By SHANNON HEATON
Northeast Florida Matmen
Both Fleming Island and Flagler Palm Coast know points were left on the table at the conclusion of the 3A state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
Unlike their 2A & 1A brethren, there were no wrestlers — favored or otherwise — that were able to put together a state championship effort, though in one case there was absolutely maximum effort given toward that goal, and in the other, a freak injury cut short the final.
When the smoke cleared, the margin between Fleming and Flagler was close — as it usually had been throughout the year — but where the Golden Eagles and Bulldogs wound up finishing was unexpected lower than either side had wanted. Fleming was sixth, with 72 points, while FPC was eighth at 66.
“We know to expect the unexpected, that whatever can go wrong will go wrong,” Fleming senior Xaiver Sampsel, one of three 3rd-place finishers for the Golden Eagles, said. “It will happen a lot. You have to rise above or find new ways to do things.”
Sampsel (132), Ryan Smenda (182) and Jason Davis (195) all finished third in their respective weight classes, while John Martorano (170) added a fifth at his weight class.
“We had a lot of young wrestlers, their first time at the big show,” Sampsel said. “I know John and I, our first time down here, we made some little mistakes down here. A lot of these younger guys made mistakes where only experienced wrestlers would know the difference.
“I’m sad that this is my last year with these teams and these coaches. I will miss it all, but I’m happy that I placed higher than last year.”
FPC saw Kaz Maia (152) reach the final for a second time, but he sustained a left dislocated elbow in the title match with Winter Springs’ James Nereim. At 120, Michael DeAugustino also reached the finals, but a late takedown went the other way against top-ranked Randy McCray of Southridge.
The Bulldogs also got a fifth from Avery Holder (113). Atlantic Coast finished 25th on a third-place finish at 285 from DeAngeles Harris, while Sandalwood was tied at 45th with four points and Oakleaf tied at 54th with two. Buchholz was tied for 61st with one point.
Below follows a quick(ish) look at the 14 weight classes:
Top six: 1. Elijah Varona, jr., South Dade; 2. Chris Fragale, Palm Harbor; 3. Malyke Hines, fr., Osceola; 4. Ryan Boncamper, jr., Killian; 5. Michael Bush, soph., Sarasota; 6. Dennis McNeal, fr., Treasure Coast.
Snapshot: Varona (2nd) pinned his way into the semis, and then took down #1 Hines, 6-2, early Saturday morning. The top half of the bracket had a bit more air in it, allowing an unranked competitor to show his quality, and Fragale was able to take best advantage of that air.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): Fragale wasn’t the only unranked wrestler in the top half of the bracket to wind up on the podium. Fragale met Boncamper in the first round of the tournament, and later decisioned McNeal — who’d edged two ranked wrestlers by two points — in the semi.
Local outlook: Two Matmen-area competitors were in the bracket, with one getting to Saturday.
Albie Snedaker, Fleming Island: After finishing fourth at Region 1, Snedaker (8th) was the only Matmen competitor to get to Saturday. Snedaker dropped a wild first-rounder to McNeal, 11-10, to fall into the consi rounds. From there, Snedaker falled Everglades’ Charles Pierre Nadhelo in 2:28 in consi rd-1 and then decisioned Boone’s Jayden Bradshaw — in a rematch of the Region 1 third-place match — 6-4. Saturday, though, was the end of the road, as Boncamper won by fall in 2:09.
Ryan Rosano, Oakleaf: Rosano (13th) opened the tournament with a first-round loss by fall in 3:28 against Raiden Johnson (9th) of Coral Springs, but he rallied almost immediately, with an 11-0 major over Steinbrenner’s Anthony Vitale in the consi-rd 1 matchup and then pushed Region 1 champion Marcus Jean Baptiste to the brink before falling, 4-3, in consi rd-2.
Top six: 1. Alex Victor, sr., Braddock; 2. Angel Perez, soph., Southwest Miami; 3. Marshall Craig, jr., Manatee; 4. Jeremiah Costen, sr., Lake Mary; 5. Avery Holder, soph., Flagler Palm Coast; 6. Edward Barrett, sr., Atlantic-Delray Beach.
Snapshot: Nobody really got that close to two-time champion Victor all weekend long, as he had a forfeit win over the #3 in the first round, over #5 in the quarters, #7 in the semi and then took down #2 Perez, 7-1, in the championship match.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): There was really only one “upset” in the first round, and it was the #9 over the #4. However, when it played itself out over the rest of the tournament, the #4 wound up on the podium, and the #9 did not win another match, dropping a pair of decisions.
Local outlook: Three Matmen-area competitors qualified out, but only two competed, as Fleming Island freshman Deandre Demus (#3) sustained injuries extensive enough to keep him out of competition, with the other two getting at least as far as Saturday.
Holder: The Flagler sophomore (4th) did, in fact, drop that first-round match mentioned earlier against Hollywood Hills’ Anthony Silvestre (9th), but then Holder won three in a row to earn his podium spot, including a pair of falls to close out Friday, pinning #12 Gianni Guerriero of St. Thomas in consi rd-1 and then Wellington’s Jared Abramson (#5) in consi rd-2. On Saturday, Holder then had a District 1 & Region 1 rematch with Sandalwood’s Jacques Hale (13th), taking a 9-4 decision over Hale in the blood round. Craig (6th) was too strong in the consi semi, winning that one 6-2, but Holder came back for fifth, with an 8-0 major over Barrett (11th).
Hale: Hale picked an inopportune first-round opponent, drawing Perez, but he acquitted himself well, falling 6-4. Hale then edged unranked Braydon McLellen in consi-rd 1, 4-3, and then pinned #14 Yosbiel Garcia of Sarasota in 2:50 to gte to Saturday and another matchup with Hale.
Top six: 1. Randy McCray, sr., Southridge; 2. Michael DeAugustino, soph., Flagler Palm Coast; 3. Jake Semrad, sr., Lyden; 4. Stephen Moreno, jr., St. Thomas; 5. Francisco Farr, sr., Seminole Ridge; 6. Lucas Rodriguez, jr., Gateway.
Snapshot: McCray steadily worked his way through the bracket, with a first-round fall and then a 16-6 major over #13 Omar Garcia of Deland in the quarters. Saturday was a tougher battle, as McCray turned back #3 Semrad, 8-4, in the semis, and then managed a takedown in the very last moments of the final for the championship in a 5-3 win.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): Semrad won four matches over the course of the tournament by a combined total of six points, with his quarterfinal win over #7 Moreno, consi-semi win over #8 Farr and third-place win over Moreno (double OT in that iteration) all coming by just one point.
Local outlook: Both local competitors were able to pick up wins, with DeAugustino earning his second state medal on Saturday night.
DeAugustino: Started with a forfeit victory over Osceola’s Luis Pena — who did not compete Friday — in the first round, then DeAugustino (4th) did everything possible to keep Farr off the scoreboard in the quarters in a 1-0 decision. We saw a more freewheeling style in his 7-0 whitewashing of Rodriguez in the semi, and, in the final, he battled the defending champion McCray to a standstill for at least 5:40, if not a few seconds longer, but McCray found a way just as time was about to expire, winning 5-3.
Jacob Sandoval, Fleming Island: Ran into a buzzsaw in Rodriguez (5th) in the first round, falling 16-2 and going into the consi rounds. Sandoval did pretty much the same thing in consi rd-1 to Coral Glades’ Nicholas Chitty, but couldn’t match the pace of Moreno in consi rd-2 Friday evening, falling 9-4.
Top six: 1. Jordan Marshall, sr., Southridge; 2. Franco Valdes, jr., Southwest Miami; 3. Cullen Telfer, soph., Strawberry Crest; 4. Pablo Asenjo, jr., Forest Hill; 5. Vinny Sessa, soph., St. Thomas; 6. Anthony Vizcaino, sr., Coral Gables.
Snapshot: #1 Marshall went six minutes in each of the first three rounds, with wins over the #7, #11 and #3 ranked wrestlers to get to the final. There, against #2 Valdes in a rematch of the Region 4 final, Marshall turned the tables agaisnt his region foe, winning by fall in 5:30.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): In this bracket chock-full of talent, the only match won by an unranked wrestler came against another unranked wrestler in consi rd 1, when Palm Beach Gardens’ Anthony Powell shut out Freedom’s Brenden Maharaj, 10-0.
Local outlook: The Matmen-area competitors found themselves shut out on the front side — to be fair, neither was favored — and won just one match apiece on the back side.
Tracy Davis, Fleming Island: Davis (6th) battled to a virtual standstill with #5 Vizcaino, falling 4-3 and going into the consolation round. Davis found easier footing in consi rd-1 against Osceola’s Kristian Perez, winning 9-0, but then couldn’t keep it in consi rd-2 against Sessa (11th), falling by a 3-0 count.
Gant Moore, Buchholz: Moore (7th) was matched with Marshall in the first round, and the defending champ proved himself in a 15-5 major decision. Moore would rally against unranked Melbourne wrestler Gabe Etienne, winning that one 7-2, but then fell 13-5 to Vizcaino in consi rd-2.
Top six: 1. Kizhan Clarke, sr., Riverview; 2. John Locksmith, sr., Osceola; 3. Brevin Balmeceda, fr., South Dade; 4. Xaiver Sampsel, sr., Fleming Island; 5. Alex Urquiza, Southwest Miami, soph.; 6. Cole Mitchell, soph., Winter Springs.
Snapshot: With most eyes on the top half of the bracket and #1 Locksmith and #2 Balmeceda’s likely semifinal matchup, #3 Clarke was able to quietly move through the bottom half, with a first-round fall and then three decisions by a combined total of five points — 3-2 in the quarters over #4 Urquiza, 7-5 in the semis over #6 Sampsel and then 4-2 over #1 Locksmith for the championship.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): With Clarke, Locksmith and Sampsel all moving on after this season, the middle weights should be controlled over the next couple of years by the new order here in Balmeceda, Urquiza and Mitchell, plus St. Thomas’ Grant Aronoff at 138.
Local outlook: Sampsel was the only local wrestler that qualified out.
Sampsel: Opened with a tough first-rounder against Lakewood Ranch’s Dylan Cameron (7th), but was able to put together the only scoring move of the match in taking a 3-1 victory. Sampsel then edged #9 Tyler Difiore of Wellington, 4-2, in the quarters to set up the match with Clarke in the semi. On the consi side, Sampsel needed just 50 seconds to gain vindication for his Region 1 final loss, pinning Mitchell (#5) in the semis, but then couldn’t hold down Balmeceda in the third-place match, who rode out Sampsel and reversed from bottom with another ride-out to take a 2-0 win.
Top six: 1. Grant Aronoff, soph., St. Thomas; 2. Justin Camacho, sr., Gateway; 3. Anthony Kinsey, sr., Southridge; 4. Chris Bentley, jr., Columbus; 5. Kiesean Stephens, sr., Coral Springs; 6. Christian Rivera, sr., Freedom.
Snapshot: Top-ranked Aronoff dominated the bracket, with a pair of first-period pins on Friday and two technical falls on Saturday. While the the other higher-ranked wrestlers fell early or against one another, Aronoff took a fall over the #7, with techs against the 5 and 8 wrestlers on Saturday.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): Of the four first-round winners that went on to fall in the quarters (#13 Gavin Mitchiner of Palm Harbor, unranked Cody Henson of North Port, #11 Ivan Pena of Palm Beach Central & #3 Dimitri Alicea of Winter Springs), none of them won another match in the course of the tournament.
Local outlook: Both Matmen-area locals got to Saturday, both wound up falling in the blood round.
Paul Detwiler, Fleming Island: Detwiler (4th) fell to Pena, 4-3, in the first round, but then had two solid decisions to close out Friday, 11-5 over Western’s Vincent Garcia in consi rd-1 and a 9-0 major over Henson in consi rd-2. However, Stephens just edged Detwiler out in the consi quarter with a 3-2 win.
Tariq Johnson, Flagler Palm Coast: Johnson drew Aronoff in the first round, losing via a quick fall in 52 seconds to drop into the consi rounds, where he rallied into Saturday with a 12-8 consi-rd 1 win over #7 Jesse Acedo of Southwest Miami and a fall in 4:23 over Pena in consi rd-2. On Saturday, Bentley got the best of Johnson in a 9-2 decision.
Top six: 1. Ozzy Lugo, sr., South Dade; 2. Kurtis Aimable, sr., Freedom; 3. Angel Del Cueto, jr., Southwest Miami; 4. Bryce Marcus, jr., St. Thomas; 5. Evyn Insalaco, sr., Flagler Palm Coast; 6. Charles Small, jr., Manatee.
Snapshot: Lugo picked up bonus points in every round of the bracket, with three falls and a 10-2 major in the quarters, taking a fall over #5 Insalaco in the semis in 2:39 and then pinning #2 Aimable in just 69 seconds to win the championship.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): En route to the championship, Lugo took down each of the top 3 Region 1 finishers, first runnerup Xavier Maxwell (#10, in the only six-minute match, a 10-2 major), then the Region 1 third in Insalaco and then Aimable, the champion.
Local outlook: Insalaco was the only Matmen-area competitor in the weight class for 3A.
Insalaco: Finished Friday with a pair of victories over ranked wrestlers, with a pin in the first round (2:14) over Wellington’s Jacob Treanor and then taking a 6-4 win over Small in the quarters to reach Lugo in the semi, where he lost in 2:34. Del Cueto (#4) was just good enough to win a tight matchup, 5-3, in the consi semis, but Insalaco faced a familiar foe in Small for fifth, taking a 9-4 win.
Top six: 1. James Nereim, sr., Winter Springs; 2. Kaz Maia, sr., Flagler Palm Coast; 3. John Cruz, jr., North Port; 4. Miguel Vasquez, sr., Gateway; 5. Jarrod Smiley, sr., Seminole Ridge; 6. Gavin Arnold, sr., Osceola.
Snapshot: All the pieces were put into place for Nereim and Maia to stage another epic final Saturday night at Silver Spurs. Nereim (#2) had a fall (over #8), a major (#10) and a wild 14-12, overtime victory over #3 Cruz in the semis. Maia had three decisions over ranked wrestlers, outlasting the #5, #4 and #12 wrestlers. But then the injury, as Maia dislocated his left elbow late in the first period and could not continue.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): Watch out for South Dade freshman Todd Perry (9th), who got his introduction to 3A state wrestling (he was at Keys Gate, I’m pretty sure, a year ago) with the Group of Death — a well and truly-earned name, as it had Maia, Vasquez and Smiley (three placers) contained therein.
Local outlook: As we’d hoped, Maia got to the final; as none of us hoped, he couldn’t finish the match.
Maia: Opened with a 13-6 win over Vasquez in the first round and then got into Saturday with a 7-2 win over Smiley. On Saturday in the semis, Maia again set the pace against Osceola’s Arnold, winning that one 11-5.
Top six: 1. Giovanny Bonilla, sr., Osceola; 2. Max Wohlabaugh, jr., Winter Springs; 3. Chrstian Bounce, sr., George Jenkins; 4.. Aaron Flores, sr., South Dade; 5. Luis Rios, jr., Southridge; 6. Jonathan Gomez, sr., Boone.
Snapshot: Bonilla nearly achieved maximum points in getting to the finals, with first-period falls over #12 and #11 on Friday and a Saturday third-period tech fall over Gomez in the semi. The final, a battle of west vs. east in Orlando supremacy, went the east’s way for an 8-5 decision favoring Bonilla.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): Have to love the performance put in by Rios, the Southridge junior, who beat three higher-ranked opponents to take fifth, would not have been favored to reach the semis, but got there, and wouldn’t have been favored in the fifth-place match, but took it.
Local outlook: Just one representative from the Matmen area, and it was too short an appearance.
Eric Vigo, Flagler Palm Coast: Vigo (3rd) was the first of Rios’ victims in the tournament, falling 6-3 in the first round, but then also fell to Sikes’ Hamid Salahutdin, 8-2, in consi rd-1.
Top six: 1. Dacoda Flenard, sr., North Port; 2. Jarred Hardinger, sr., Sarasota; 3. Kahtrell Treadwell, sr., Lyman; 4. Deandre Chery, sr., North Miami; 5. John Martorano, sr., Fleming Island; 6. Nathan Ferkovich, jr., Lake Brantley.
Snapshot: The state final was a reprise of the Region 3 final, with Flenard winning by fall in the first rou8nd and then taking decisions over Ferkovich (#8) in the quarters Friday and Martorano (#4) in the semis Saturday, 9-4. Flenard was able to hold off Hardinger for the second time in eight days, winning 3-2.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): After losing 5-3 in the first round to #9 Connor Morang of Manatee, Chery (#5) was just one takedown away against Treadwell from not losing again in the tournament.
Local outlook: Fleming’s Martorano was the only Matmen-area competitor to make it down in the weight class.
Martorano: Began the tournament with a third-period fall over Coral Springs’ Kaelan Jones in 5:43 in order to get to the quarters, where he decisioned Morang, 10-6, to get a shot at Flenard, only to come up short in a 9-4 semifinal loss. Chery, too, took advantage, with a fall in 2:35 over Martorano in the consi semis, but he rallied to close out his high school career with a win, decisioning Ferkovich 13-9 for fifth.
Top six: 1. Josiah Gittman, jr., St. Thomas; 2. Johnny Raich, sr., Palm Beach Gardens; 3. Ryan Smenda, soph., Fleming Island; 4. Glen Eisman, sr., Cypress Bay; 5. Steven Mercadante, sr., Sarasota; 6. Darrell Wallace, jr., Freedom.
Snapshot: Gittman weathered everyone’s best shot at him, with a first-round win over #6 George Schanck of Ocoee, 11-6, then majored Osceola’s Ethan DeLong 10-0 in the quarters. On Saturday, in the battle of 1 vs. 2, Gittman edged Mercadante, 6-5, and came back to convincingly take the final over #5 Raich, 7-2.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): The two highly-ranked wrestlers in the blood round, #3 Eisman and #4 Wallace, won over unranked competitors DeLong and Anthony Didden of Palm Harbor. Experience in big matches does count in the blood round.
Local outlook: Fleming’s Smenda (#7) was the only local competitor to qualify for state.
Smenda: Smenda had two pins to get to Saturday, with a first-round fall in 1:59 over Seminole Ridge’s Sean Edwards, and then a fall over Didden in 5:49 to win the quarterfinal. Smenda couldn’t unleash the full extent of his leg ride in the semi against Raich, who outlasted him for a 4-3 decision, but then Smenda didn’t lose again, decisioning Wallace in a Region 1 semi rematch, 6-3, and then winning over Eisman, 4-2, for third.
Top six: 1. Chei Hill, jr., South Dade; 2. Adolfo Sotolongo, sr., Southwest Miami; 3. Jason Davis, jr., Fleming Island; 4. Jackson Saffold, jr., Timber Creek; 5. Jozef Macugoski, sr., Cooper City; 6. Isaiah Dawson, sr., Lake Nona.
Snapshot: Hill established himself as this year’s clear king of the class, with pins in the quarters and semis over ranked wrestlers and then a convincing 5-2 decision over #2 Sotolongo to win the championship.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): For an upper-weight class, there’ll be a lot of returners coming back. Half of the field is eligible to return next season, and of that half, six of those wrestlers have been ranked.
Local outlook: Both Davis and Atlantic Coast’s Narek Stepanyan both had Hill in their path during the course of the tournament.
Davis: The Fleming junior (3rd) started with a first-period fall over Macugoski (#6) in the first round and then dominated against North Port’s #5 Devin Gouveia, winning that match 17-4, but Hill took advantage of a mistake and made Davis pay dearly for it, with a fall in 2:26 in the semis. Davis did come back for third, with an OT decision over Macugoski, 3-1, in the consi semis and then a 6-4 win in a rematch of the Region 1 final against Saffold, for third place.
Stepanyan: Started his tournament with Hill, and was able to go six minutes, falling by an 8-5 count and moving into the consis, where he got to the blood round with a 15-4 major over #12 Tyler O’Brien of Newsome in consi rd-1 and another major, 11-1, over #7 Carlos Osterling of Cypress Bay. But Macugoski proved to have just enough for the win, eliminating Stepanyan 3-0 in the consi quarters.
Top six: 1. Dylan Meeks, jr., Dr Phillips; 2. Raimello Jackson, sr., Wekiva; 3. Darius Hamilton, sr., Southridge; 4. Darrius Mosley, sr., George Jenkins; 5. Josh Baker, jr., North Port; 6. Joseph Bolton-Henry, sr., Plantation.
Snapshot: Will anyone beat top-ranked Meeks again in Florida? Will he even be in Kissimmee next state tournament (given that he could be asked to early-enroll for football, as brother Colby was a couple of years back)? If not, what a way to go out, as he pinned his way through the tournament. That way included an 83-second fall in the quarters over #5 Terrill Taylor of Palm Beach Gardens and a third-period fall over #2 Hamilton in the semis. His match in the final was against Region 1 third-placer Raimello Jackson of Wekiva, Meeks’ district rival; the result was a fall in 2:28.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): Hamilton might be the best 3A upper-weight wrestler not to win a title this year, as he dominated all others in his path, except for Meeks.
Local outlook: Fleming Island’s Jose Concepcion (8th) was the only local competitor in the field.
Concepcion: Began solidly, with a 7-2 first-round win over #13 Nick Guzman of Cooper City, and then acquitted himself well in an 8-3 quarterfinal loss to a very solid Mosley (#3). But Baker (11th) found the formula in consi rd-2, taking care of business with a 9-3 victory to end Concepcion’s tournament early Friday evening.
Top six: 1. Kyron Taylor, jr., South Dade; 2. Kyle Mann, sr., Columbus; 3. DeAngeles Harris, sr., Atlantic Coast; 4. Tahj Glemaud, sr., Dr Phillips; 5. Samuel Harrison, sr., George Jenkins; 6. Melchisede Juedy, jr., Southridge.
Snapshot: Taylor bookended falls in the first round and title match with a pair of tough matchups against Region 1 opponents in the middle, edging Glemaud (8th) 1-0 in the quarters and Harris (4th) 7-4 in the semi. In what was ultimately a rematch of the Region 4 final, Taylor came out with a fall in 3:12 for the title.
Interesting factoid (to me at least): There were six overtime matches in the bracket, as it turned out, including identical 2-1, double-overtime victories for third and fifth going to Harris and Harrison, respectively.
Local outlook: Harris was the only local in the state field.
Harris: Came through with flying colors to clinch his state medal on Friday, decisioning #13 Graham Sokolovic of St. Cloud 9-4 in the first round and then taking care of business in the quarter with a 6-4 decision over #6 Will Davis of Fort Pierce Central. Taylor did a solid job of tying up Harris’ hands in the semi and not allowing it to become a contest of power, but Harris came back with a fall in the consi semis, in 1:33: over Juedy, and then he decsiioned Glemaud 2-1 in two overtimes.