TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 2 & NW Independents

Team synopsis: I’ve been here before.

Looking at two of the strongest teams in north Florida — probably THE two strongest north Florida teams west of Clay County — and trying to decide how this district was gonna go down. Staring into the abyss and having it stare back at me.

I was sure, last year, the Wakulla graduation class of 2016 was going to, on balance, be just too great a loss to overcome in holding off Florida High. The War Eagles proved it wasn’t, holding on to the top spot in the district race.

This year, the graduation losses between the War Eagles and Seminoles are more similar. Florida High has 12 kids back that saw at least 15 matches, either this year or in the past. Three of them are defending district titles, and all three of those made it to states, one of them earning medals. Wakulla has 12 kids back with 15+ matches, one returning district champ, three state qualifiers.

The edge is razor-thin. But based on who’s back, I have to tab Wakulla for the top spot once again. I expect an extraordinary fight for top honors at district duals in a few weeks.

It was a substantial gap between Suwannee and Godby for third and fourth last year. Those will be the 3-4 teams again this year, and in the same order. Suwannee should get a good number of freshmen, and they’ve got enough to hold third, perhaps make inroads toward getting closer to Florida High. Godby projects to have more kids out than the rest of the district, and that will be enough for fourth.

North Florida Christian, Rickards and Somerset Jefferson County all face the same issue — getting kids to agree to come out. The team that can get the most kids out, I’d guess, would be the one most likely to take fifth — at least as things stand now.

Projected finish: 1. Wakulla. 2. Florida High. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby. 5. North Florida Christian. 6. Rickards. 7. Somerset Jefferson.

I’m listing independent program Maclay with this district, because of its siting in Tallahassee and its school size. This would be an obvious district for Maclay to join once it gets its feet on the ground.

Florida High (Tallahassee)
Coach: Clay Allen, 8th year.
2016-17: 9-4 in duals. 2nd at Seminole Wrestling Classic, 1st at Capital City Classic, 3rd at Ridgeview Rumble, 18th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 1st at Battle on the Border, 1st at 5 Star Invitational, 3rd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 3rd at region, 6th at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, 7th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, T-59th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Brooks Dyer (sophomore, 31-14 at 106, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Tyler Reeve (freshman, 15-14 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Dennis Ganim (sophomore, 13-22 at 120, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Max Metcalf (junior, 33-13 at 126, district champ, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Bryan Metcalf (senior, 32-11 at 132, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Nic Timmons (junior, 11-8 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Chauncy Riggsby (sophomore, 5-13 at 152, did not compete in post-season); Noah Perdue (junior, 12-18 at 152/160, did not compete in post-season); Will Haigler (senior, 42-5 at 182, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Josh Cook (sophomore, 4-19 at 220, 1 match from regions); Logan Stinson (sophomore, 14-27 at 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key addition: DeJay Robinson (senior, 24-20 in 2015-16, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions, did not wrestle last year).
Key losses (graduation): Mike Cerio (113, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Max Harris (138, district champ, region 3rd, 5th at states); Duncan Weaver (152, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Jemel Fanfan (170, district champ, 1 match from states); Cam Brown (195, district champ, region champ, state runnerup).
Program strengths: Massive amount of returners, which should help Seminoles overcome the loss of three district champs and two state medalists. Solid HC presence that has patiently built one of state’s top small-school programs. Strong schedule gets entire team ready for post-season.
Program needs: Entire group will be wrestling in the shadow of tragedy due to Brown’s untimely passing from bone cancer earlier this month. Upper weights, in particular, besides the older Haigler, need to get on the level of the rest of the group.
Matmen’s take: Florida High, even if it doesn’t take districts this year, will still be among the state’s elite teams at season’s end. If Seminoles are as deep as last year’s team was, it might be enough to win district.

Godby (Tallahassee)
Coach: Jacob Fahrenkrug, 1st year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 21st at Capital City Classic, 19th at Southeastern Pools (ALA), 15th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, T-18th at region. 2016 — 5th at district, T-14th at region, T-60th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 13th at region, T-20th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Marquise Cooper (sophomore, 126, did not compete in post-season); Naomy Vega (senior, 132, 1 match from regions); Micaela King (senior, 138, 1 match from regions); Zach Godwin (senior, 145, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Quentavius Smith (senior, 152, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Marcus Jeffery (sophomore, 182/195, did not compete in post-season); JaTyren Walker (junior, 195, district 4th, 1 match from states); Keoni Brown (senior, 195/220, did not compete in post-season); Ryan Kirby (junior, 220, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Joshua Yarborough (sophomore, 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key addition: Madison Melton (sophomore, 132, 1 match from 2A-Region 1, transferred from Chiles).
Key losses (graduation): Jeff Louis-Jean (182, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Devon Neely (285, district runnerup, 1 match from states); James Williams (285, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Upper weights should see some IBT points this year, as Godby recruited a solid amount of first-year talent a year ago. Schedule of a year ago did have variety that got exposure to some solid teams.
Program needs: Most of the Cougars’ expected returners in 2016 didn’t come back out, so keeping returners from last year will be key. Building the program to state-qualifier level — last year was first season in the previous four where there were no wrestlers at states — is the next goal. Need some lower-weight kids this season.
Matmen’s take: If returners do come back, Cougars should have enough to hold fourth in the district, but it was a distant fourth last year. This year, it might be closer to third — but only if all the returners come back and if Godby finds some lowers.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

North Florida Christian (Tallahassee)
Coach: John Wainwright, 4th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. T-10th at Battle of the Border, 18th at Gator Brawl, 36th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, T-11th at region, 32nd at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 21st at region. 2015 — 6th at district, 25th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Harrison Green (8th, 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Landon Kelly (junior, 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Landon Albritton (170, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); David Lunn (195, district 3rd, region runnerup, 4th at states); Jonathan Wainwright (220, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states).
Program strengths: Eagles had two state qualifiers in 2017, so students should be able to see that success is possible. No coaching turnover after HC’s son graduated.
Program needs: Kids in the lineup. With just two kids projected to return, recruiting is key — and coaching staff has to usually wait to get going until after football ends. Graduation losses were particularly heavy. IBT points will be tougher to find this year.
Matmen’s take: After great success last year — a lot of far more-established programs would have loved a 32nd-place states finish — the road back looks much more uphill. All depends upon recruiting efforts this fall.
* — records not listed due to partial missing results

Rickards (Tallahassee)
Coach: Bryan Louissaint, 1st year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. No in-season IBTs entered.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, 31st at region. 2016 — 6th at district, 27th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, T-32nd at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Keian Bahmani (senior, 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Malcolm Newmyer (senior, 195, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Donterius Spencer (182, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: There is some experience back in the program. High degree of athleticism brought to the table, thanks to strong programs bookending the winter in football and track.
Program needs: Schedule dates in December and January are absolutely critical for best chance of post-season success. More numbers out — having two or three kids, as has been the case in both 2015-16 and last year, just isn’t enough.
Matmen’s take: Will the program continue or not? That’s been the biggest question surrounding Rickards the past two years. If it can be sustained, I could see the Raiders getting better, but it has to be sustained and cared for in the school.

Somerset Jefferson County (Monticello)
Coach: Jason Clark, 1st year.
2016-17: 1st year program in 2017-18.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): None.
Key losses (graduation): None.
Program strengths: There’ll be buzz surrounding the program, the first modern program begun in Jefferson County.
Program needs: Kids, mats, schedule dates.
Matmen’s take: I’ll be very curious to see how this start-up process goes. The other two first-year programs have advantages this one does not, due to lack of natural “rivals” very nearby, but I look forward to continuing coverage of their efforts.

Suwannee (Live Oak).
Coach: Logan Register, 2nd year.
2016-17: 13-6 in duals. 5th at Capital City Classic, 2nd at Battle on the Border, 7th at Chase Life Invitational, 25th at Flagler Rotary, 14th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, 5th at region, T-56th at states. 2016 — 3rd at district, 5th at region, T-30th at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 3rd at region, T-15th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Tyler Ogles (junior, 29-10 at 113, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Jaxon Sansouci (sophomore, 21-6 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Chase Clark (senior, 33-16 at 120, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Caleb Key (senior, 3-12 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Terrell Williams (junior, 15-10 at 138, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Julian Borrell (junior, 21-6 at 138, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Brandon Trask (106, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Kenneth Foster (132, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Joey Borrell (145, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Tanner Clark (152, district champ, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Trevor Clements (152/160, did not compete in post-season); Billy Jenkins (160, district champ, 1 match from states); Angel Soto (170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Charles Votava (182, 1 match from regions); Bernardo Perez (220, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Program tradition is among the strongest in north Florida. Having coaching staff back for 2nd year after three different HCs in previous three years was problematic (but all bore the same stamp). Team should show up more in IBTs this year.
Program needs: Suwannee shouldn’t have a hard time recruiting at school, but there’s a lot of experience to replace. Bigs, in particular, need to be found this season.
Matmen’s take: Bulldogs will still be the favorite for third in the district, but if there’s any mis-steps in terms of injury, or if there’s trouble getting bigger kids out, this could be a tougher season than Suwannee has seen in some while.

Wakulla (Crawfordville)
Coach: William Pafford, 7th year.
2016-17: 23-1 in duals. 6th at Border Wars, 4th at Capital City Classic, 1st at Trojan Invitational, 6th at Flagler Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 8th at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 3rd at region, 13th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 1st at region, 12th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Matthew Owen (sophomore, 41-14 at 106, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Rolin Malik (senior, 33-14 at 120, district champ, 1 match from states); Blake Reeves (sophomore, 15-8 at 132, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Micah Lanier (senior, 35-12 at 138, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Noah Wilson (sophomore, 27-8 at 145, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Ian Walker (sophomore, 16-20 at 152, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Trevor Hart (sophomore, 18-15 at 170, district runnerup, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Tyler Cordle (senior, 4-16 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Eli Yates (senior, 7-9 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Andrew Annand (junior, 14-9 at 182, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); John-Trevor Hinsey (sophomore, 28-18 at 195, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Darius Wilkins (junior, 23-4 at 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Larry Smith (113, district champ, region champ, 5th at states); Max Owen (126, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Noah Breeden (160, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Marlon Ng (220, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Jacob Marin (285, district champ, region champ, state champion).
Program strengths: Winning tradition builds success upon success. Consistent talent up and down the lineup, with just a little bit of drop-off at (at most) one or two weights. Three state qualifiers, with two more just one match away, and an off-season all-American enters the lineup full-time.
Program needs: I said this last year, but the 2017 graduating class takes a substantial number of wins along with it. Finding vocal leaders on the mat is going to be key.
Matmen’s take: The consistency up and down the lineup that Wakulla has coming back is what, I think, will separate it this year, as War Eagle returners that took seconds last year will use the gaps left by 2017 graduated kids to move up the ladder.

Independent: Maclay (Tallahassee)
Coach: Sonny Momen, 1st year.
2016-17: 1st year program in 2017-18.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): None.
Key losses (graduation): None.
Program strengths: As is the case with Somerset, there will be buzz about what would be Tally’s newest program.
Program needs: Kids, mats, schedule dates.
Matmen’s take: Maclay might be better-positioned than Somerset because it’s got several options both in this district and in 2A-District 2 to set up wrestling opportunities, without having to leave town.

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I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in both 1992 and again in 2011. But I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. We combined those sites into North Florida Matmen in the summer of 2018. And, we've started South Georgia Matmen in November of 2018. Our work is never paywalled, our content is searchable for all time. We're here because the kids keep lacing 'em up, so we'll keep writing 'em up.

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