TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 4

Team synopsis: Motivation is a powerful thing. So, too, is a target.

After winning 1A-District 4 championships in back-to-back-to-back seasons, Bishop Kenny has both the resume and the returners (at least 10 and possibly 12 with post-season experience) in large enough combination that even a woefully near-sighted prognosticator can pick them as the solid favorite to put together a “four-peat” come February.

Bolles and Pedro Menendez will chase the Crusaders hard, though. The Bulldogs have 11 returning starters of their own, but will need to find some leaders to move them. As for the Falcons, they have some graduation losses to overcome and a new coaching regime to lead them, but should be able to contend in many of their competitions.

With a full slate of expected individual returners in hand, I would project Episcopal to lead the rest of the group, though all of the remaining teams in the district have both opportunities for growth — and reasons for concern — in terms of their district chances come February.

Projected finish: 1. Bishop Kenny. 2. Bolles. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Episcopal. 5. University Christian. 6. Wolfson. 7. Bradford. 8. FSDB.

Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville)
Coach: Paul Schloth, 8th year.
2015-16: 16-5 in duals. 18th at Capital City Classic, 1st at Bierbaum Invitational, 1st at Battle of the Border, 22nd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district, 8th at region, T-60th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 6th at region, T-45th at states. 2014 — 1st at district, 8th at region, T-25th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jack Delaney (junior, 32-11 at 106, district champ, region 4th); Reilly Gentges (sophomore, 11-12 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Garrett Tirado (junior, 22-13 at 113, district runnerup); (potentially) Reid Venner (12-15 at 120, district runnerup); Andrew Slade (sophomore, 31-10 at 132, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Sid Madison (senior, 23-12 at 138, district runnerup); Joey Cusick (sophomore, 12-19 at 145, district 3rd); Jacob Williams (junior, 10-13 at 152, district 4th); (potentially) Nick Beenen (26-14 at 160, district runnerup); Paxton Driscoll (senior, 20-15 at 182, district 3rd); Addison Glisson (senior, 9-6 at 195, district runnerup); John Alexander (junior, 14-16 at 220, 1 match from regions); Josiah McCallum (junior, 33-12 at 285, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key losses (to graduation): Kyle Black (25-11 at 126, district champ, region runnerup); Chris Freiha (10-17 at 170, district 3rd).
Program strengths: Deep roster with lots of returners, most of whom are not going to be seniors this fall. Group did more off-season work at higher-level events.
Program needs: Crusaders needed, in the past, a more rigorous in-season IBT schedule (particularly in January), and steps have been taken to augment that.
Matmen’s take: Kenny should be a threat for area top-five honors as a team; Crusaders have proven they can wrestle in both underdog and favorite roles.

Bolles (Jacksonville)
Coach: Matt Morris, 29th year.
2015-16: 7-11 in duals. 12th at Westside Kiwanis, 2nd at Bierbaum Invitational, 16th at Flagler Rotary, 27th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 2nd at district, 7th at region, T-51st at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 8th at region, T-32nd at states. 2014 — 2nd at district, 12th at region, T-31st at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Josh Bono (freshman, 9-17 at 106, 1 match from regions); Dalton Posick (freshman, 10-17 at 113, district 4th); Julian Morris (freshman, 8-18 at 120, district 3rd); Bennett Zimmerman (junior, 18-16 at 126, district 3rd); KJ Fagan (sophomore, 14-15 at 132, district champ, 1 match from states); CJ Grimes (sophomore, 7-13 at 160, district 3rd); Forrest Andrews (senior, 15-10 at 170, district runnerup); Caleb Calhoun (senior, 15-10 at 182, district champ, 1 match from states); Rushton Roberts (junior, 17-13 at 195, district champ); Justin Mitchell (senior, 14-12 at 220, district runnerup); Mason Yost (junior, 4-18 at 285, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Gray Creed (24-11 at 138, district champ, 1 match from states); Conner Cronk (28-7 at 145, district champ, region 3rd); Michael Surenyan (24-14 at 152, district runnerup, region 4th).
Program strengths: Solid mix of younger and more-experienced talent returns (11 post-season starters) this fall. Solid schedule usually pays off in the end.
Program needs: Going to need some help in the key middlwweights, where a lot of career wins have graduated. Program would benefit from starting the road to Bolles’ fast finishes just a couple of weeks sooner.
Matmen’s take: Deep football run will mean we’ll not see full-speed Bulldog team until 2017, but Bolles has proved it can build momentum in a hurry.

Bradford (Starke)
Coach: Devin Paulk, 1st year.
2015-16: 17-12 in duals. 5th at Westside Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 6th at district, 22nd at region. 2015 — 10th at district, 30th at region. 2014 — 4th at district, 10th at region, 27th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Antonio Urolia (junior, 19-5 at 120, did not compete in post-season); Adam Wilson (junior, 12-17 at 132, district 4th); Dylan Drow (sophomore, 13-10 at 138, district 3rd); Andrew Hetler (senior, 23-15 at 145, district 4th); Trevor Jones (senior, 13-12 at 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Lane Gillenwaters (junior, 6-16 at 152, 1 match from regions); Chris Hart (senior, 9-9 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Clayton Rhoden (junior, 13-22 at 195, 1 match from regions); Eddie McCormick (senior, 23-11 at 220, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Jason Griffis (31-5 at 126, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Grayson Montgomery (8-10 at 182, 0-2 at districts).
Program strengths: Good nucleus of a dual-meet team, with six post-season returners and a few other regular-season starters that did not compete at the district tournament. Having the coaching staff return for a second season in 2015-16 was a plus.
Program needs: Beef up the dual meet schedule and add at least one, if not multiple, IBT events. Bradford has to travel more and wrestle tougher competition in order for the Tornadoes to get better.
Matmen’s take: Still looking for a schedule at this writing; Tornadoes need mat time and travel time in order to rebuild program to previous levels.

Episcopal (Jacksonville)
Coach: Lance Day, 2nd year.
2015-16: 6-11 in duals. 5th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 9th at Capital City Classic, 6th at Bierbaum Invitational, 12th at Wakulla Challenge, 6th at 5 Star Invitational, 12th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 4th at district, 9th at region, T-11th at states. 2015 — 6th at district, 20th at region, T-70th at states. 2014 — 8th at district, 28th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Kyle Hopkins (freshman, 37-9 at 106, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Reid Hampton (freshman, 22-21 at 120, district champ); Christian Rickey (senior, 42-12 at 170, district champ, 1 match from states); Freddie Dollison (sophomore, 11-26 at 182, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (to graduation): Scott Dollison (43-5 at 220, district champ, region runnerup, state runnerup); Conor Chepenik (48-6 at 285, district champ, region champ, state runnerup).
Program strengths: Very strong, young and aggressive coaching staff. Schedule is, for the most part, an ambitious one for a program that is still mostly in its earliest stages. School serves as venue for one of the city’s thriving off-season programs.
Program needs: Numbers would be a big boost in improving the overall quality of the room, as Episcopal’s dual-team strength would come closer to its showings in IBTs.
Matmen’s take: Eagles had strong IBT presence in 2015-16 due to high-powered nucleus; long-term overall success largely dependent on numbers this season.

Florida School for the Deaf & Blind (St. Augustine)
Coach: Travis Homewood, 3rd year.
2015-16: 5-21 in duals. 14th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 13th at 5 Star Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 8th at district. 2015 — 4th at district, 19th at region, T-66th at states. 2014 — 5th at district, 25th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Christian Miranda-Reyes (junior, 17-13 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Johan Valentin-Sarmiento (junior, 15-16 at 113/120, did not compete in post-season); Tayshaun Smith (freshman, 9-17 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Tyre Singleton (senior, 8-19 at 138, 1 match from regions); Sean Candelaria (senior, 5-27 at 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Anthony Hoyt (junior, 9-17 at 195, 1 match from regions); Manuel Vargas-Jimenez (freshman, 11-13 at 220/285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses: None.
Program strengths: Dragons have continued to find new recruits for the varsity lineup, under tricky circumstances at best. Coaching staff has performed a yeoman-like job in working with so many youngsters. Although post-season returners are few, there are several others with decent regular-season experience.
Program needs: It has been difficult to keep roster members wrestling during the traditional “off-season” period. Group needs the kind of mat time it was getting two seasons ago, with more matches, to get more positive improvements from year to year.
Matmen’s take: Reaching the 2014-15 level might be difficult for this year’s Dragons, but should take improvement steps compared to last year.

Pedro Menendez (St. Augustine)
Coach: Kevin Leonard, 1st year in position.
2015-16: 22-28 in duals. 21st at Flagler Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 3rd at district, 13th at region. 2015 — 3rd at district, 10th at region, T-55th at states. 2014 — 6th at district, 24th at region, T-66th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): RJ Iglesias (sophomore, 34-22 at 113, district 3rd); Robert Lazar (sophomore, 14-16 at 113/120, did not compete in post-season); Olivia Bordley (junior, 12-21 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Brandon Durham (senior, 6-22 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Collin Tanner (junior, 19-32 at 138, district 4th); David Soule (junior, 20-21 at 145, district runnerup); Max Worthington (senior, 29-13 at 160, district champ); Alex Cathcart (junior, 4-13 at 170, district 4th); Brycel Myers (junior, 8-13 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Carter Payne (sophomore, 7-10 at 182, 1 match from regions); Justin Van Hoogten (senior, 26-4 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season); Austyn Holsolmback (sophomore, 4-5 at 195, district 3rd); Joshua Hewett (junior, 14-6 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Hunter Conner (junior, 8-15 at 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (to graduation): Limuel Mallari (42-19 at 106, district 3rd); Alex Wanner (11-9 at 126, district 4th); Avery Samples (50-10 at 152, district champ, 1 match from states); Brandan Anderson (25-6 at 182, did not compete in post-season); Joseph Phelts (18-5 at 220, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Jeansiel Candelaria (12-19 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Solid group of returners, plus a deep corps of reserves inside a program that is on much better footing, numbers-wise, than it was two years ago. Falcons have demonstrated they can be a particularly motivated group.
Program needs: New head coach, would be Falcons’ third in the previous three seasons plus this one forthcoming. Another IBT event, particularly an elite one, would benefit Menendez when it comes to region-level competition in particular.
Matmen’s take: Leonard is the newest coach to take over a program, hired just before practice began; hitting the ground running will be key for Falcons.

University Christian (Jacksonville)
Coach: Brian Adkins, 1st year in position.
2015-16: 6-13 in duals. 26th at Capital City Classic, 25th at Bill Scott Memorial, 8th at Bierbaum Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 5th at district, 20th at region, T-56th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, T-22nd at region, T-47th at states. 2014 — 3rd at district, 3rd at region, 7th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Cameron Wiley (sophomore, 16-13 at 106, district 4th); Daniel Porter (junior, 26-9 at 113, district champ, region 3rd); Phillip Wright (sophomore, 6-21 at 120, district 4th); Shane McManus (junior, 11-16 at 145, 1 match from regions); Derrick Stumph (sophomore, 16-16 at 152, district 3rd); Zachary Oakley (freshman, 4-12 at 160, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Michael Marshall (18-11 at 182, district runnerup).
Program strengths: Have a solid coaching hire in place with Adkins, who runs the Duval Wrestling Academy at UCS during the off-season. A young group in the lowers will have two full seasons to grow together, as there are no rising seniors in the group that wrestled post-season in February.
Program needs: Will need some more numbers, particularly in the upper weights, but an established coaching presence could help secure that. Like Bolles, will be hampered somewhat by late arrival of football players to the winter season.
Matmen’s take: Once Christians are all in place in January, we’ll be able to see full extent of Adkins’ influence on the program.

Wolfson (Jacksonville)
Coach: Scott Marabell, 4th year.
2015-16: Unknown in duals. 10th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 13th at Gateway Conference.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 7th at district, 29th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 11th at region, T-32nd at states. 2014 — 10th at district, 21st at region, 39th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Keayon Gray (sophomore, 106, 1 match from regions); Hector Rosado (sophomore, 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Sai Hassalla (senior, 132, district 3rd); Mark Harrington (junior, 152, did not compete in post-season); Keethan Seay (junior, 182, district 4th); Lance Schlecter (junior, 195, district 4th); Ronald Brunson (junior, 285, region 3rd).
Key losses: None.
Program strengths: Skill level is going up from season to season, particularly among returning wrestlers. Lower weights have some good numbers and Brunson is a diamond in the rough in terms of skill.
Program needs: Schedule needs more beefing up in order for Wolfpack to do any contending outside the city; even inside the city offers no cakewalks.
Matmen’s take: Progress has been slow for the Wolfpack, but it is taking place, as wrestlers stay with the program.

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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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