Welcome to another edition of The Scouting Reports. Here, we take a spin through what the entire state of Florida has coming back. More information for you, the readers, is what we’re all about at Matmen.
I’ve heard about a few transfers locally (on the Northeast side) that supposedly have already taken place, and another one or two that I’ve heard about that may be in process. What I hear about, and what I can report, are two very different things, however. And there are probably others that I haven’t even heard about yet. So if the information here is not 100% correct because of a transfer, it’s because it hasn’t been confirmed to me. Upon confirmation from a coach or from the kid transferring, I would be happy to correct the record — one of the pleasant upsides of doing these over the Internet as opposed to a newspaper-based format.
Pro Tip: This would be a good time to tell me you’re officially transferring. You’ve got some time — either a few hours or a few days, as these will all be done before the end of the month — to let me know via DM in Twitter or Facebook instant message or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2015-16 team finish: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. Bartram Trail. 4. Nease. 5. Ponte Vedra. 6. St. Augustine. 7. Paxon.
2014-15 team finish: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. Bartram Trail. 4. St. Augustine. 5. Nease. 6. Ponte Vedra.
2013-14 team finish: 1. (tie) Creekside & Matanzas. 3. St. Augustine. 4. Bartram Trail. 5. Nease. 6. Ponte Vedra.
(All individual records are Matmen-generated except for Paxon)
Bartram Trail (St Johns)
Other post-season stats: 2016 — 10th at region, T-57th at states. 2015 — 14th at region, 46th at states. 2014 — 19th at region.
Individual returners: Nicholas Vugman (sophomore, 30-14 at 106, district runnerup, region 4th); Blake Swor (junior, 9-15 at 113, district 4th); Sean McDonald (sophomore, 14-26 at 120, district 4th); James Mueller (junior, 12-19 at 126, district 4th); Matthew Pickett (senior, 23-16 at 132, district champ, region 4th); Tristan McElhinney (sophomore, 2-6 at 138, 1 match from regions); Kevin Williams (senior, 26-13 at 145, district 3rd); Caleb Sutherland (junior, 3-6 at 152, 1 match from regions); Jacob Bennett (junior, 18-21 at 160, district runnerup); Brooks Harp (junior, 23-14 at 170, district champ); Kolton McDaniel (junior, 28-13 at 220, district runnerup); Christopher Anderson (senior, 10-16 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Key losses: Anthony Stith (24-11 at 182, district 3rd, region 3rd); John Wilson (33-15 at 195, district 3rd).
Program strengths: Year 3 with a solid coaching staff at the helm, and it’s paying off in lots of returning starters, a few of whom did some solid work this off-season. Schedule is pretty solid.
Program needs: Like many of the St Johns teams, Bartram could have done a bit better in terms of off-season work. I know Coach Parker will want to see the IBT finishes match up a bit more with the dual-meet results.
Why Florida should know about the Bears: Bartram Trail had three state qualifiers just two years after one wrestling writer tabbed the program as one of the sleeping giants in Northeast Florida. Vugman was 0-2 at Kissimmee, losing by fall to eventual finalist Ryan Rubenacker of Charlotte in the second period, and then taking a second loss by fall late in the match in consi round 1 against Jensen Beach’s Wyatt Kirkham. Pickett also went 0-2, with a loss by first-period fall in the first round to Lake Gibson’s Clayton Leach, and then fell in consi round 1 to Olympic Heights’ Nick Peglow, 11-3. Stith picked up the Bears’ points at 182, after losing by fall in the first round to eventual placer Jacob Figur of Sebring. He pinned Olympic Heights’ Troy Jaffy in consi round 1, and then lost by fall in consi round 2 to the state’s #2 ranked 182, Hillsborough’s Connor Knauer, in the second period.
Creekside (St Johns)
Other post-season stats: 2016 — 5th at region, 20th at states. 2015 — 4th at region, T-47th at states. 2014 — 5th at region, T-51st at states.
Individual returners: Colin Brown (sophomore, 16-25 at 106, 1 match from regions); Jake Summers (sophomore, 21-14 at 113, district runnerup); Michael Eckman (senior, 0-7 at 120, 1 match from regions); Thomas Taylor (sophomore, 3-9 at 126, 1 match from regions); Brandon Dickman (junior, 48-9 at 152, district champ, region runnerup, state 5th); Trey Chesser (sophomore, 13-17 at 160, district 4th); Cory Grower (senior, 26-14 at 220, district champ, 1 match from states); Saul Storey (sophomore, 5-7 at 285, district runnerup).
Key losses: David Tyer (29-14 at 138, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Steven Stanton (31-13 at 145, district champ, 1 match from states); Jake Lockwood (15-18 at 170, district runnerup); Willy Lulias (33-14 at 182, district runnerup, region runnerup); Gus Fischer (49-6 at 195, district champ, region champ, state 5th).
Program strengths: Three straight top-five finishes at regions, and best showing at states since at least 2012, is proof enough that the program is firmly in place. Knights have been able to overcome sizable graduation losses each year and still succeed. Coaching staff puts together a solid schedule that pushes when needed and backs off when needed.
Program needs: I do wonder what greater off-season presence would do for the Knights in-season. Dickman has been working the circuit for two summers, was joined by Grower this off-season, but the rest of the returners — both post- and regular-season starters — needed the additional work as much, if not more.
Why Florida should know about the Knights: Creekside had three qualifiers at states and three others who were right on the doorstep. Dickman was 4-2 at states, both losses to placers, falling 9-5 in the first round to eventual finalist Christian Febus of Lake Gibson. From there, he secured his podium spot with wins over West Boca Raton’s Dimitri Naimi (8-5), Golden Gate’s Devin Price (14-6) and Palm Bay’s Dylan Perrow (5-4) before losing by fall in the consi semis to Olympic Heights’ Dan Georges. Dickman then took down Robinson’s Chad Heidt, 6-4, for fifth. Meanwhile, Lulias was 1-2 at Kissimmee, with both losses coming to placers — Gage Schield of Riverdale (3rd) by fall in the first round and to Matanzas’ Maverick Dennis (6th, more in a moment on him) 9-2 in consi round 2. Lulias won by injury default over Jensen Beach’s Cole Podaras in consi round 1. Finally, Fischer matched Dickman’s 4-2 record at 195, with both losses to placers. Fischer pinned Dillard’s Frederick Dixson in the first round, but then fell 8-4 to Fort Myers’ Najee Jacob in the quarters. Fischer then won twice on the back side to make podoum, downing Merritt Island’s Caden Norris, 8-6, in consi round 2 and then pinned Goleman’s Ivan Martinez. In the semis, Dixie Hollins’ Clifton Thomas edged Fischer, 7-6, but he rallied to decision Matanzas’ Jordin Castanheira (more on him in a moment), 3-1, for fifth.
Matanzas (Palm Coast)
Other post-season stats: 2016 — 3rd at region, 26th at states. 2015 — 5th at region, T-30th at states. 2014 — 12th at region, T-39th at states.
Individual returners: Josh Bower (sophomore, 17-28 at 106, district 4th); Stone White (junior, 16-23 at 120, district 3rd); Lawrence Russo (sophomore, 23-21 at 132, district runnerup); Ian Eckert (sophomore, 3-7 at 145, 1 match from regions); Christopher Mixan (senior, 21-13 at 160, district champ); Paul Berent (sophomore, 6-9 at 220, district 3rd); Daniel Leonard (junior, 31-13 at 285, district 3rd).
Key losses: Rocky Samples (47-11 at 113, district champ, region runnerup); Carter Goodman (30-9 at 126, district champ); Tristan Kraus (53-11 at 138, district champ, region 3rd); Eddy Leon de la Cruz (42-14 at 152, district runnerup, region 4th); Maverick Dennis (52-9 at 182, district champ, region champ, state 6th); Jordin Castanheira (50-13 at 195, district runnerup, region 3rd, state 6th).
Program strengths: Progression up the region standings each of the past two or three seasons, were just a couple of extra wins away from a region title in 2016. Coaching consistency has been a strength for the Pirates. Some good numbers returning, most of whom will be around for at least two seasons.
Program needs: Sizable senior class departs, taking a lot of wins and post-season success along with it. Younger kids need to get on that level for Matanzas to stay on top of the district. Off-season work was a bit sparse at least on the tournament scene, but Pirate wrestlers are competing in the Mutiny Wrestling Club since April, which is an important improvement.
Why Florida should know about the Pirates: Mixan was Matanzas’ only returning wrestler to get to Day 2 at Chiles, falling 7-6 to eventual state qualifier Sergio Jordan of Ed White in the consi quarters. As for the 2016 kids who qualified, Samples was 1-2 at states, with both losses against eventual placers. He decisioned Jensen Beach’s Joey Tufo, 7-3, in the first round, and then lost in the quarters to eventual finalist Diamonte Perry of Lake Gibson, 12-3. In consi round 2, Tate’s Alex Porter (more on him a few days down the road) also won with a major, 14-6. Kraus also was 1-2 at 138, losing in the first round by fall to Dixie Hollins’ Coleman Bryant. Kraus rallied for an 8-3 win over Jensen Beach’s Devon McKinley, but then was eliminated in consi round 2 by fall to Belleview’s Jessen Hendrix. Leon de la Cruz was 0-2 at 152, with a first-round loss by fall to multiple-time state champion Julian Ramirez of Tampa Jesuit, and then fell in consi round 1 by fall to Jensen Beach’s Liam Martin. Dennis went 3-3 in finishing sixth, all losses to eventual placers, opening with a fall over Ida Baker’s Nick Richards in the first round, but then fell in the quarters, 5-4, against Belleview’s Malachi Ortiz. He then eliminated Creekside’s Lulias in consi round 2 and cemented his podium spot with a 9-5 decision over state #2 Connor Knauer of Hillsborough in the “blood round.” Riverdale’s Gage Schield decisioned Dennis, 9-7, in the consi semis and Sebring’s Jacob Figur took fifth with a 7-3 win. Finally, Castanheira also was 3-3 with all losses to placers at 195. He downed Merritt Island’s Norris, 2-1, in the first round, but then fell to Dixie Heights’ Thomas, 5-1, in the quarterfinals. He clinched his medal with a consi round 2 fall over Auburndale’s Cody Bush and 4-3 win in the blood round over Ed White’s Atyrus McDonald (more on him a bit later on), losing by fall in the consi semis to Fort Myers’ Jacob and then to Creekside’s Fischer in the fifth-place match.
Nease (Ponte Vedra Beach)
Other post-season stats: 2016 — 11th at region, T-44th at states. 2015 — 23rd at region, T-67th at states. 2014 — 18th at region, T-59th at states.
Individual returners: Sean Arnold (sophomore, 32-11 at 106, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Brenden Teaman (senior, 21-18 at 113, district 3rd); Dylan Martinson (senior, 37-14 at 120, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state podium); Jacob Sorgen (junior, 11-8 at 132, 1 match from regions); Paxton Threatt (junior, 2-13 at 138, 1 match from regions); Dalton Koike (senior, 37-9 at 145, district runnerup); Jarrod Case (junior, 14-14 at 160, district 3rd); Grayson Suggs (junior, 15-26 at 170, district 3rd); Jonathan Walter (senior, 11-26 at 285, district 4th).
Key losses: Tristen Lucessi (34-7 at 126, district runnerup, region runnerup).
Program strengths: Team loses almost no seniors and I think is keeping its coach for a third season, which from a continuity standpoint is always key. This program is one that is coming around to the upside of wrestling in the off-season. Has had a massive roster.
Program needs: Having such a large roster has downsides, because Nease often platoons in the regular season, costing some post-season starters some mat time.
Why Florida should know about the Panthers: Nease had two state qualifiers, a third (Arnold) fall just one match short and two more (Koike & Case) make it to Day 2 of regions. Martinson led the charge with a 2-2 effort at states, after losing in the first round by a 10-2 major to Lake Gibson’s Austin Hosegood. Two wins on the consi side got Martinson to Saturday, with a fall in consi round 1 over West Boca Raton’s Kevin Estevez and an injury-default win over Heritage’s Seth Adeclat. On Saturday, state-ranked #1 Kyle Irwin of Belleview edged Martinson, 6-5, in the blood round. Lucessi was 1-2 at 126 in Kissimmee, winning in double OT in the first round over Viera’s Darius Darr but then losing by fall to multiple-time state champion Kyle Norstrem of Brandon in the quarters. Lucessi then lost in consi round 2 to Middleburg’s Dylan Rossetti (more on him a little later on), 4-2.
Other post-season stats: 2016 — T-26th at region. 2015 — 9th at 1A-District 3, 29th at 1A-Region 1. 2014 — 9th at 1A-District 3, 29th at 1A-Region 1.
Individual returners: Jack Donghit (sophomore, 126, 1 match from regions); Jamaari Mitchell (senior, 182, 1 match from regions).
Key losses: Aldwin Pontejos (132, district 4th); Garen Mauney (152, district 3rd); Pavan Guduri (170, district 4th); Pete Russell (195, 1 match from regions); Zachary Owens (285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Wrestlers have a school environment that enriches them every day — smart wrestlers can learn more, faster. Paxon had solid turnout at regular-season IBTs.
Program needs: Numbers might be a significant problem for Paxon in 2016-17, even more so than they were this year. Nailing down who will coach the team — whether returning or new staff — earlier is a must, so that kids know what to expect early. Team does need to expand its schedule and get its kids more matches.
Why Florida should know about the Golden Eagles: Unfortunately, Paxon had no representation in the second day at Chiles. Mauney had the Eagles’ only victory at regions, with a major decision in consi round 1.
Other post-season stats: 2016 — 25th at region. 2015 — T-25th at region. 2014 — T-25th at region.
Individual returners: Preston Turner (sophomore, 5-15 at 106, 1 match from regions); Bryan Reed (sophomore, 4-18 at 113, 1 match from regions); Jack Fox (senior, 13-13 at 126, district 3rd); James Stanton (senior, 21-14 at 132, district 3rd); Harrison Crowley (senior, 13-16 at 138, district 4th); Marshall Frye (senior, 3-8 at 145, district 4th); Troy Maritato (sophomore, 6-20 at 152, 1 match from regions); Taylor Montroy (senior, 20-11 at 285, district champ).
Key losses: Tony Giordano (25-10 at 120, district runnerup); Ricky Davis (12-12 at 170, 1 match from regions); Zach Gregory (13-15 at 182, district 4th); Cole Scott (4-16 at 220, district 4th).
Program strengths: Senior group has many years of starting experience. Coaching consistency across the board, combined with newer blood coming in at the assistant level. New batch of sophomores have provided the most new blood to the program since this year’s seniors were freshmen.
Program needs: This is the year for Ponte Vedra to make a move if it’s going to make a move, with five key returners in their final season. Schedule could stand some more matches, and some more tough ones.
Why Florida should know about the Sharks: Ponte Vedra had just one day-2 competitor at regions, and that was 2016 graduate Giordano, who went 2-2 at Chiles.
Other post-season stats: 2016 — T-21st at region, T-76th at states. 2015 — 21st at region, T-67th at states. 2014 — 15th at region, T-51st at states.
Individual returners: Nick Thomson (senior, 26-17 at 138, district 3rd); Marcus Petersen (junior, 4-12 at 145, 1 match from regions); Tracey Beshara (junior, 28-17 at 152, district 4th); Jacob Linden (senior, 11-12 at 160, 1 match from regions); Gabe Wentworth (junior, 11-27 at 170, 1 match from regions); Robert Zuzu (sophomore, 18-25 at 195, district 4th); Michael Bragalone (junior, 0-3 at 220, 1 match from regions).
Key losses: Kristopher Smith (45-8 at 106, district champ, region champ).
Program strengths: Yellow Jackets have had at least four consecutive years with at least some presence at states. Just one post-season starter is leaving, and there’s a solid number of regular-season starters also able to come back this fall, many of them with multiple years as starters. I like the young coaching staff at SAHS — it’s young, but aggressive and also nurturing of its kids.
Program needs: We have not seen as much off-season work from the St. Augustine kids as we would want, but that seems to be slowly changing. We saw the Yellow Jackets win a roundrobin meet in February; now, we need them to be entered in tougher invites.
Why Florida should know about the Yellow Jackets: Of St. Augustine’s returners, none of them were able to get to Day 2 at regions, but the Jackets did have one key team member win not only at districts, but at the region level as well in 2016 graduate Smith. States did not go so well, with two losses by decision — first to Christopher DePaola of Cape Coral in round 1 (8-2) and then to Liberty’s Anthony Lopez in consi round 1 (5-4), but Smith paved a path for what would be possible for this year’s wrestlers — and future ones — to achieve.