TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 5

Team synopsis: A year ago, with Clay having dropped into the district for the previous two seasons only to leave, there was a definite vacuum in 1A-District 5.

The two teams that could boast full lineups, Crystal River and Palatka, were penciled in as the district favorites. Numbers matter in small district tournaments, and full teams — by default — will outperform partial teams where individual talent is more or less equal.

That appears to be the case again this year, with only Crystal River and Palatka returning enough kids to fill a varsity lineup with experience. With seven returning district champs, Crystal River appears to be the favorite once again.

Palatka has enough returners to make second place all but the Panthers’ to claim, but if any of the teams with partial lineups can fill them out the game could change considerably. That will include Interlachen and Eastside, both of which have had numbers issues in the past.

Note: We only list post-season starters for the out-of-area teams. Only Eastside, Interlachen and Palatka will have kids with 15+ matches that didn’t wrestle in the post-season. I wasn’t ready to expand the territory this year. This year. Hope, always, springs eternal, however.

Projected finish: 1. Crystal River. 2. Palatka. 3. Trinity Catholic. 4. North Marion. 5. Dunnellon. 6. Interlachen. 7. Eastside. 8. St. John Lutheran.

Crystal River
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district, 5th at region, 20th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 7th at region, 39th at states. 2014 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, T-36th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters): Dalton David (senior, 38-6 at 106, district champ); Chase Bunts (senior, 46-15 at 113, district champ, region 3rd); Roderick Bruce (sophomore, 8-5 at 120, district champ); Jesse Stills (senior, 19-14 at 126, district 3rd); Josh Thorch (senior, 14-16 at 138, district champ); CJ Lawson (senior, 45-14 at 145, district champ); Mathew Vargulish (junior, 19-26 at 152, district runnerup); Cameron Fischer (junior, 22-23 at 160, district champ); Collin Miller (sophomore, 13-11 at 170, district runnerup); Brian Henderson (sophomore, 19-16 at 220, district runnerup); Jason Graham (senior, 285, district champ, region 3rd).
Matmen’s take: In this district, Crystal River is too strong to overcome, but needs to open up schedule in order to compete with monster Region 2 rivals.

Dunnellon
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 4th at district, 15th at region. 2015 — 9th at district, 28th at region. 2014 — 4th at district, 14th at region, T-36th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters): Trace Corne (sophomore, 12-13 at 160, district runnerup); Chase Evans (junior, 9-11 at 170, 1 match from regions); Chamberlain Kint (senior, 11-15 at 285, district 3rd).
Matmen’s take: Numbers have been an issue for the past two seasons, but Dunnellon was able to secure a top-half finish last year.

Eastside (Gainesville)
Coach: John Blakey, 1st year.
2015-16: Unknown in duals. No IBTs in 2015-16.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 6th at district, T-18th at region. 2015 — 4th at district, 24th at region. 2014 — 9th at district, 30th at region.
Individual returners (using Track records; post-season starters plus those with 15+ matches): Roven Anonuevo (senior, 6-17 at 132, district 4th); Maxwell Tuchman (sophomore, 5-12 at 160, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Niknil Lamba (145, 13-5, district 3rd); Robert Taylor (152, 17-11 at district 3rd); Camilo Moraga-Lewy (182, 12-10, district 3rd); Kenneth Vance (195, 7-5, district 3rd).
Program strengths: Had a solid senior class graduate, with three 3-year starters (at least) in Taylor, Moraga-Lewy and Vance, plus an all-Cities performer in first-year starter Lamba..
Program needs: Numbers. With just two first-year returners coming back from the Eastside post-season lineup, Eastside is at a disadvantage even within its own city limits, let alone in the larger region.
Matmen’s take: Will have to see how things shake out for the Rams under new coach Blakey; numbers are the first priority for Eastside program.

Interlachen
Coach: Craig Borgus, 6th year.
2015-16: 6-26 in duals. 11th at Arlington Optimist, 13th at Ed Kilpatrick Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 5th at district, 14th at region, T-47th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, 25th at region. 2014 — 8th at district, 21st at region.
Individual returners (using Matmen records; post-season starters plus those with 15+ matches): Cade Mason (junior, 25-15 at 132, district runnerup); Julian Rivera (sophomore, 5015 at 170, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Logan Hastings (182, 30-10, district runnerup, region 4th); Lance Hastings (195, 41-6, district champ, region 3rd).
Program strengths: The Hastings boys got Interlachen back in the state tournament after at least three years away. Region finish was the highest it’s been in the past four years. Interlachen has a solid coaching staff, but just hasn’t had that many kids to coach.
Program needs: Numbers. Just four post-season starters in the Interlachen lineup and there weren’t more than five or six kids in the lineup at any one point in the year.
Matmen’s take: Rams have been numbers-challenged all three seasons I’ve followed them; this year might not be very different.

North Marion (Citra)
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 3rd at district, T-20th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 16th at region. 2014 — 5th at district, T-24th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters; season records not available): Daveon Eason (sophomore, 126, 1 match from regions); Bryce Riggs (junior, 152, 1 match from regions); Isaiah Stafford (junior, 160, district 3rd).
Matmen’s take: Will battle Trinity Catholic & Dunnellon once again for third, but any team with numbers would be just about penciled into the spot.

Palatka
Coach: Josh White, 6th year.
2015-16: 17-17 in duals. 26th at Flagler Rotary, 31st at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 2nd at district, T-18th at region. 2015 — 3rd at district, 22nd at region. 2014 — 7th at district, 27th at region.
Individual returners (using Matmen records; post-season starters plus those with 15+ matches): Andrew Leary (sophomore, 16-24 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Marcellus Metson (junior, 14-4 at 113, district runnerup); Isaiah Beauboeuf (junior, 9-14 at 132, district 3rd); Dale Green (junior, 11-14 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Austin Beauboeuf (sophomore, 5-15 at 138, district 3rd); Branden Lee (sophomore, 10-29 at 145, district 4th); Jamar Danzler (senior, 12-31 at 152, district 4th); Jason Gullet (senior, 15-20 at 170, district 3rd); Kedrick Davis (junior, 26-14 at 182, district 4th); Bryan Smith (junior, 26-13 at 195, district 4th); Ira Dixon (junior, 19-5 at 220/285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (due to graduation): Shade Ward (120, 24-12, district runnerup); Dean Lowe (126, 27-14, district runnerup).
Program strengths: Solid program numbers, plus a few key kids that will return that aren’t listed on the returner list here but saw plenty of time as starters during the regular season. Solid coaching staff in place. Schedule was very tough this past season.
Program needs: Panthers need experienced hands — probably coming from the upper weights in 2016-17 — to wrestle to full capability and break through to the show.
Matmen’s take: Will not be challenged for second place, but the group would have to make a big push to make a run at Crystal River for the title.

St. John Lutheran (Ocala)
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 8th at district, 26th at region. First-year program in 2015-16.
Individual returners (post-season starters): Jordan Turner (senior, 4-1 at 138, district runnerup).
Matmen’s take: Program will need more numbers to contemplate a top-half district finish.

Trinity Catholic (Ocala)
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 7th at district, 23rd at region. 2015 — 7th at district, 17th at region, T-70th at states. 2014 — 6th at district, 28th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters; season records not available): Collin Smith (senior, 113, district 3rd); Robert Castaneda (senior, 126, district 4th); Anthony Riggins (senior, 152, district champ).
Matmen’s take: Quality of returners places the Celtics above the rest of the district group for third place.

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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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