Matmen Opinion Piece — A “True” 4th?

Quick question: What do Robert Sheridan, Justin Trinh, Daniel Pigg, Steven Stanton, Logan Womack, Jason Griffis, Gray Creed, Caleb Steinmetz, Corey Paine, Blake Delapaz and Chris Shauman have in common?

I’ll wait… (hums Jeopardy theme)

They’re all wrestlers? Check. That’s the easy part.

All 11 graduated from their respective schools this past May (or perhaps June depending on when the date actually was). All 11 were one match away from the state tournament in February.

And, if “The Matman” had unlimited power, all 11 — along with 24 other local wrestlers that have another shot in future seasons — would have had one more match to try to get to Kissimmee.

These wrestlers all lost in the consolation semis, or “blood round” if you will, to the eventual third-place finisher in their weight classes at their respective region tournaments.

I know I’m always on here talking about Iowa and how Iowa does things, but one thing that I truly do like is Iowa’s wrestleback concept. At both the district and region levels of individual state series competition in that state, where only two wrestlers advance onward, brackets do get wrestled out to third place. If the third-place competitor did not wrestle the runner-up at any time in the tournament, there is a wrestleback to determine a “true” second. It is a very competitive round and does count toward the team score, which is a big deal for team dual bracketing.

I’d like to see that concept applied at least at the region level (unless districts were calibrated in such a way that there was a more-or-less even number of teams in each district, I don’t think it could or even should be done at the district level) here in Florida. Instead of a true second as in Iowa, there would be the opportunity to wrestle back for a “true” fourth place. It would be contested after the finals and third-place matches were complete, with rest time allowed.

Here’s the only downside I can see. In Iowa, not every weight class sees a wrestleback. In other words, the runnerup and the third-place competitor — particularly at the district level — would have faced off during the tournament (usually the semis), and then the runnerup is walked over into true second. If the tournament is seeded perfectly, and wrestled according to seed (does that ever happen?), there would be no wrestlebacks. At the individual region level in Iowa, where there are only four competitors per class, wrestlebacks happen a lot more often.

In Florida’s region tournament, with up to 16 kids in a bracket, it’s going to be pretty rare (if not impossible) that the fourth-place finisher and the kid who lost in the blood round to the eventual third would have seen each other in the tournament, so there would be 14 wrestlebacks, which admittedly is time-consuming on what already is a long day. The schedule for regions on Saturday would need adjusting. I think there’s some room for that to happen, but it would be an adjustment for everyone.

But consider this. Look at our list at the top there. Of those 11 kids, only one — Griffis — ever got to Kissimmee, as competitors, in their careers.

These were the 35 wrestlers who were one match short of state after losing to the eventual third-place finisher at regions:

1A: Griffis, Creed, Steinmetz, Paine, Ikeon Myles, Chase Clark, Delton Griffin, KJ Fagan, Max Martinez, Joey Borrell, Jarkeis Bass, Caleb Calhoun, Andrew Annand, Josiah McCallum.

2A: Sheridan, Trinh, Pigg, Stanton, Womack (although he may have been hurt and couldn’t actually have wrestled back), Frank Sawyer, Nate Golmon, Logan Mellor, Landon Dains, Michel Augustin, Bryan Heflin, Henry Segura, Cory Grower, Hunter Hall.

3A (District 1 kids affected only): Delapaz, Shauman, Andrique Broughton, Trace Insalaco, Khauriee Sullivan, Owen Beining, Steve Canidate.

Every kid that finished fourth at regions deserved to go to state. That isn’t the argument being made here. Nor is the argument being made to send more kids from each region. Four’s a good number.

The argument is simply that, just maybe, some of these kids might have had region tournaments or a body of work that were just as deserving as those fourth-place finishers, but because of region bracketing (in a format where seeding isn’t taken into account and brackets are pre-determined by formula), they were watching states instead of competing in them.


I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in 2011. But as I thought I had in 1992, I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. New initiative this year is to create a space on my sites where ALL Florida results can be stored, searched, reviewed and used by my readers, with NO COST TO THEM.

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