Christmas has nothing on this. THIS is the most wonderful time of the year.
Just remember before you read. It’s not personal, but you’re allowed to take it personally if you want. Prove me wrong. Or prove me right. I like both.
Team outlook: Lincoln projects to be the solid favorite to repeat as district champion. I have the Trojans projected to win eight individual titles, and any time you can win even half (seven) of the weight classes and qualify everybody out, you’ve got a pretty good chance to win. Even with some weights out, I would expect Chiles to finish second in the team race. Leon and Columbia will battle it out for third. The Tigers fill more weights, but the Lions have a bit more firepower, and in a five-team IBT, that counts for a good deal. Gainesville will get kids out, but finishing above fifth in the team standings would be a tall order indeed.
106: 1. Mark Munroe (Lincoln). 2. Ethan Dhanarajan (Chiles). 3. Nathan Fox (Gainesville). 4. Adrienne Britt (Columbia). No dark horse.
My too-short take: Munroe is an overwhelming favorite to take this bracket. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fox made the finals, however.
113: 1. Scotty Tacinelli (Gainesville). 2. Ikeon Myles (Lincoln). 3. Martin Lee (Columbia). No fourth-place wrestler or dark horse.
My too-short take: Three pretty solid kids should advance out of this district. Tacinelli is a little bit ahead of the other two.
120: 1. Michael Crowder (Lincoln). 2. Austin Hall (Chiles). 3. Nicholas Hanson (Gainesville). 4. Ian McGuigan (Columbia). No dark horse.
My too-short take: Crowder missed the first half of the year, but seems to be back on form from the results of the past couple of weeks. Heavy favorite on Friday.
126: 1. Chace Curtis (Columbia). 2. Tyree Young (Lincoln). 3. James Hamilton (Gainesville). No fourth-place wrestler or dark horse.
My too-short take: We have not seen a lot of Curtis since the early part of January, but I’d have to believe he will be ready to roll on Friday night.
132: 1. Matt Ross (Columbia). 2. Logan Mellor (Chiles). 3. Braxton Winder (Lincoln). 4. Elijah Keselowsky (Gainesville). Dark horse: Madison Melton (Leon).
My too-short take: First weight class with a full complement of kids. The Keselowsky-Melton match would be a giant one, as the winner gets a sizable leg up on moving on.
138: 1. Elliott Crum (Lincoln). 2. Daniel Mann (Columbia). 3. Andrew Tychsen (Chiles). 4. Chris Crago (Leon). Dark horse: Dishant Rami (Gainesville).
My too-short take: I’m pretty confident in the top four, but I do wonder how the Mann-Tychsen semi might play out. Crum has been one of Lincoln’s more improved kids this year.
145: 1. Austin Nolan (Chiles). 2. Matt Raulerson (Columbia). 3. Anderson Stennett (Lincoln). 4. Ethan Eudy (Leon). Dark horse: Josh Cohn (Gainesville).
My too-short take: Nolan & Raulerson have separated themselves, Nolan a solid favorite here. Stennett’s full season vs. Eudy’s late start might be the difference.
152: 1. Jeremy Burke (Lincoln). 2. Jaquenez Madison (Leon). 3. Miles Mercer (Chiles). 4. Mitchell Gregory (Columbia). Dark horse: Christian Whitehead (Gainesville).
My too-short take: Burke’s the favorite, but Madison might be one of Leon’s most improved kids this year. Each of these kids could take at least one win at regions next week.
160: 1. Justin Grant (Lincoln). 2. Zion James (Columbia). 3. Justin Harbilas (Gainesville). 4. David Candelaria (Chiles). No dark horse, I think.
My too-short take: Grant is a lock for the title here. If Leon’s Tony Davis returns to the lineup, that would shake up the rest of the order of finish.
170: 1. Jared Newhall (Lincoln). 2. Justin Lopeman (Chiles). 3. Chad Sapp (Columbia). 4. Mason Judd (Leon). Dark horse: Logan Fernandez-Smith (Gainesville).
My too-short take: Again pretty confident with the top four, but there’s some good experienced talent in this weight class, so I would not be surprised with some shuffles.
182: 1. JT Grant (Leon). 2. Gavin Hoard (Chiles). 3. Corey Ryan (Gainesville). 4. Gus Altenburg (Lincoln). Dark horse: David Thompson (Columbia).
My too-short take: Wow. What a final. If both Hoard and Grant are at 182, and I could see Hoard dropping, this final will be worth the price of admission by itself.
195: 1. Henry Segura (Leon). 2. Tanner Washburn (Lincoln). 3. Pierre Toney (Gainesville). 4. Thomas Blake (Chiles). Dark horse: Conner Davidson (Columbia).
My too-short take: Segura should dominate the bracket, I like Washburn more than the rest of the group to join Segura in the final.
220: 1. Josh Martin (Lincoln). 2. Bobby Williams (Chiles). 3. Alex Anzivino (Gainesville). No fourth-place finisher or dark horse.
My too-short take: This final, also, could be one of the better ones of the night. Martin and Williams have had some good battles already this season.
285: 1. Thomas Moss (Lincoln). 2. Chris Williams (Columbia). 3. Donnie Wilburn (Gainesville). 4. Hudson Holland (Leon). Dark horse: Nick Schindler (Chiles).
My too-short take: Moss is the heavy favorite here. Williams had a fall over Wilburn back in January, but it wouldn’t necessarily surprise me to see this go the other way.