or Bishop Snyder.
Prediction: 1. Dale Browning, Clay (37-5). 2. Jaquan English, Raines (44-4). 3. Zach Watson, Yulee (18-13). 4. Rafael Charriez, Fernandina Beach (14-14).
Snapshot: Browning (Matmen and statewide #2) & English (Matmen #3, statewide #6), barring injury, will be the final, and like a few of the other finals, will have statewide implications…I’m taking Watson, on points, over Charriez, for third, but I’ve been wrong about both before…this bracket could be one of the deeper ones, with either Robbie Martin (15-8) or Jordan Johnson (13-15) for Baker and Malik Hardison (12-12) for Westside, and they’ll pose challenges. Haven’t seen Enoch Sipes (8-13) for West Nassau in a while, he could be here for the Warriors. No 126 for Bishop Snyder.
Prediction: 1. Derek Miller, Clay (34-6). 2. Blaine Dorsey, Yulee (20-3). 3. Brenden Bizier, Bishop Snyder (25-12). 4. Devon Cole, Baker County (16-12).
Snapshot: Look for Miller (Matmen #1, statewide #3) to control this bracket, but he could have a number of different possibilities to join him in the final…Dorsey is a quietly solid Hornet wrestler…Matmen #9 Bizier has won some bigger matches already this season, and Cole has also provien himself as well…if any of them should falter, Westside’s Keyvonta Broadwater (15-17) or West Nassau’s Brandon Bostick (8-14) are more than capable of snapping up a region spot…No 132s for Raines or Fernandina Beach.
Prediction: 1. Julian Summa, Clay (34-5). 2. John Parker, Yulee (26-4). 3. William Tharpe, West Nassau (25-7). 4. Daisean Biffle, Raines (29-9).
Snapshot: Summa (Matmen #2, statewide #1) has the ranking to defend and the perspective gained from spending the 2015 post-season on the sidelines that will help him defend it…there will be challenges this weekend that will not make it easy. In an almost-tossup matchup, I’ll take the home mat with Parker over Matmen HM-listed Tharpe, but don’t count out Biffle (Matmen #10, statewide #13), who’s tended to perform at higher levels outside the city…don’t overlook Westside’s Jacob Boyd (12-7), who has the potential to get through as well, as might Cole — if he’s here and not at 132…those guys might have more experience than Bishop Snyder’s Johnathan Bokros (5-28)…No 138 for Fernandina Beach.
Prediction: 1. Keath Sawdo, Clay (23-8). 2. Delmontae Davis, Westside (27-8). 3. Levi Mumford, West Nassau (20-13). 4. David Dry (7-11) / Grant Stanish (6-7), Yulee.
Snapshot: Competition in the room and on the schedule can matter a lot, and it could make the difference in the final between Sawdo (Matmen #2, statewide #6) and Davis (Matmen #7) in a matchup of similar approaches. I’d call Mumford (HM at 152) the clear choice for third, with the Yulee representative holding the upper hand over Baker County’s Earl Starling (4-5), Fernandina’s Christian Crews (9-10) and Bishop Snyder’s Thomas Graden (6-27)…No 145 for Raines.
Prediction: 1. Connor Green, Clay (24-13). 2. Joseph Helm, Fernandina Beach (24-3). 3. Matthew Gathright, Westside (22-13). 4. Dylan Dial, Yulee (10-14).
Snapshot: Green (Matmen #7, statewide #6) has the schedule advantage and the room advantage, and those can be big at crunch time, but Helm (Matmen HM) has been both area- and state-ranked as well this year, with basically just one below-average tournament at Raines marring an otherwise good season. Gathright is the best of the rest of the group, and needs to wrestle like it, with Dial and Caleb Grffin of Baker County (9-7) both capable of making challenges…Raines’ Joshua McAfee (3-16) should also be in the mix…No 152s for West Nassau or Bishop Snyder.
Prediction: 1. Caleb Gibbs, Westside (30-6). 2. Azim Hameed, Bishop Snyder (20-7). 3. Garrett Weseman, Clay (11-17). 4. Chance Terrell, West Nassau (10-6).
Snapshot: Gibbs (Matmen #8) has quietly amassed a solid resume this season, and might be the Wolverines’ top performer, but that doesn’t mean, necessarily, that he’ll have a walk to the title. If Hameed (Matmen HM) is here and not at 170, he has won enough matches on enough stages to make it interesting, and don’t be surprised if Weseman were to make the final. Depending on draws, this is a pretty wide-open weight, with James Burnett (12-14) for Baker County, Kris Maxie (6-10) for Yulee and Alex Duncan (6-8), possibly, for Fernandina Beach. No 160 for Raines.
Prediction: 1. Caleb Steinmetz, Clay (34-13). 2. Blake Dicks, Baker County (17-12). 3. Daniel Hill, West Nassau (22-12). 4. John Jones, Westside (15-17).
Snapshot: Although he took more losses at home at Rotary than he wanted, I see Steinmetz (Matmen #6, statewide #7) as a solid favorite for the bracket in this group, but he could see either Dicks or Hill in the finals…They both have a gap between themselves and Westside’s Jones, who should be ahead of Fernandina Beach’s Nathan Manning (6-9) and either David Pansante (6-6) or Michael Crawford (1-10) from Yulee. No 170s for Raines or Bishop Snyder.
Prediction: 1. RJ Adams, Yulee (26-0). 2. Abbott Taylor, Clay (13-10). 3. Bradley Lucas, Fernandina Beach (18-7). 4. Christian Wilkerson, Westside (7-5).
Snapshot: I’m not imagining that Adams (9th statewide) would finish anywhere but first in his final time on the home mats for the Hornets, but he could get challenges from Taylor (Matmen #10), who’s won some big ones just recently, including finishing 1 match short of placing at Clay Rotary…Lucas (Matmen HM at this weight, #14 statewide at 195) can certainly make finals and Wilkerson, who got a late start, was a region qualifier in 2014-15…those should be ahead of either of Bryce Burnsed (6-12) or John/Owen Evans (11-14) from West Nassau, as well as Raines’ Dondre Stephens (9-20)…No 182 for Bishop Snyder.
Prediction: 1. Kaleb Collins, Clay (31-6). 2. Jahcoassy Leo, Raines (21-8). 3. Daniel Boylan (11-14) / Jobe Hannan (7-15), West Nassau. 4. Richard Murray, Westside (5-8).
Snapshot: Here’s what we believe we know — Collins (#2 Matmen & statewide) is the overwhelming favorite to win the bracket and Leo (Matmen HM) is the overwhelming favorite to join him in the finals…after that, it gets pretty interesting…Yulee’s Donny Avera (5-6) could be in the top-four mix, as could Baker County’s Josh Ossmann (8-19) and either David Sturgis (3-6) or Justin Sabia (0-10) of Fernandina Beach…the consi rounds could be hotly-contested…No 195 for Bishop Snyder.
Prediction: 1. Jeremy Beaulieu, Clay (7-1). 2. Corey Paine, Baker County (24-5). 3. Blake Hodges, West Nassau (18-11). 4. TJ Holten, Yulee (8-17).
Snapshot: Beaulieu (Matmen #3, statewide #9) didn’t make it back to wrestling until earlier this month, but has shone in his brief time back, with seven pins and an overtime loss thus far this season…Paine (Matmen #7, statewide #14) is a solid customer and threat to make the state tournament as well, but will have to overcome Beaulieu’s strength on top…Hodges is solidly ahead of the rest of the field, with Holten projected to come out on top over Westside’s Kenneth Brown (4-9), Fernandina’s Robbie Elefterion (3-6) and Bishop Snyder’s Mark Morante (3-26). No expected 220 for Raines.
Prediction: 1. Roland Samec, Clay (19-5). 2. Tariq Hookfin, Westside (26-6). 3. Travaris Shanks, Raines (14-14). 4. McKenzie Lewis, Yulee (11-9).
Snapshot: Samec (Matmen #4, statewide #9) and Hookfin (Matmen #9) should be well ahead of the remaining heavies to make the finals, and could have an interesting matchup…Shanks would be favored over Lewis and Baker County’s Jestin Canterbury, but Canterbury will be poised to nab a qualifying spot should anyone falter…No expected 285s for West Nassau, Fernandina Beach or Bishop Snyder.