Northeast/Northwest Florida Matmen staff report
Third of four in a series. Coming Thursday night (hopefully): 1A-Region 1.
Host: Chiles HS, Tallahassee. Directions from the east or west using I-10: Leave the highway at Exit 203. Merge onto FL-61 North/Thomasville Road, go 5.2 miles, turn left on Timberwolf Crossing, go straight for almost three-quarters of a mile. From the south near the Gulf: Take US-231 North & FL-20 East to FL-12 East in Bristol, and get on I-10 eastbound in Gadsden County, following to exit 203 as otherwise noted.
Time schedule: Wrestling starts at noon on Friday with one continuous session until two championship rounds and two consolation rounds are complete. Saturday wrestling starts at 10 a.m., the finals at 5 p.m. Saturday evening.
Below follows a preview of each of the 14 weight classes. As everyone is local in this preview, I will project the winner, essentially, for every match on the front side of the bracket. Prove me wrong if I under-evaluate you…
Top quarter: Tate sophomore Josh Cochran (12th statewide) over Lincoln freshman Mark Munroe.
Second: St. Augustine senior Kristopher Smith (6th statewide) over Orange Park freshman Dean Ganci.
Third: Nease freshman Sean Arnold (16th statewide) over Gainesville freshman Scotty Tacinelli.
Bottom: Middleburg senior Robert Sheridan over Bartram Trail freshman Nicholas Vugman (15th statewide).
Best first-round match: Vugman v. Niceville junior Dominic Cerillo.
Interesting storyline: The whole Sheridan/Arnold/Vugman triangle needs to sort itself out, as each had gone 1-1 against the other in the regular season; Vugman beat Arnold 9-8 at Matanzas last week, but Arnold wound up with the better draw.
Overall favorite: Smith over Sheridan.
Qualifiers 1-4: Smith; Sheridan; Cochran; Arnold.
Top quarter: Tate junior Alex Porter over Creekside freshman Jake Summers.
Second: Gainesville senior Traevon O’Neal (11th statewide) over Middleburg freshman Briar Jackson (16th statewide).
Third: Lincoln sophomore Michael Crowder (13th statewide) over Orange Park sophomore Frank Sawyer.
Bottom: Matanzas senior Rocky Samples (6th statewide) over Ft Walton Beach senior RJ Leon.
Best first-round match: Sawyer v. Joseph Verda, Pace.
Interesting storyline: Two very interesting quarterfinals in the middle of the bracket, but feeding into opposite halves. O’Neal/Jackson could be one of the better matches of the tournament prior to the final, and Sawyer at times has shown some state-level chops.
Overall favorite: Samples over O’Neal.
Qualifiers 1-4: Samples; O’Neal; Crowder; Leon.
Top quarter: Choctaw senior Nelson Elder (10th statewide) over Ridgeview senior Justin Trinh.
Second: Columbia sophomore Chace Curtis (5th statewide) over Ponte Vedra senior Tony Giordano.
Third: Orange Park junior Marcus Reid (2nd statewide) over Niceville sophomore Zach Hartzog.
Bottom: Nease junior Dylan Martinson (16th statewide) over Tate senior Scott Houston.
Best first-round match: Houston vs. Tyree Young, Lincoln.
Interesting storyline: Can anyone slow down the Reid freight train this weekend? On his game, he’s as good as anyone in Florida in the weight class can be. It will be a good weekend to get some things worked out, as Hartzog, (likely) Martinson and (probably) Curtis should all give good tests.
Overall favorite: Reid over Curtis.
Qualifiers 1-4: Reid; Curtis; Martinson; Elder.
Top quarter: Nease senior Tristen Lucessi (13th statewide) over Tate senior Tanner Wood.
Second: Middleburg senior Dylan Rossetti (16th statewide) over Gainesville senior Tahj Brennen.
Third: Orange Park senior Jeremiah Watson (13th statewide at 132) over Lincoln senior Sean Hendley (14th statewide).
Bottom: Matanzas senior Carter Goodman (12th statewide) over Ridgeview freshman Tanner Belden.
Best first-round match: Belden vs. Nate Golman, Gulf Breeze.
Interesting storyline(s): Two stand out to me. One, several quality kids are not gonna get out, and that’s disheartening to me, but part of the gig. Second, the wisdom is that the Gulf district struggles in this region. None of the District 1 126s were ranked, but would make a real statement if one of them gets out, particularly in this very deep group.
Overall favorite: Goodman over Lucessi.
Qualifiers 1-4: Goodman; Lucessi; Rossetti; Brennen. Too many good kids go home with seasons (careers) ended.
Top quarter: Ridgeview senior Trevor Belden (15th statewide) over Gulf Breeze sophomore Noah Losievsky.
Second: Chiles junior Logan Mellor (16th statewide) over Ed White junior Darrell Lampkin.
Third: Orange Park sophomore Saeid Ejmali (13th statewide at 138) over Crestview senior Michael Cantwell.
Bottom: Bartram Trail junior Matthew Pickett over Leon senior Parker Feddersen.
Best first-round match: Belden vs. James Stanton, Ponte Vedra.
Interesting storyline: Like 126, this weight — while maybe not having quite as much star power and experience — does have around seven kids clustered on a par with one another. I am curious to see who wants to step up and seize this bracket and make it theirs.
Overall favorite: Mellor over Ejmali.
Qualifiers 1-4: Mellor; Ejmali; Belden; Losievsky.
Top quarter: Pace senior Travis Thompson (15th statewide) over Orange Park junior Dashner St. Vilus.
Second: Matanzas senior Tristan Kraus (11th statewide) over Ridgeview senior McKenzie Williams.
Third: Englewood senior Dustin Williams over Crestview sophomore Diego Calonje.
Bottom: Ed White senior Darien Tucker (9th statewide) over Creekside senior David Tyer.
Best first-round match: Tyer vs. Daniel Pigg, Tate.
Interesting storyline: The bottom half of the bracket, in particular, is particularly stocked with solid competitors, and that’s even with Tucker getting a first-round bye. As a junior, Englewood’s Williams got into Saturday — and this year, he was fourth at districts. Going to be an interesting Friday night.
Overall favorite: Tucker over Kraus.
Qualifiers 1-4: Tucker; Kraus; Thompson; M. Williams.
Top quarter: Niceville sophomore Jack Johnson (15th statewide) over Columbia senior Kody Waldron.
Second: Creekside senior Steven Stanton over Stanton sophomore Mitchell Mika.
Third: Pace senior Anthony Krevatas (9th statewide) over Lincoln senior David Jackson (11th statewide).
Bottom: Ed White senior Juwan Lee (13th statewide) over Nease junior Dalton Koike.
Best first-round match: Krevatas vs. Kevin Williams, Bartram Trail.
Interesting storyline: My initial instinct about this bracket is that the “real” championship match might be contested as early as late afternoon on Friday, when Krevatas and Jackson hook up in the quarters, but Krevatas and Johnson had a great match in the district final at Tate.
Overall favorite: Krevatas over Johnson.
Qualifiers 1-4: Krevatas; Johnson; Jackson; Lee.
Top quarter: Paxon senior Garen Mauney over Tate senior Logan Womack.
Second: Leon sophomore Justin Grant (3rd statewide) over Matanzas senior Eddy Leon de la Cruz (16th statewide).
Third: Englewood junior Tavian Whitehead over Ft Walton Beach junior Chase Cleveland.
Bottom: Creekside sophomore Justin Dickman (8th statewide) over Gulf Breeze senior Aaron Mantuano.
Best first-round match: Mauney vs. Cody Eastwood, Middleburg.
Interesting storyline: I think the top two are pretty well set and locked in, barring injury; but there are about nine kids I could theoretically see fighting for two spots in the bracket. It is possible that Leon de la Cruz would have a slight edge, and Womack would perhaps join him if he gets into the semi.
Overall favorite: Grant over Dickman.
Qualifiers 1-4: Grant; Dickman; Leon de la Cruz; Mauney.
Top quarter: Tate sophomore Juan Alvarez over Chiles senior Elijah Toomey.
Second: Orange Park junior Nartorian Lee (10th statewide) over Columbia senior Austin Chapman (10th statewide at 152).
Third: Lincoln senior Jaycie Rudd (2nd statewide) over Ed White senior Sergio Jordan (15th statewide).
Bottom: Matanzas junior Christopher Mixan over Englewood freshman Zykeim Sermons.
Best first-round match: Jordan vs. Brett Latimer (14th statewide), Gulf Breeze.
Interesting storyline: Look closely at the third quarter; I see, one way or the other, two state qualifiers coming out of that group. Also, even with several solid kids here, I don’t see anybody being able to slow down Rudd en route to the region title.
Overall favorite: Rudd over Lee.
Qualifiers 1-4: Rudd; Lee; Jordan; Chapman.
Top quarter: Gulf Breeze sophomore Tannen Slack (16th statewide) over Lincoln junior Justin Lopeman.
Second: Ridgeview senior Daryn Tucker Brown over Bartram Trail sophomore Brooks Harp.
Third: Chiles junior Gavin Hoard (4th statewide) over Tate senior Heath Herndon (15th statewide).
Bottom: Middleburg senior Jonathan Shoen (5th statewide) over Milton junior Seth Martin.
Best first-round match: Martin vs. Jake Lockwood, Creekside.
Interesting storyline: With all apologies to the top half of the group, and nothing is ever truly guaranteed in wrestling, but the overwhelming feeling I have about this bracket is that the Hoard/Shoen semifinal will decide the champion. Hoard has the home-gym edge, Shoen the experience advantage.
Overall favorite: Shoen over Slack.
Qualifiers 1-4: Shoen; Slack; Hoard; Herndon.
Top quarter: Lincoln senior Isaac Gutierrez-Tapia (12th statewide) over Choctaw junior Sam Mason.
Second: Matanzas senior Maverick Dennis (8th statewide) over Middleburg sophomore Bryan Heflin.
Third: Bartram Trail senior Anthony Stith over Leon senior Thirkeal Lightsey.
Bottom: Creekside senior Willy Lulias (13th statewide) over Terry Parker senior Aquana McCalop (15th statewide).
Best first-round match: Stith vs. Bradley Miller, Gulf Breeze.
Interesting storyline: I expect to be proven wrong all over the place in this bracket, as my “bracketology” bracket has all kinds of scribbles and notes and hedges. I wish I’d been at Lincoln Friday night to see the final match, and it will be interesting to see how some of these wrestlers respond to adversity.
Overall favorite: Dennis over Lulias.
Qualifiers 1-4: Dennis; Lulias; Gutierrez-Tapia; Mason.
Top quarter: Matanzas senior Jordin Castanheira (9th statewide) over Ft Walton Beach junior Brian Haynes (16th statewide).
Second: Ed White senior Atyrus McDonald (7th statewide) over Bartram Trail senior John Wilson.
Third: Middleburg sophomore Kurt Jackson over Leon junior Henry Segura.
Bottom: Creekside senior Gus Fischer (4th statewide) over Gulf Breeze senior Pete Staviski.
Best first-round match: Staviski vs. Ben Elliot, Orange Park.
Interesting storyline: This one hits kind of like 126; no matter what rolls out this weekend, there’s going to be some exceptionally good wrestlers that don’t make it out to state. I see eight stronger ones, in particular, that have enough chops to do some damage at state, but four of them will be in street clothes.
Overall favorite: Fischer over McDonald.
Qualifiers 1-4: Fischer; McDonald; Castanheira; Jackson.
Top quarter: Tate senior Gaven McAnally (9th statewide) over Bartram Trail sophomore Kolton McDaniel.
Second: Chiles junior Robert Williams over Middleburg senior Ammon Meeks (16th statewide).
Third: Leon sophomore JT Grant (10th statewide) over Ed White senior Avery Wilds (15th statewide).
Bottom: Niceville junior Seth Witt over Creekside junior Cory Grower.
Best first-round match: Wilds vs. Mycah Sutton, Choctaw.
Interesting storyline: I thought eight state-capable wrestlers was kind of a lot; I count 10 here. This should be one of the most explosive brackets in the tournament. It’s not often that I look at a bracket and think ‘I have no idea what’s going to happen’ but I just about almost think that with this group.
Overall favorite: Grant over McAnally.
Qualifiers 1-4: Grant; McAnally; Wilds; McDaniel.
Top quarter: Ft Walton Beach junior Joseph Pearson (16th statewide) over Matanzas sophomore Daniel Leonard.
Second: Leon senior Gabe Beyer (2nd statewide) over Creekside freshman Saul Storey.
Third: Ed White senior Kelton Johnson (6th statewide) over Milton junior Hunter Hall.
Bottom: Columbia senior Marcus Zeighler (12th statewide) over Ponte Vedra junior Taylor Montroy.
Best first-round match: Zeighler vs. Murphy Bennett, Pace.
Interesting storyline: Beyer has run the northwest Florida side of the state; Johnson has run the northeast Florida side of the state. I hope somebody videos this, so I can watch it. Might be the best final in the tournament.
Overall favorite: Beyer over Johnson.
Qualifiers 1-4: Beyer; Johnson; Pearson; Zeighler.