TurkeyNWrestling: 1A-District 4

Team synopsis: The race for district dominance in 1A-District 4 is, at least for one more year, not the one most up in the air.

As it has for the previous four seasons, Bishop Kenny is more than well-poised to bring home a district championship in February, which would make the Crusaders’ run pushed out to five titles.

Kenny has the most returners back in the district, the deepest lineup in the district and boast the top 2017 states finish — something the Crusaders have struggled to accomplish in prior years — in the district. That should be pretty well-settled.

No, what the most interesting race should be will be the race for second place, where Bolles — which has held on to that spot with varying degrees of comfort over the past four seasons — might get more of a test from Pedro Menendez and Wolfson this year.

It’s still the Bulldogs’ spot to lose, with just one graduating starter from last year’s team gone and, I suspect, a couple of kids who’ll be first-year surprises.

However, if all of Pedro Menendez’s mid-season starters return and finish the full season, the Falcons will have something to say about that. Likewise, Wolfson — which has been the most-improved team in the district, and which also only lost one full-season starter to graduation — should have a lot more experience to bring to the table.

Bradford, which emerged as last year’s third-place team, might take a step backwards as they recover from a solid group of seniors graduating in May. Episcopal and FSDB — the Eagles in particular — have a couple of kids that should be strong individually, but the number of missing weights in the lineup make contending for team honors difficult.

I’ve heard from a couple of different sources, who are in position to know, that University Christian has dropped its program. That is extremely unfortunate, given the near-past history the Christians enjoyed as one of the area’s stronger Class 1A powers.

Projected finish: 1. Bishop Kenny. 2. Bolles. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Wolfson. 5. Bradford. 6. Episcopal. 7. FSDB.

Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville)
Coach: Paul Schloth, 9th year.
2016-17: 16-4 in duals. 9th at Capital City Classic, 7th at Battle on the Border, 17th at Flagler Rotary, 7th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 7th at region, T-17th at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 8th at region, T-60th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 6th at region, T-45th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Reilly Gentges (junior, 15-15 at 113, 1 match from regions); Syrus Bakkar (sophomore, 10-14 at 113, did not compete in post-season); Jack Delaney (senior, 45-11 at 120, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Garrett Tirado (senior, 30-15 at 126, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Jack Donghit (junior, 21-9 at 132, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Andrew Slade (junior, 35-11 at 138, district champ, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Ryan Bell (junior, 9-8 at 138, did not compete in post-season); Joey Cusick (junior, 29-13 at 145, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Nick Beenen (senior, 32-16 at 170, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Jimmy Citrano (senior, 8-11 at 182, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); John Alexander (senior, 28-14 at 220, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Josiah McCallum (senior, 46-7 at 285, district champ, region 3rd, state runnerup).
Key losses (graduation): Sid Madison (152, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Jacob Schloth (160, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Addison Glisson (195, district champ, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Substantial amount of returning experience at almost every weight class. Coaching staff has worked to improve off-season mat time. Crusaders are coming off best showing at state tournament in at least the last four years.
Program needs: Other than Tallahassee in week 2, all events on schedule are nearby, and more travel might help see more out-of-area competition.
Matmen’s take: Crusaders most likely in position to add to string of district titles; this year could be the year that Bishop Kenny adds a top-five region finish to go with it. Team could be quite competitive at the region level for duals; that’s been a strength.

Bolles (Jacksonville)
Coach: Matt Morris, 30th year.
2016-17: 4-6 in duals. 16th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 5th at Rob Bierbaum Invitational, 23rd at Flagler Rotary, T-26th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, T-9th at region. 2016 — 2nd at district, 7th at region, T-51st at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 8th at region, T-32nd at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Josh Bono (sophomore, 17-12 at 106, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Dalton Posick (sophomore, 16-15 at 113, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Chase Commander (sophomore, 4-7 at 120, 1 match from regions); Julian Morris (sophomore, 7-9 at 126, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Hunter Dixon (sophomore, 3-13 at 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); KJ Fagan (junior, 14-7 at 145, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Derrick Champine (sophomore, 1-7 at 152, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); CJ Grimes (junior, 13-11 at 170, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); James Omlor (senior, 3-6 at 182, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Mason Yost (senior, 13-11 at 220, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Orlando Heggs (senior, 2-4 at 285, district 4th, did not compete at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Caleb Calhoun (160, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Bulldogs lose only one starter to graduation this year, retaining all of its lower-weight starters. Team has habitually closed fast, when teams want to be at their peak. Experienced coaching staff gets injection of new blood in assistant ranks this year.
Program needs: Bulldogs need more matches to stay competitive with other top-10 teams in region. 2016-17 was the first year in the last five, at least, with no state appearances.
Matmen’s take: The lineup is there to return to a runnerup finish, the tradition is there, and the team’s ability to turn things on from mid-January forward should be there, too. A couple of kids that were hurt in 2016-17 might be back, which would help also.

Bradford (Starke)
Coach: Devin Paulk, 2nd year.
2016-17: 14-13 in duals. T-16th at Battle on the Border, 28th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, T-23rd at region, T-72nd at states. 2016 — 6th at district, 22nd at region. 2015 — 10th at district, 30th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Brian Foster (sophomore, 14-8 at 120, district 3rd, did not compete at regions); Thomas LeVasseur (junior, 120, did not compete in post-season); Aaron Blazs (sophomore, 9-18 at 126, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Logan Montemurro (senior, 21-10 at 160, 1 match from regions); Jesse Burch (senior, 16-7 at 170, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Jacob Hake (senior, 170/182. did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Andrew Hetler (145, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Trevor Jones (152, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Eddie McCormick (220, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Tornadoes have made rapid growth from what had been low point three years ago, going from 10th to third in district. Seniors at higher end of middleweights will be a strength. Having second year under same coaching staff promotes continuity.
Program needs: Bradford does need to enter another larger IBT to help make itself more competitive in post-season. Filling bookend weights is going to be critical, as those could be points of inexperience this season.
Matmen’s take: Tornadoes surprised last year with their third-place district finish, but a lot of that was fueled by 2017 seniors. It would be tough for Bradford to duplicate that finish in February this year, but they might make a top-half run.

Episcopal (Jacksonville)
Coach: Kip Collins, 1st year.
2016-17: 1-14 in duals. 10th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 15th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 8th at Rob Bierbaum Invitational, 29th at Flagler Rotary, 25th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, T-9th at region, T-25th at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 9th at region, T-11th at states. 2015 — 6th at district, 20th at region, T-70th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Kyle Hopkins (sophomore, 25-7 at 113, district champ, region runnerup, 3rd at states); Reid Hampton (sophomore, 18-16 at 126, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Robert Jackson (sophomore, 3-9 at 138, 1 match from regions); Nial Murphy (sophomore, 0-6 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Freddy Dollison (junior, 20-16 at 220, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Christian Rickey (170, district 4th, region 3rd, 1-2 at states).
Program strengths: Most of last year’s starters are back, and they’ll all have eligibility to be back in 2018-19 as well. Eagles have traditionally wrestled a solid schedule. Trio of most-experienced kids are well-coached and have gotten off-season work done.
Program needs: More kids at more weights (especially uppers); at most events last year, Eagles were a four-man team (but half of that team made it to states).
Matmen’s take: Still quite a bit of talent back, but focus does need to be on building toward a complete team first and then developing that talent toward competitiveness.

Florida School for the Deaf & Blind (St. Augustine)
Coach: Travis Homewood, 4th year.
2016-17: 7-18 in duals. 9th at Arlington Optimist Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 8th at district, 30th at region. 2016 — 8th at district. 2015 — 4th at district, 19th at region, T-66th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Reynaldo Suero-Perez (sophomore, 20-7 at 113, 1 match from regions); Ty Snow (freshman, 12-18 at 120, 1 match from regions); Giovanni Viruet (7th grade, 12-14 at 126, 1 match from regions); Liam Von Mahr (senior, 11-18 at 160, 1 match from regions); Jose Chavez (senior, 7-10 at 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Anthony Hoyt (senior, 14-16 at 182, district champ, 2-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): None.
Program strengths: Dragons will have entire lineup back from last year’s team. with four returners possessing multiple years’ experience. Last year’s extreme youth will all be a year older as well. Group should have best shot at a state appearance since 2014-15 season.
Program needs: As has been the case the past couple of seasons, filling all weights is the biggest challenge. FSDB could use another IBT or two as well to push stronger kids.
Matmen’s take: The group as a whole could challenge for a top-half spot, particularly with a recruiting effort like last year’s, but should certainly move up this year.

Pedro Menendez (St. Augustine)
Coach: Kevin Leonard, 2nd year.
2016-17: 7-20 in duals. 13th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 7th at Rob Bierbaum Invitational, 32nd at Flagler Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, 15th at region, T-56th at states. 2016 — 3rd at district, 13th at region. 2015 — 3rd at district, 10th at region, T-55th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Robert Iglesias (junior, 18-12 at 120, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Collin Tanner (senior, 17-17 at 138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); David Soule (senior, 19-17 at 152/160, did not compete in post-season); Alex Cathcart (senior, 9-17 at 170, 1 match from regions); Austyn Holsomback (junior, 14-10 at 195, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Max Worthington (160, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states).
Program strengths: Schedule is strong enough to get solid kids ready for a post-season run. Menendez returned to state tournament after a year’s absence; that return after a down year is always important. Losing only one starter to graduation will be an asset.
Program needs: Falcons need to keep regular-season starters in lineup through post-season; this hurt their district showing last year. Could use an influx of lower-weight wrestlers.
Matmen’s take: Menendez has enough of a group back that they can challenge for second in the district, but a lot of their middles didn’t wrestle the post-season. Return is crucial for Falcon chances.

Wolfson (Jacksonville)
Coach: Scott Marabell, 5th year.
2016-17: 17-7 in duals. 6th at Gateway Conference.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, T-27th at region. 2016 — 7th at district, 29th at region. 2015 — 5th at district, 11th at region, T-32nd at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Aries Fahnbulleh (junior, 20-10 at 113, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Keayon Gray (junior, 15-13 at 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Hector Rosado (junior, 13-11 at 120, did not compete in post-season); Gavin Carter (junior, 12-16 at 132, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Cameron Frison (sophomore, 11-9 at 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Bryan Ward (senior, 5-10 at 160/170, did not compete in post-season); Clyde Holland (sophomore, 8-9 at 170, 1 match from regions); Steven Ho (junior, 18-10 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season); Keethan Seay (senior, 24-10 at 220, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Ronald Brunson (senior, 24-4 at 285, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Sai Hassalla (138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Ernest Ross (152/160, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Only one full-season starter left due to graduation, so experience level will be that much greater this year. Schedule continues to evolve in right direction. Upper weights should, once again, be a strength and possible spot where program returns to states.
Program needs: More travel and IBTs are needed in the schedule (to be fair, travel dates have increased over the past couple of seasons). Off-season work needs to be more of a priority if Wolfpack are ever going to challenge for higher team finish in district.
Matmen’s take: I could easily see Wolfson taking even another step up the district ladder, particularly if work continues to improve Wolfpack schedule. Could be a top-three threat at Gateway Conference as well.
* — most records not included due to missing results

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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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