TurkeyNWrestling: 2A-District 1

Team synopsis: Like with 1A-District 1, this is Matmen’s first stab at projecting the 2A-District 1 race. And it looks like a monster to try to pick out a favorite.

Last year’s district champion, Tate, was hammered by graduation losses, but might return the best individual wrestler(s) in the district. Pace lost their two top competitors from a year ago, but could have a stronger club this year.

Niceville, Choctaw and Ft Walton Beach all return sizable contingents that looked like they would achieve more, at times, in 2015-16, but that actually could start showing results this year (the smart money, already, among people in the know is to watch out for Niceville in future seasons).

Crestview and Gulf Breeze aren’t going to be teams that will just be walked over, and Milton is doing more of the right things it needs to be doing to eventually achieve success.

Of the 10 districts I’m covering, this one might have the most possibility for new teams to come out of the woodwork, and the most possibility for Matmen-as-prognosticator to be wrong.

As in 1A-District 1, most of the results that I received last year are partial results; I believe only Gulf Breeze’s were accurate for the entire season, and that was due to the Dolphins reporting duals on Track (always a good idea, in this reporter’s opinion).

Projected finish: 1. Pace. 2. Ft Walton Beach. 3. Niceville. 4. Choctaw. 5. Gulf Breeze. 6. Tate. 7. Crestview. 8. Milton.

Choctawhatchee (Ft Walton Beach)
Coach: Josh Pulliam, 6th year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. 17th at Border Wars, 22nd at Capital City Classic, 4th at Gulf Breeze Invitational, 4th at Trojan Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 6th at district, 20th at region, T-41st at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 17th at region. 2014 — 2nd at district, 6th at region, T-26th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jerson Cabiao (sophomore, 32-16 at 106, district runnerup); Aaron Ojeda (senior, 18-18 at 113, district 4th); Jacky Grissom (junior, 113, did not compete in post-season); Logan Myer (sophomore, 16-22 at 126, 1 match from regions); Hunter Pelfrey (sophomore, 5-17 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Nathan Gunn (junior, 22-20 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Isaac Smith (senior, 34-12 at 160, 1 match from regions); Sam Mason (senior, 39-16 at 182, district champ, 1 match from states); Hunter Merrell (senior, 9-17 at 195, 0-2 at districts); David Zapata (senior, 18-13 at 285, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Nelson Elder (46-12 at 120, district champ, region 4th, state 6th); Daniel Smith (21-19 at 132, 1 match from regions); David Sherman (22-21 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Mycah Sutton (34-11 at 220, district 3rd).
Program strengths: Solid group of returners coming back for Choctaw, with nine wrestling in the post-season. Picked up some regular-season success, with 11 straight dual wins on one occasion. Indians do travel out of the Gulf area to get some different looks, which is always a good thing.
Program needs: With five post-season returners not getting past districts, off-season work needed to be a priority. Team returned to states after not getting there in 2015, but dropped in both the district and region classifications continued.
Matmen’s take: This is still a group capable of challenging for a top-two spot, but off-season prep will tell the tale on how capable Indians will be.

Crestview
Coach: Andrew Black, 5th year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. Unknown for Tate Invitational, Bulldogs’ lone IBT.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 7th at district, 16th at region, T-64th at states. 2015 — 6th at district, 19th at region, T-67th at states. 2014 — 6th at district, T-25th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Edwin Rivera (junior, 3-17 at 106, 0-2 at districts); Darien Hallmon (sophomore, 6-17 at 113, 1 match from regions); Jackson Moore (sophomore, 2-7 at 120, 1 match from regions); Karter Watson (sophomore, 120, did not compete in post-season); Angel Ortega (junior, 20-11 at 126, district 4th); Diego Calonje (junior, 31-6 at 138, district runnerup, region runnerup); Milton Bouchard (junior, 16-14 at 152, 1 match from regions); LaJonte Watson (senior, 16-19 at 170, 1 match from regions); Luis Berrios (senior, 15-14 at 182, 1 match from regions); Austin French (sophomore, 16-18 at 195, district 3rd); Coleman Young (junior, 15-14 at 220, district 4th); Jeremy Cassidy (junior, 12-17 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (to graduation): Michael Cantwell (132, district runnerup, region 3rd); Cody Brooks (3-6 at 145, 1 match from regions); Josh Cantwell (145, did not compete in post-season); Neiko Barnes (22-14 at 160, 0-2 at districts).
Program strengths: Lots of returners coming back for Crestview, many of whom will have at least two years to come back. Bulldogs are making their way up the region classification and made it to states for the third time in the past four seasons.
Program needs: Team needs some off-Gulf competition during the regular season to get itself better-prepared for the post-season and more off-season time to catapult up the ladder of improvement.
Matmen’s take: A tricky group to measure; Bulldogs might struggle as a unit for one more year, but 2017-18 could see real growth for this team.

Ft Walton Beach
Coach: Tobi Marez, 11th year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. 13th at Border Wars, 9th at Swede Umbach Invitational, 7th at Gulf Breeze Invitational, 8th at Wakulla Challenge. Unknown from Southeastern Duals & Tate Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 5th at district, 19th at region, T-76th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 12th at region, T-67th at states. 2014 — 5th at district, 17th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Colwyn Mason (junior, 12-23 at 106, 1 match from regions); Carter Lurk (senior, 26-20 at 120, 1 match from regions); William Bigger (junior, 6-34 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Connor Cleveland (junior, 26-15 at 138, district 4th); Owen Brooks (junior, 3-8 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Matthew Day (senior, 145, did not compete in post-season); Chase Cleveland (senior, 38-10 at 152, district runnerup); Joey Royce (senior, 15-18 at 160, district 4th); Bryce Carter (junior, 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Gabriel Hamilton (senior, 0-3 at 170, 0-2 at districts); Brendon Carter (junior, 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Nick Woodward (junior, 14-23 at 182, 1 match from regions); Brandon Olivieri (junior, 182/195, did not compete in post-season); Brian Haynes (senior, 26-10 at 195, district champ, 1 match from states); Joseph Pearson (senior, 35-10 at 285, district champ, region 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): RJ Leon (41-12 at 113, district runnerup).
Program strengths: Another group that will have a lot of returners in 2016-17, good mix of junior and seniors in place. FWB is not afraid of travel, they will go all over the South to find good competition. Vikings also did some good off-season work.
Program needs: For the successes in-season, FWB didn’t get as much payoff at the end — several kids that wrestled a lot in the regular season were not in the lineup in February. Uppers are a strength, but returning lowers need to at least get to where the middles are, and if they do, that will help everyone.
Matmen’s take: Vikings pose the biggest threat to Pace for district top honors, and don’t be surprised if their schedule prepares them to win it.

Gulf Breeze
Coach: Dave Daily, 1st year as HC.
2015-16: 15-11 in duals. 18th at Border Wars, 5th at Gulf Breeze Invitational, 3rd at Gator Brawl. No team result from Tate Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 3rd at district, 18th at region, T-69th at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 15th at region, T-30th at states. 2014 — 4th at district, 9th at region, T-48th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Katlyn Butcher (junior, 11-11 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Nate Golmon (sophomore, 35-10 at 126, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Noah Losievsky (junior, 35-10 at 132, district champ); Calvin Malo (sophomore, 10-30 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Alex Jacobs (junior, 19-24 at 145, district 4th); Tannen Slack (junior, 42-9 at 170, district champ, 1 match from states); Bradley Miller (senior, 29-14 at 182, district runnerup); Ethan Rocha (senior, 15-16 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season); Drew Drollinger (senior, 7-16 at 195/220, did not compete in post-season); Will Cross (senior, 7-10 at 285, 1 match from regions); Danny Bevil (senior, 6-14 at 285, did not cmpete in post-season).
Key losses (to graduation): Hamada Hamideh (19-25 at 113, 1 match from regions); Aaron Mantuano (52-10 at 152, district 3rd, region 3rd); Brett Latimer (34-2 at 160, district 3rd); Pete Staviski (26-9 at 195, district runnerup).
Program strengths: At least fourth straight season with appearances in the state tournament for this team. Middles will be very solid for the Dolphins once again in 2016-17. Good early schedule gets things off on the right foot.
Program needs: There will be some graduation losses to overcome for the 2A Dolphins, which continued to take a step back on the region classification. Gulf Breeze kids needed more off-season work at state/national level to take another step.
Matmen’s take: If inexperienced kids get on the next level, Dolphins will make a big move up the standings; stars will keep them competitive in IBTs.

Milton
Coach: David Bohannon, 3rd year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. 10th at Gulf Breeze Invitational. Unknown results from Tate Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 8th at district, 24th at region. 2015 — 9th at district. 2014 — 7th at district, T-25th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Donovan Smith (senior, 17-19 at 106, 1 match from regions); Ian Van Gestel (sophomore, 11-29 at 113, 0-2 at districts); Marcus DeLoach (junior, 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Camryn Smith (senior, 11-29 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Aiden Sterba (sophomore, 10-28 at 138, 1 match from regions); JerVaungh Craig (senior, 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Eric Simmons (junior, 29-22 at 145, district 3rd); Xavier Morgan (senior, 13-17 at 152, 1 match from regions); Dakota Busbee (sophomore, 8-5 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Seth Martin (senior, 29-15 at 170, district 3rd); Jovanni Salas (senior, 8-28 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Brandon Ortiz (junior, 10-10 at 195, 1 match from regions); Connor Saint (junior, 9-14 at 220, 1 match from regions); Hunter Hall (senior, 36-5 at 285, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key losses: None.
Program strengths: Milton loses no wrestlers from 2015-16 post-season lineup, which is always a plus for team chemistry from year to year. Got three wrestlers to week 2 of the post-season after no one advanced out of districts in 2015. Team did engage in some off-season work, recognizing the improvements it needed to make.
Program needs: Program should consider traveling to a couple of out-of-area events in order to prep more fully for the post-season; even a little more in-area variety is a good thing.
Matmen’s take: No graduation loss is always a good thing; Panthers have opportunity to grow together and get stronger as a unit.

Niceville
Coach: Travis Laxton, 1st year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. 19th at Border Wars, T-16th at Capital City Classic, 20th at Barry Mask Invitational, 11th at Wakulla Challenge, 26th at Clay Rotary. Unknown results from Tate Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 4th at district, 13th at region, T-64th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, T-7th at region, T-40th at states. 2014 — 3rd at district, 8th at region, 46th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Dominic Cerillo (senior, 17-13 at 106, district 3rd, region runnerup); Zach Hartzog (junior, 47-13 at 120, district runnerup, 1 match from states); David Palmer (junior, 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Bailey Howes (junior, 28-23 at 132, district 4th); Ryan Graff (senior, 21-14 at 138, 1 match from regions); Jack Johnson (junior, 52-13 at 145, district champ, region runnerup); Cannon Crum (senior, 41-17 at 152, district 4th); Devon Moseley (senior, 7-7 at 160, 1 match from regions); Wesley Sites (senior, 21-30 at 170, 1 match from regions); Darrius Pena (junior, 29-9 at 195, district 4th); Seth Witt (senior, 39-18 at 220, district runnerup).
Key losses: Adunyea Nichols (285, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Another program that loses no wrestlers from its post-season lineup of the previous season. Niceville’s stronger kids did engage in bigger off-season work (Disney), and that should pay dividends in February and March of 2017. Strong regular-season schedule.
Program needs: Need to fill in some holes in the lineup, even though there were no graduation losses. Entire Eagle group needed to emulate leaders and engage strongly in off-season activity. Region and state classification positions took a hit.
Matmen’s take: Hiring of a Laxton provides significant impact immediately for program; Eagles might be the sleeping giant of the Northwest.

Pace (Santa Rosa Beach)
Coach: Travis Barnes, 1st year as HC.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. 16th at Border Wars, 11th at Capital City Classic, 2nd at Gulf Breeze Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 2nd at district, 9th at region, T-52nd at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 11th at region, T-44th at states. 2014 — 1st at district, 3rd at region, T-32nd at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Austin O’Gara (senior, 38-14 at 106, district 4th); Joseph Verda (junior, 24-12 at 113, district 3rd); Kevin Green (senior, 36-17 at 120, district 4th); Leland Knoch (senior, 42-15 at 126, district 3rd); Owen Moore (junior, 27-14 at 132, district 3rd); David Montano (senior, 17-15 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Sullivan Gerlits (senior, 29-20 at 160, district runnerup, region 4th); Justin Gehrke (junior, 28-18 at 170, district 4th); John Gunther (sophomore, 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Brian Miller (senior, 41-17 at 182, district 4th); Nick Singletary (senior, 22-9 at 195, 0-2 at districts); Brady Deloach (junior, 6-13 at 220, 1 match from regions); Murphy Bennett (senior, 38-18 at 285, district 3rd).
Key losses (to graduation): Travis Thompson (54-10 at 138, district champ, region champ); Anthony Krevatas (57-7 at 145, district runnerup, region champ, 1 match from state podium).
Program strengths: Pace has another strong group coming back off a district-runnerup showing, with 12 returners that have post-season experience. Has had at least four years of consecutive state appearances. Good mix of juniors and seniors in the returning group. Schedule is solid, if dual-heavy in the latter half.
Program needs: Krevatas and Thompson were team leaders; this year’s leader will have to emerge quickly. Returning group has worked out together in off-season, but didn’t engage in larger competitions outside the Gulf area (like Disney or Fargo prep).
Matmen’s take: With senior numbers so high, it’s title-or-bust for Patriots, but contending for district honors by this group has been the standard.

Tate (Cantonment)
Coach: Reggie Allen, 3rd year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. 3rd at Gulf Breeze Invitational, 1st at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 5th at Wakulla Challenge. Unknown for Tate Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district, 6th at region, T-14th at states. 2015 — 7th at district, 20th at region, T-67th at states. 2014 — 9th at district, T-28th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jacob Cochran (junior, 40-11 at 106, district champ, region 3rd, state 6th); Mathew Blalock (junior, 106, did not compete in post-season); Alex Porter (senior, 113, district champ, region 4th, state 6th); Isiah Brill (junior, 13-22 at 145, 1 match from regions); Jeffrey Rafuse/Orth (senior, 145, did not compete in post-season); Juan Alvarez (junior, 20-13 at 160, district champ); Jacob Neales (senior, 12-17 at 195, 1 match from regions); Jacob Nowling (junior, 0-15 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (to graduation): Scott Houston (21-18 at 120, district 3rd); Tanner Wood (40-11 at 126, district champ, region 3rd); Brandon Pheabus (14-13 at 132, 1 match from regions); Daniel Pigg (138, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Logan Womack (152, district champ, 1 match from states); Heath Herndon (33-11 at 170, district runnerup, region 4th); Dalston Decoux (8-4 at 182, district 3rd); Gaven McAnally (42-7 at 220, district champ, region runnerup, state 5th).
Program strengths: Big improvements in district, region and state standings over 2015 numbers. Might be tough to duplicate district team title, but three individual champs do return. Lower weights should be a highlight; Cochran repped Team Florida at Junior National Duals, competing at 100 there. Tate does hit some stronger events during the regular season to prepare for tournament run.
Program needs: Pretty heavy graduation losses will be tricky to overcome for the Aggies. The middle weights, in particular, are going to have some holes to fill.
Matmen’s take: Cochran & Porter might be the best wrestlers in the district, rest of the Aggies need to step up for Tate to keep up their success.

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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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