TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 2

Team synopsis: This might be the year for change in the district. For the past few seasons, Wakulla has been able to hold off the Florida High charge for the top of the table in 1A-2.

I think this is the year the Seminoles have enough firepower and balance to win the day — if they can stay healthy in the face of what will be a very ambitious, even monstrous, schedule in 2016-17. If they do, Florida High is the pick to click. I would say that the Seminoles are also the pick to click for the runnerup spot in Region 1 as a whole, moving past the War Eagles and Arnold, and could well contend for top-five state honors. It’s almost too bad that state duals aren’t this year — Florida High would stack up well in a dual format — but they’ll have a lot back in 2017-18 as well.

Wakulla still has a lot to say, both within the district and the region as a whole, however, with some exceptionally strong returners and a pretty solid amount of depth. Top-five in the region is a very doable goal for the War Eagles, but there is some upper-weight depth needed in order to make that goal a reality again this year.

For the fourth in as many years, a different coach is heading up the Suwannee program, as former Bulldog standout Logan Register takes over to start the year. No matter who runs the program, seems like, the Bulldogs just keep producing in the post-season, with top-five Region 1 finishes in each of the past three years. There’s enough returners to make it four.

Godby is positioned firmly enough by sufficient numbers to be looking to hold down fourth place in 1A-2. North Florida Christian was fourth a year ago, but unless the Eagles put together sufficient numbers, it will be hard to hold on to that spot. That’s the case for Rickards as well, which was down to just one wrestler by the post-season — but that one almost got to states.

Projected finish: 1. Florida High. 2. Wakulla. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby. 5. North Florida Christian. 6. Rickards.

Florida High (Tallahassee)
Coach: Clay Allen, 7th year.
2015-16: 8-1 in duals. 11th at Border Wars, 5th at Capital City Classic, 1st at Billy Saylor Invitational, 5th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 1st at 5 Star Invitational, 9th at Clay Rotary, 3rd at Tri-County.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, 7th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, T-59th at states. 2014 — 3rd at district, 9th at region, T-59th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Mike Cerio (senior, 14-24 at 113, district 3rd); Max Metcalf (sophomore, 34-14 at 120, district runnerup, region 4th); Bryan Metcalf (junior, 41-9 at 126, district champ, region 4th, state 5th); Harrisen Lacayo (junior, 1-17 at 132, district 3rd); Nic Timmons (sophomore, 8-15 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Duncan Weaver (senior, 16-6 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Max Harris (senior, 42-13 at 138, district champ, region 3rd, state 6th); Jake Richardson (junior, 40-14 at 145, district champ, region 4th); Marcus Haigler (freshman, 0-6 at 152, district 4th); Will Haigler (junior, 44-9 at 170, district champ, region champ, state 5th); DeJay Robinson (junior, 24-20 at 182, district 3rd); Cam Brown (senior, 44-6 at 195, district champ, region runnerup, state 4th); Brendunn Mills (junior, 6-23 at 220, district 4th); Christian Patterson (senior, 2-5 at 285, district 3rd).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Ikeon Myles (sophomore, 23-19 at 106, district runnerup, 1 match from states; transferred to Lincoln); Drew Hostetter (29-11 at 160, district 4th, region runnerup; graduation).
Program strengths: Tons of returners off a team posting its second top-four showing at regions and a top-seven at states, plus a lot of depth in kids that saw a lot of regular-season mat time but didn’t compete in postseason tournament series. Young, aggressive coaching staff. Strong local competition helps, as does a strong overall schedule, both in- and off-season.
Program needs: A couple of middleweight kids to grow into Hostetter’s weight class, because they had a lot of depth around the 138-145 area in 2015-16, and Harris & Richardson had those weights locked up.
Matmen’s take: With the Seminoles standing to lose just four seniors that started a year ago, they’re going to be good for a long time, potentially.

Godby (Tallahassee)
Coach: Richard Burkette, 3rd year.
2015-16: Unknown dual record. T-16th at Capital City Classic, 10th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 8th at Gator Brawl, 11th at Trojan Invitational, 7th at Tri-County. Unknown finish in Cougar Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 5th at district, T-14th at region, T-60th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 14th at region, 36th at states. 2014 — 4th at district, 13th at region, T-20th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Braxten Marshall (senior, 126, district 3rd); Zach Godwin (junior, 145, district 4th); Andrew Thaxton (senior, 152, district runnerup); James Williams (senior, 220, 1 match from regions); Devaughn Stephens (senior, 285, district 4th, region 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Dalton Harrison (113, did not compete in post-season); Marcus Lloyd (120, district 4th); Cornelius Brown (160, district champ, region 4th).
Program strengths: Team could perform well in IBTs (see their region performance, same as Yulee, a Northeast-area top-10 team threat all season). Upper weights always seem to come through in the clutch, some solid middleweight performance as well.
Program needs: Numbers are an issue in order for Godby to compete against its fellow city teams. Schedule does need some diversity — some good events in town, yes, but Cougars should get more duals in and get out of the city a bit more. Team needed more off-season presence.
Matmen’s take: Cougars have a solid returning group to attract more numbers, but breaking into the top half of the district is a tall order.

North Florida Christian (Tallahassee)
Coach: John Wainwright, 3rd year.
2015-16: Unknown dual record. 27th at Capital City Classic, 10th at Billy Saylor Invitational, 11th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 9th at Gator Brawl. Unknown finish in Cougar Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 4th at district, 21st at region. 2015 — 25th at region. First-year program in 2014-15.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Landon Kelly (sophomore, 7-28 at 106, district 3rd); David Lunn (senior, 27-18 at 182, district runnerup); Nolan Kelly (senior, 14-23 at 195, district 3rd); Jonathan Wainwright (senior, 24-21 at 220, district 3rd).
Key losses (to graduation): Jack Marsh (10-15 at 160, district 3rd); Phil Gardner (11-15 at 170, district 3rd).
Program strengths: One thing’s for sure — this group had a pretty strong schedule in front of it last year. A lot of teams with more-established traditions and more kids don’t wrestle the Eagles’ schedule, and they should. Good nucleus of upperweight kids that have grown together in the room.
Program needs: Numbers. After this upcoming season, only one post-season starter from the 2015-16 lineup is eligible to return. More lower-weight kids, as Landon Kelly is the only returner below 182 in the lineup.
Matmen’s take: Building a future beyond this season should be biggest goal for Eagle program, with just one 2015-16 starter in play for 2017-18.

Rickards (Tallahassee)
Coach: Shane Carpenter, 4th year.
2015-16: 0-1 in duals. 13th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 13th at Wakulla Challenge. Unknown finish in Cougar Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 6th at district, 27th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, T-32nd at region. 2014 — 5th at district, 31st at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jaden Merritt (senior, 182, district 4th, 1 match from states).
Key losses: None.
Program strengths: Head coach has recent winning experience and a Matmen-area connection, having won a state title for Creekside.
Program needs: Numbers, as Merritt was the only post-season starter and I had regular-season records on just four kids in the regular season. Schedule needs to start in December; losing an entire month might have cost Merritt a trip to Kissimmee.
Matmen’s take: Hoping that Raiders can achieve more numbers this year in order to keep program afloat.

Suwannee (Live Oak)
Coach: Logan Register, 1st year.
2015-16: 4-3 in duals. 15th at Border Wars, 12th at Capital City Classic, 2nd at Billy Saylor Invitational, 4th at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 2nd at 5 Star Invitational, 8th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 3rd at district, 5th at region, T-30th at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 3rd at region, T-15th at states. 2014 — 2nd at district, 2nd at region, 13th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Brandon Trask (senior, 42-11 at 106, district champ, region 3rd, state 6th); Chase Clark (junior, 27-15 at 113, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Tyler Ogles (sophomore, 12-23 at 126, district 4th); Julian Borrell (sophomore, 21-13 at 132, district runnerup, region 4th); Kenneth Foster (senior, 8-4 at 138, district runnerup); Tanner Clark (senior, 18-12 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Terrell Williams (sophomore, 19-15 at 145, district 3rd); Joey Borrell (senior, 34-12 at 152, district champ, 1 match from states); Billy Jenkins (senior, 33-12 at 160, district runnerup, region runnerup, state 6th); Logan Montemurro (junior, 9-20 at 170, district 4th); Charles Votava (senior, 7-23 at 182, 1 match from regions); .
Key losses (to graduation): Michael Santangelo (13-15 at 120, district 3rd); Marcus Mapp (16-17 at 220, district runnerup); Rossie Williams (24-12 at 285, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Program keeps on truckin’ on, particularly when it gets to winning time in February, with a string of top-five region finishes. Lots of returners coming back that wrestled in post-season as well as kids who competed in regular season. Tradition continues to truly matter in Live Oak and the surrounding community.
Program needs: Fourth head coach in as many seasons will be in place for 2016-17. Program could use a couple more duals during the course of the year, but travel time is an issue on that front. Will need some upper-weight presence in 2016-17, due to graduation losses and some holes from a year ago.
Matmen’s take: Bulldogs might challenge Wakulla for second in district, but either way should still be a strong region player once again.

Wakulla (Crawfordville)
Coach: William Pafford, 6th year.
2015-16: 7-2 in duals. 9th at Border Wars, 3rd at Capital City Classic, 2nd at Timberwolf Challenge, 3rd at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 3rd at Wakulla Challenge, 1st at Trojan Invitational, 2nd at Tri-County.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district, 3rd at region, 13th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 12th at states. 2014 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 9th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Brandon Hunter (sophomore, 7-18 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Ashlee Dalton (junior, 15-9 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Larry Smith (senior, 36-5 at 113, district champ, region runnerup); Rolin Malik (junior, 33-13 at 120, district champ, 1 match from states); Jonathan Hunter (senior, 30-18 at 126, district runnerup); Max Owen (senior, 14-8 at 132, district champ, region 3rd); Micah Lanier (junior, 15-14 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Cordle (junior, 6-15 at 160, 1 match from regions); Andrew Annand (sophomore, 24-22 at 195, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Jacob Marin (junior, 20-8 at 285, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state podium); Darius Wilkins (sophomore, 20-12 at 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (to graduation): Ryan Houstan (27-14 at 138, district 3rd); Hunter Royce (35-10 at 145, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Colton McCulley (5-9 at 152, district 3rd); Chris Surace (39-13 at 170, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1 match from state podium); Josh Strickland (42-13 at 182, district champ, region 4th, 1 match from state podium); Austin Beaulieu (25-22 at 220, district champ, region 4th).
Program strengths: Lots of talent returning and Wakulla is another program that reloads rather than rebuilds. There is some returning experience that did not compete in post-season last year that saw success during the regular season. Strong coaching staff that builds a solid schedule without requiring too much travel.
Program needs: The 2016 graduation class does take a lot of wins along with it; next year’s new faces are going to have to step up fast in order for War Eagles to hold off Florida High and keep their district title.
Matmen’s take: The War Eagles have extensive experience with winning, and will win a lot again this year; pre-season performance suggests they’re not going anywhere.

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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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