TurkeyNWrestling: 3A-District 1

Team synopsis: Seven kids. 317 mat victories last year.

Not many teams can lose a combined total of seven post-season starters and still maintain a mutual stranglehold over their district, but Fleming Island and Flagler Palm Coast are not just any ordinary teams.

The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles are strong enough to put together the lions’ share of star power in a 3A-District 1 title chase that makes the district the strongest in Region 1, it in turn being the strongest region — depth-wise — in 3A. Both return a ton of talent.

It’s not a cop-out to rank these teams as tied in the overall area team rankings. They were a half-point apart at districts last year. One. Half. Point. Right now, I think depth favors Flagler and star power favors Fleming. So, I’m kinda tossing a coin and, like a lot of you, will see how the season plays out. Their first meeting will be at Lyman on December 16-17, and we’ll start to really sort it out then.

Buchholz has quietly filled in behind the titanic struggle of the district’s giants, and made itself a capable “best of the rest” pick-to-click for third, having finished there each of the past three seasons.

The middle of the group in the district, the 4-8 spots, are the interesting toss-up. Oakleaf has the county tradition, but fourth new head coach in as many years. Sandalwood has run the Gateway for the past two seasons, but took some graduation losses. Fletcher has the starters, but has fizzled out in the post-season. Robert E. Lee has athleticism and numbers, but has been inconsistent. Mandarin picks off a lot of wins in-season, but its schedule hasn’t prepped it for February. One of these teams will be fourth, one eighth.

Atlantic Coast and First Coast have had some solid seasons in recent years, but both teams are in clear rebuild modes, at least this season.

Projected finish: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Flagler Palm Coast. 3. Buchholz. 4. Oakleaf. 5. Sandalwood. 6. Fletcher. 7. Robert E. Lee. 8. Mandarin. 9. Atlantic Coast. 10. First Coast.

Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville)
Coach: Montavis Mack, 1st year as HC.
2015-16: Unknown in duals. 9th at Gateway Conference, 7th at 5 Star Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 5th at district, 13th at region, 25th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, T-28th at region. 2014 — 5th at district, 22nd at region, T-44th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Zion Bradley (sophomore, 5-13 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Marco Hunter (junior, 8-22 at 113, 0-2 at districts); Austin Penrod (junior, 7-14 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Christian Knight-Banker (junior, 3-17 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Tywaine Rocheburn (senior, 18-14 at 145, 1 match from regions); Seth Stratton (sophomore, 8-13 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Uriah Ford (junior, 13-15 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Darius Idlebird (junior, 195/220, did not compete in post-season); Kurk Jackson (senior, 22-8 at 220, district 3rd).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Sir Isaac Demps (5-8 at 138, 1 match from regions); Narek Stepanyan (see below for stats and discussion; transferred to Fletcher); DeAngeles Harris (31-5 at 285, district champ, region runnerup, state 3rd).
Program strengths: Decent amount of returners back. Hosts one of the better single-day duals events (from a hosting standpoint). Middleweights will be the strongest focal point for Atlantic Coast.
Program needs: Program needs to go outside the greater Jacksonville area more in order to push the level of competition (only weekend competition outside city was Bartram Trail’s 1-day duals event). Needs at least one more IBT event. More off-season wrestling is needed as well.
Matmen’s take: Young Stingray wrestlers (in terms of experience on the mat) need lots of mat time as young coaching staff reshapes AC program.

Buchholz (Gainesville)
Coach: Billy Pankey, 11th year.
2015-16: 21-8 in duals. 4th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 12th at Bill Scott Memorial, T-17th at George Jenkins IBT, 13th at Clay Rotary, 29th at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 3rd at district, 15th at region, T-61st at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 13th at region, T-30th at states. 2014 — 3rd at district, 11th at region, T-62nd at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Bryan Perkins (sophomore, 12-17 at 106, 0-2 at districts); William Green-Church (sophomore, 18-19 at 113, did not compete in post-season); Andrique Broughton (senior, 32-17 at 120, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Gant Moore (senior, 48-11 at 126, district runnerup, region 3rd); Ben Hogan (senior, 21-17 at 138, district 4th); Tracen Ransdell (sophomore, 11-10 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Amani Self (sophomore, 0-7 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Christine Goff (senior, 8-16 at 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Khauriee Sullivan (senior, 34-17 at 152, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Dylan Lewis (senior, 26-18 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Aaron Menden (junior, 15-24 at 195, 1 match from regions); Jose Romero (senior, 7-7 at 220, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (to graduation): Tommy Howell (42-15 at 132, district 4th); Erik Kverneland (39-12 at 160, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Gerald Rushing (30-17 at 170, district 4th).
Program strengths: Program has become fairly solid, while competing in some isolation among 3A district teams, given the meets Bobcats attend. Solid, dedicated coaching staff takes team to find best competition north of the Orlando corridor. Solid, if not spectacular, off-season commitment helps key wrestlers get better.
Program needs: Bobcats could use some more consistent upperweight presence to compete more fully with titans of the district. Some younger blood will be needed, particularly after this upcoming season.
Matmen’s take: Buchholz has quietly taken third at districts each of past 3 years; this year, Bobcats look to be clear favorites to retain that spot.

First Coast (Jacksonville)
Coach: Brian Kaminski, 2nd year.
2015-16: 4-23 in duals. 14th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 7th at Gateway Conference, 12th at 5 Star Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 10th at district, T-35th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 12th at region, T-23rd at states. 2014 — 6th at district, 23rd at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jason Schwartz (sophomore, 22-17 at 106, 1 match from regions); La’kiyyah Steney (senior, 8-19 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Quentin Jones (junior, 11-22 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Tremajae Johnson (sophomore, 3-22 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Shelton Jackson (junior, 6-10 at 145, did not compete in post-season); Tyshawn Anderson (sophomore, 4-14 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Jacob Gaskell (senior, 5-31 at 170, 0-2 at districts); Trever Bruce (senior, 11-23 at 182, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (to graduation): Erik Sirmans (14-3 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Joshua Rivers (34-12 at 152, district 4th); Joshua Story (11-13 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Program strengths: Has some tradition, and has a pool of athletic talent with which to recruit new blood into the program. Energetic coaching staff that is “in the building,” which can be a key component. In between his freshman and sophomore years, Schwartz got in some good off-season work.
Program needs: Needed to overcome a lot of regular-season injuries this year. More experience with winning, as lone region qualifier graduated in May. New blood is needed to come in, with just five kids that wrestled in the post-season returning, but there were others who had extensive regular-season mat time.
Matmen’s take: Top two kids lost to graduation (one to season-ending injury), time for Buccaneers to start building new tradition from ground up.

Flagler Palm Coast (Palm Coast)
Coach: Tommy Bartolotta, 5th year.
2015-16: 19-4 in duals. 3rd at H-Town Throwdown, 4th at Bill Scott Memorial, 1st at King of the Ring, 2nd at Flagler Rotary, 1st at Five Star Conference, 24th at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 2nd at district, 3rd at region, 8th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 5th at states. 2014 — T-1st at district, 3rd at region, 20th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): John Johnson (sophomore, 25-22 at 106, district 4th); Andrew Jones (sophomore, 16-13 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Avery Holder (junior, 43-6 at 113, district runnerup, region runnerup, state 5th); Michael DeAugustino (junior, 57-3 at 120, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Trace Insalaco (sophomore, 40-18 at 126, district 4th, 1 match from states); Nathan St. Pierre (junior, 24-14 at 132, district runnerup); Michael Martins (junior, 18-6 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Tyrone Jones (sophomore, 11-10 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Eddie Bryant (senior, 31-22 at 170, district runnerup); Steve Canidate (senior, 33-16 at 182, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Anthony Mascraella (junior, 16-9 at 195, district 3rd); Tyler Irigoyen (sophomore, 16-12 at 195, did not compete in post-season); Justin Haaf (senior, 31-15 at 220, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Vincent Ebanks (senior, 35-17 at 285, district 3rd).
Key losses (to graduation): Tariq Johnson (41-15 at 138, district 3rd, region 4th, 1 match from state podium); Evyn Insalaco (55-7 at 145, district champ, region 3rd); Kaz Maia (52-2 at 152, district champ, region runnerup, state runnerup); Eric Vigo (37-9 at 160, district champ, region 4th).
Program strengths: One of the strongest schedules wrestled in the coverage area has created a room and atmosphere where success is measured in titles. Flagler is one of three teams in the Northeast coverage area that is far ahead of the rest of the group. Excellent attention given to hosting events in-season and to off-season work.
Program needs: Some graduation losses in the middleweights will have to be overcome, but FPC has tons of talent (that saw solid time even this past season) in the room that will make that happen. Continued waves of new blood will be needed for depth purposes, and eventually to become the new starters, and the Bulldogs can probably handle that as well.
Matmen’s take: Bulldogs one of the giants of the area; Flagler looking to be slightly better than Fleming in dual format, hence overall ranking tie.

Fleming Island (Orange Park)
Coach: PJ Cobbert, 9th year.
2015-16: 23-1 in duals. 1st at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 1st at Bill Scott Memorial, 6th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 1st at Flagler Rotary, 2nd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district. 2015 — 2nd at district, 3rd at region, 12th at states. 2014 — T-1st at district, 2nd at region, 7th at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Albie Snedaker (junior, 45-10 at 106, district champ, region 4th, 1 match from state podium); Deandre Demus (sophomore, 44-6 at 113, district champ, region 4th); Jacob Sandoval (junior, 40-16 at 120, district runnerup, region 4th); Paul Detwiler (junior, 52-9 at 138, district champ, region 3rd, 1 match from state podium); Ian Kincaid (sophomore, 10-9 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Gabe Lear (junior, 25-14 at 160, 1 match from regions); Gabe Lear (junior, 25-14 at 160, did not compete in post-season); Ryan Smenda (senior, 54-6 at 182, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Jason Davis (senior, 51-2 at 195, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Jalyn Robinson (junior, 12-4 at 195/220, did not compete in post-season); Jose Concepcion (junior, 45-9 at 220, district champ, region runnerup); Brandyne Mackey (senior, 32-14 at 285, district runnerup).
Key additions: Briar Jackson (sophomore, 37-17 at 113, 2A-District 3 champ, 2A-Region 1 3rd; transferred from Middleburg).
Key losses (to graduation): Tracy Davis (51-7 at 126, district champ, region champ); Xaiver Sampsel (46-9 at 132, district champ, region runnerup, state 4th); John Martorano (35-7 at 170, district champ, region runnerup, state 5th).
Program strengths: As mentioned above with FPC, Fleming Island is one of the three programs that is ahead of the rest of the coverage area (Clay being the third). Titles are the bar of success, and Fleming’s titlists often carried them to team wins. Golden Eagles, also, wrestle a very tough schedule that makes them battle-tested for post-season. Off-season work at home gets Eagles ready for Disney and for the season ahead.
Program needs: Like FPC, at Fleming young blood, for depth purposes, is always needed. Again, like FPC, there are some middles that will need to be replaced, added (the Golden Eagles ran without a 152 most of the year) or tightened up.
Matmen’s take: Golden Eagles are one of the giants of the area; Fleming might be a slightly better IBT team than Flagler, hence district pick.

Fletcher (Jacksonville)
Coach: David Harrison, 3rd year.
2015-16: 12-4 in duals. 3rd at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 6th at Gateway Conference, 20th at Flagler Rotary, 18th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 9th at district, 31st at region. 2015 — 7th at district, 22nd at region, T-68th at states. 2014 — 4th at district, 14th at region, T-62nd at states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Trent Dalldorf (senior, 21-12 at 113, 0-2 at districts); Rayquan Piper (senior, 24-11 at 120, 1 match from regions); Ivante White (sophomore, 16-14 at 126, 1 match from regions); Vince Hauser (sophomore, 13-11 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Matt Moffitt (senior, 6-12 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Conner Smith (junior, 8-5 at 138, 1 match from regions); Joshua Taylor (senior, 6-24 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Owen Beining (senior, 30-14 at 160, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Donovan Tompkins (junior, 4-8 at 170, 1 match from regions); Julion Fix (senior, 18-0 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Matthew Strong (sophomore, 9-13 at 195, 1 match from regions); Bryce Bednarski (senior, 8-9 at 220, 1 match from regions); Stanley Hollenbach (sophomore, 3-12 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key additions: Narek Stepanyan (senior, 31-6 at 195, district runnerup, region 4th, 1 match from state podium; transferred from Atlantic Coast).
Key losses (to graduation): Brandon Cuevas (20-10 at 106, 1 match from regions); Dominick Belew (26-10 at 145, district 4th).
Program strengths: Strong sense of program identity, even in the face of more difficult results of late. Numbers in the program, as a result of that program identity, are pretty good. Injections of new blood might help to bring about more positive results going forward.
Program needs: Just good results are needed right now. Perhaps Stepanyan’s move might be the shot in the arm the program needed. There’s been a off-season club in place in Neptune Beach, but other than Stepanyan not a lot of wider attention being paid to wrestling at the state/Fargo levels.
Matmen’s take: Senators once dominated Gateway, might have wherewithal to return to top with a big class back; Fletcher needs better post-season run.

Mandarin (Jacksonville)
Coach: John Evans, 4th year.
2015-16: 26-2 in duals. 4th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 2nd at Gateway Conference, 14th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 8th at district, 33rd at region. 2015 — 6th at district, 27th at region. 2014 — 8th at district, T-30th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jamison Harris (sophomore, 23-13 at 113, 1 match from regions); Chase Mattox (senior, 25-5 at 120, 1 match from regions); James Knox (junior, 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Ryan Timmons (senior, 132, did not compete in post-season); Jake Kamins (sophomore, 19-15 at 138, 1 match from regions); Blake Pruitt (senior, 19-12 at 152, 1 match from regions); Adam Spikes (senior, 152/160, did not compete in post-season); Gavin Miles (junior, 23-8 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Mateo Drury (senior, 6-4 at 182, 1 match from regions); Andrew Hudgins (senior, 13-3 at 182, did not compete in post-season); Ben Watkins (senior, 9-6 at 195, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Tanner Brown (31-13 at 126, district 3rd); Josh Harris (16-4 at 132, 1 match from regions); Derek Elian (32-8 at 145, district 3rd); Max Beavor (36-8 at 170, district 3rd, transferred to Clay); Garret Aby (28-5 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Mark Sweat (24-10 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Program has a lot of kids out — a lot, and has systematically — if a bit slowly — gained more and more regular-season success, which is often helpful in generating those kinds of numbers.
Program needs: Having a lot of numbers can be a blessing and a curse, in that there is often a drive to get kids mat time at the potential risk of lost mat time for kids that compete in the post-season. Schedule needs tweaking to reflect a 3A sensibility.
Matmen’s take: Middle weights should be OK with numbers in hand, but losses in uppers tricky to overcome, particularly once February rolls around.

Oakleaf (Orange Park)
Coach: Wes Champ, 1st year.
2015-16: 14-6 in duals. 13th at Westside Kiwanis, 17th at Flagler Rotary, 21st at Clay Rotary, 32nd at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 6th at district, 17th at region, T-54th at states. 2015 — 3rd at 2A-District 3, T-7th at 2A-Region 1, 32nd at 2A states. 2014 — 3rd at 2A-District 3, 10th at 2A-Region 1, T-34th at 2A states.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Ryan Rosano (junior, 36-9 at 106, district runnerup, region runnerup); Kyle Tairovski-Romeu (sophomore, 20-10 at 113, 1 match from regions); Vince Karl (junior, 25-14 at 120, district 4th); Ethan Gustilo (junior, 20-13 at 126, 1 match from regions); Trenton Carroll (sophomore, 9-16 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Luke Karl (senior, 27-9 at 152, district runnerup); Isaiah Graham (junior, 16-15 at 160, 1 match from regions); Austin Gibson (junior, 13-2 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Jesse Jennette (senior, 5-15 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (to graduation except as noted): Anthony Quinones (7-21 at 170, 0-2 at districts); David Thompson (24-13 at 182, district 4th; transferred to Middleburg).
Program strengths: Similarly to Fletcher (but in a very different way), self-identity is very much a strength for the Clay Knights. Having a sizable number of returning wrestlers should be a strength as Oakleaf navigates Year 2 of being a 3A school. As befitting a Clay County program, the Knights have a very competitive schedule. Off-season work was solid; the Knights went in and battled throughout the summer.
Program needs: Program does have holes to fill, particularly in the upper weights. There were a couple of pretty solid kids who had good regular-season experience that didn’t wrestle in the post-season, getting those for a full year will be helpful.
Matmen’s take: Knights fly under radar in-season, in part due to 4 HCs in as many years; Oakleaf has enough back for top-half finish in district.

Robert E. Lee (Jacksonville)
Coach: Ricky Hicks, 3rd year.
2015-16: Unknown for duals. T-14th at Capital City Classic, 3rd at Gateway Conference, 3rd at 5 Star Invitational, 3rd at Westside Classic.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 7th at district, 29th at region. 2015 — 6th at 2A-District 3, 13th at 2A-Region 1, T-67th at 2A states. 2014 — 9th at 2A-District 3, T-28th at 2A-Region 1.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Jacob Anderson (sophomore, 8-18 at 106, 0-2 at districts); Lamar Geter (junior, 25-13 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Darius Wells (junior, 34-12 at 132, 1 match from regions); Christopher Champine (junior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Aaron Base (senior, 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Dorian Bowden (junior, 13-10 at 145, 1 match from regions); William Guyton (sophomore, 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Caleb GaGe (junior, 24-13 at 152, 1 match from regions); Caesare Jenkins (senior, 170/182, did not compete in post-season); David Johnson (senior, 36-9 at 182, district 3rd); Logan Davis (sophomore, 182/195, did not compete in post-season); Christopher Telusma (sophomore, 31-15 at 195, district 4th); William Morton (senior, 18-12 at 220, 0-2 at districts); Jordan Belle (senior, 23-7 at 285, 1 match from regions); Demetris Harris (senior, 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (to graduation unless as noted): Jaren Jefferson (senior, 24-9 at 113, district 4th; moved out-of-state); Tony Belle (20-7 at 160, district 4th); Isaiah Mervin (32-13 at 170, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Another program with the blessing/curse of lots of numbers that see time in the lineup. Athleticism on the mat is very strong across the board. After only Sandalwood, Lee has possibly the strongest fan base of any team in the Gateway.
Program needs: If a post-season lineup can be sorted out sooner and those kids get more matches, it would probably help that group in the post-season race. Schedule does take team out of city once, one more tournament that did that — even if a duals event or round-robin event — would be helpful.
Matmen’s take: Generals’ schedule has to improve for better shot at top half of district, Gateway hopes very much in play once January rolls around.

Sandalwood (Jacksonville)
Coach: Casey Gibson, 4th year.
2015-16: 6-2 in duals. 1st at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 6th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 13th at Bill Scott Memorial, 9th at Tournament of Champions, 1st at Gateway Conference, 11th at Flagler Rotary, 15th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 4th at district, 10th at region, T-45th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 10th at region, T-25th at states. 2014 — 7th at district, T-30th at region.
Individual returners (post-season starters and those with 15+ matches): Leon Cruz (junior, 8-22 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Cameron Bell (senior, 37-12 at 138, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Chandler Bell (senior, 18-11 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Dillon Morency (junior, 17-11 at 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Cole Friend (senior, 18-16 at 182, 1 match from regions); Leonardo Alonzo (sophomore, 11-24 at 220, district 4th).
Key losses (to graduation): Alex Barie (35-14 at 106, district 3rd); Jacques Hale (43-12 at 113, district 3rd, region 3rd, 1 match from state podium); Hayden Raulerson (28-15 at 132, district 3rd); Blake Delapaz (33-14 at 145, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Dominick Porcella (6-20 at 195, 0-2 at districts); Chris Shauman (22-10 at 285, district 4th, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Has the momentum of back-to-back Gateway Conference championships behind it. Strong fan base and committed, enthusiastic coaching staff combine to bolster Saints. Schedule is strong and includes trips to Orlando — something other local 3A programs should emulate.
Program needs: Significant graduation losses will be difficult to overcome — including the loss of four Gateway individual champs that competed in the post-season. Hopefully the injury bug will stay away — only First Coast seemed to be hit harder by it than Sandalwood this past year among 3A teams.
Matmen’s take: Saints’ task to pick up Gateway three-peat harder than perhaps winning and defending were, but still some solid talent in lineup.

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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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