Sometimes as we’re looking toward the future of a new season, it’s helpful to look back at the past.
We did that for a couple of months in the spring with our “The Season” recaps. No one in Florida recaps every team within their given coverage area, and we even learned a couple of additional lessons along the way there.
But one thing that often informs any preview of an upcoming season — even one as crazy as this one promises to be, between the impact of the FHSAA state duals series and the impact of “open” enrollment — is the tradition of what has gone before.
Area bragging rights are one such thing.
With that said, who — or better yet, which district — won 1A-Region 3? (our fourth of eight non-local posts, and I decided I would keep the same format as for the ones closer to me).
There are a few ways to figure this out. I’ve tried a couple in the past. This year, I’m going to try to keep it simpler. Maybe. I’ve been told I over-complicate things at times, most often by myself.
1. Points scored at the region (staged in Bradenton). In a solid battle for the top, having host school Southeast, the team champion, was a substantial lift for District 11, which outpointed District 12, 506-451, for first place in the region. The 11s’ point total was the third-highest in Class 1A, behind only 1A-7 and 1A-15 (which we highlighted on Wednesday). Although District 9’s two strongest teams outperformed District 10’s, the 10s’ overall balance (six teams with 40+ points) was enough for a 337.5-300 cushion for third place over the 9s.
2. Region champions. Again, the 11s held the advantage using this indicator, if not even more so. District 11 picked up half of the brackets from this tournament (120/132/138/145/160/182/220). However, it was District 10, this time, that finished second, with four champs (106/113/152/220). District 12 had two champions (126/285), while District 9 picked off the title at 195.
3. State qualifiers. The 11s’ strength in the first two categories might have suggested they weren’t going to share top honors. But they did, as both District 11 (three runners-up, four 3rds and four 4ths) and District 12 (four runners-up, six 3rds and six 4ths) each had 18 state qualifiers to tie for first. District 10 had a slight advantage over District 9, with 11 qualifiers (two runners-up, three 3rds and two 4ths) to the 9s’ nine (five runners-up, one 3rd and two 4ths).
4. Wins earned at the region. I checked each kid’s region performance. Wins were based upon contested matches (brackets that gave kids byes meant those kids did not receive wins, but brackets that listed forfeits, where the forfeiting wrestler was still on the bracket, did get a +1 for those). Kids that did not compete for whatever the reason but qualified out and were listed on the bracket were given 0-2 records. Here, District 11 did hold off District 12, but just barely in terms of total wins, 110-109. The 11s did have a substantially better win percentage, going 110-87 to the 12s’ 109-98. District 10 finished at 80-83, while District 9 was 66-98.
In a competition between areas, the evidence almost universally suggested that District 11 “won” the region, but certainly in equaling 11’s number of state qualifiers and almost equaling the number of wins, District 12 was in the hunt. Here’s a couple of notes on each district:
Best weight class: Region 3 was a tough weekend for most of the District 9 wrestlers, but one weight where the group shone, as a whole, was 195, where the 9s were 10-5. District 9 wrestlers went 1-2 there, with Lake Wales’ Lucny Jean as champion and Victory Christian’s Stetson Smith as the runnerup, plus a blood-round appearance for Lake Placid’s Tyler Steedley.
Toughest struggle: Twelve of the 14 weight classes had less than a .500 record, but the 145s couldn’t find a win in their eight matches on Friday.
Best weight class: I would go with 170 as District 10’s strongest weight, where the trio of wrestlers that qualified for regions went 7-4 as a group. Of those three, two got out for states, including champion Jacob Safee of Berkeley Prep and fourth-place finisher Amneous Chambers of Spoto.
Toughest struggle: At two different classes, the 10s were 4-8 as a group, but one of them had a wrestler with a chance for state, so I’ll go for the other one — 182 — where the 10s had one Saturday qualifier on the weekend.
Best weight class: There were two weight classes where the 11s were 10-5 — from a win-percentage standpoint, the district’s best of the weekend — but one saw three qualifiers get out to states. That was 160, led by champion Jake Ross of St. Stephen’, runnerup Mitchell Kerr of Northside Christian and fourth-place finisher Jonathan Locke of Southeast.
Toughest struggle: It’s a testament to the strength of the 11s as a whole that their weakest weight resulted only in a 6-8 overall record, at 285, but even here they had two wrestlers get to Saturday, with Southeast’s Chevaughn Rose qualifying out by taking fourth.
Best weight class: There are a couple of possibilities for the 12s where they had a pair of qualifiers, but I will go with 126, where District 12 had a 9-5 overall record and were led by region champ Gabriel Ramirez of Immokalee and runnerup Brad Fuson of Lemon Bay, plus an additional Saturday qualifier as well.
Toughest struggle: As a group, the toughest weight class for the 12s might have been 195, where the group as a whole went 4-8, with one Saturday qualifier — Lely’s Kevin Chery, who finished fourth and had three of those four wins.
It’s tough for any kid to lose a match in the blood round, but the seniors who fell in the blood round deserve a special bit of kudos — particularly since many of them are now off doing other things (college, work, military, and the like). So this space will give props to them, in order of ascending weight class:
Kyle Garoutte (Imagine, 120)
Andrew Hoffman (Berkeley Prep, 132)
Dominic Luna (Fivay, 145)
Haowen Li (Admiral Farragut, 152)
Joshua Berenson (Lake Placid, 160)
Tanner Oxer (Lake Placid, 170)
Johnny White (Southeast, 195)
Samuel Hawthorne (Lake Placid, 285)