This is always the hardest district for me to predict, because we don’t cover every team in it, it’s therefore always tough to determine who will slot in where at each weight, and I’m not going to attempt it this year.
Here’s what I do know: Last year, with a much more solid Crystal River team and a more solid Palatka team, only three kids were eliminated from district competition. None of them were local. So, for me, it stands to reason that the kids who make weight Thursday at Crystal River should be moving on to 1A-Region 2 next week at Astronaut.
As for team success, I still would project my preseason pick, Crystal River, as the runaway champion, as the Pirates were last year. Even though Crystal River took some losses, Palatka’s lineup this year didn’t keep all of its returners, and as a result the Panthers have had more struggles. However, they have enough numbers that Palatka should still take second. I would project Interlachen and Dunnellon and Trinity Catholic to battle it out for third, as North Marion does not seem to have fielded a team this year. Not as sure about Ocala’s St. John Lutheran. Assuming that North Marion and SJL don’t have representation, I would see Eastside sixth. It’s been a tough year for the Rams, who haven’t — by my lights — made an appearance on the mats since Cities.
Individually from a local context, the strongest contenders for district titles should be Interlachen’s Corey Adkins, whether he competes at 182 or 195, and Palatka’s Bryan Smith at 220. But almost all, if not all, of the local contingents that suit up Thursday should at least advance.