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: Who is going to take this district? It could be as hotly contested as last year, but the way that the teams are competing right now, I’m tipping toward Middleburg to repeat. The Broncos are short a couple of weights, but pins are going to matter a lot in this seven-team district, and if there’s something Middleburg loves to go out and get, it’s pinning combinations. It’s definitely going to be a Clay County fight for the top, however. Orange Park has had solid results, and they could win it. Ridgeview’s youngsters now have a full season under them; they’re not so young anymore, and they have some star power. They might win it. Englewood should be the fourth as the top Duval County team in the mix, and they’ll fight it out for 4-6 with Ed White and Terry Parker. Commanders might put a little run in there, yet, if they got healthy from last month. Stanton has some decent kids, but not enough weights filled yet where they will contend in the team race. (Editor’s purely personal side note: The Blue Devils SHOULD have a 285 in thelr lineup, but Matmen has been trying to run that idea up the flagpole for YEARS NOW, without success. Sigh.)
106: 1. Tazz Hampton (Middleburg). 2. Cameron Broughton (Orange Park). 3. Tyler Stoddard (Ed White). 4. Gabe Guzman (Ridgeview). Dark horse: Cameron Courtenay (Englewood).
My too-short take: Broughton and Stoddard have both been out of the lineup for a while. If both are back, and in the same half, could be a good semi. Hampton’s a little bit ahead of both, I think.
113: 1. Frank Sawyer (Orange Park). 2. Jonathan Kaylor (Ridgeview). 3. Logan Kline (Middleburg). 4. Tyler Meade (Ed White). Dark horse: Hunter Padgett (Englewood).
My too-short take: We haven’t seen Sawyer in the lineup for a little while, but if he’s back and at weight, he should win this weight class. I could see some mix-and-match among the rest of the group, though.
120: 1. Marcus Reid (Ridgeview). 2. Dean Ganci (Orange Park). 3. Dairo Guerra (Englewood). 4. Dalton Falana (Middleburg). Dark horse: Miles Every (Stanton).
My too-short take: Reid is a lock to win the weight class, and Ganci would be a lock for the final. 3-5 could see a little bit of mix-and-match, however.
126: 1. Tanner Belden (Ridgeview). 2. Christopher Burch (Middleburg). 3. Nic Thompson (Orange Park). 4. Jacob East (Ed White). Dark horse: Tyler Crawford (Englewood).
My too-short take: Like Sawyer at 113, we haven’t seen Belden in the lineup for a while. If he is back and at weight, he would be the solid favorite. Some play in the rest of the bracket — all of it if Belden doesn’t go.
132: 1. Bryce Williams (Middleburg). 2. Requan Works (Ridgeview). 3. Robert McGlynn (Orange Park). 4. Gabriel Navearro (Stanton). Dark horse: Englewood wrestler.
My too-short take: Williams and Works are part of the next wave for both the Broncos and Panthers, young wrestlers jumping in with both feet. I’ve liked what I’ve seen from Williams, on the mat.
138: 1. Saeid Ejmali (Ridgeview). 2. Dashner St. Vilus (Orange Park). 3. Justin Stoddard (Ed White). 4. Dustin Tollison (Middleburg). Dark horse: Tymofiy Hryhorchuck (Stanton).
My too-short take: Ejmali will roll to the district title, but it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if any of the other three kids I have making it out reached the final.
145: 1. Malachi Martin (Ridgeview). 2. Trenton Carroll (Middleburg). 3. Richard Cuiksa (Orange Park). 4. Tanner Kern (Englewood). Dark horse: Stanton wrestler.
My too-short take: Martin’s another freshman in the new wave of Panther wrestlers that took lumps between 8th and 9th grade last summer. That pays off this weekend.
152: 1. Mitchell Mika (Stanton). 2. Jacob Campbell (Orange Park). 3. Deion Marshall (Englewood). 4. Reed Propes (Ridgeview). Dark horse: Joe Manfredi (Middleburg).
My too-short take: Mika’s payoff for being the lone Stanton wrestler for two seasons comes this weekend also. Campbell and Marshall could be a good semifinal, if in same half.
160: 1. Tavian Whitehead (Englewood). 2. Cody Eastwood (Middleburg). 3. D’Angelo Johnson (Terry Parker). 4. Walter Goodman (Ed White). Dark horse: Abraham Sunworbah (Orange Park).
My too-short take: Yes, Johnson pinned Whitehead at Gateway, I don’t think that would repeat. But Johnson is good, as his performance at North Bay Haven showed. We haven’t seen Goodman in a while. Eastwood is consistently solid.
170: 1. Nartorian Lee (Orange Park). 2. Dylan Hanna (Middleburg). 3. Landon Dains (Terry Parker). 4. John Tiedeman (Ridgeview). Dark horse: Patrick Lehman (Stanton).
My too-short take: Lee will be the solid favorite to win the district even if Hanna is not here (Middleburg has some options with its uppers, I could see him at 182).
182: 1. Bryan Heflin (Middleburg). 2. Michel Augustin (Englewood). 3. Reed Danielson (Orange Park). 4. Boakai Kanneh (Terry Parker). Dark horse pick: Elijah Luna (Ed White).
My too-short take: Could be one of the better finals if Heflin isn’t moved up (Hanna-Augustin would be, also). Pretty solid group at this weight, the way it shook out.
195: 1. Damian Deleston (Ed White). 2. Robert Stigler (Orange Park). 3. Ben Sabella (Terry Parker). Dark horse: Ben Elliot (Orange Park). No fourth-place finisher or dark horse.
My too-short take: If Ben Elliot does/can return for the Raiders, that might impact this. With this field, Deleston is the choice. If Hanna & Heflin move up, I’d pencil Heflin in at 1.
220: 1. Tyler Dehart (Orange Park). 2. Zachary Smith (Terry Parker). 3. Michael Montalbo (Stanton). 4. Christopher Lands (Englewood). No dark horse.
My too-short take: Dehart would be, I think, as heavy a favorite in this bracket as Reid is at 120. He should dominate the day.
285: 1. Bailey Barnard (Middleburg). 2. Karam Hill (Englewood). 3. Orange Park wrestler. 4. Kenneth Tresvant (Ridgeview). Dark horse: Evan Jefferson (Terry Parker).
My too-short take: I think it’ll be a fun final between these two, although Barnard did get a 2nd-period fall at Clay two weeks ago. Orange Park has a couple of options here.