TurkeyNWrestling2018-19: 2A-District 2

Team synopsis: 2A-District 2 has been Trojan property for the past eight seasons.

But whether Lincoln can make it nine straight titles might be a closer question than ever before during this run, because Columbia might be as deep a team as it’s ever been in recent memory.

The Trojans do return three state qualifiers back for their senior seasons, plus a couple of other 12th graders that had deep tournament runs of their own, and having a bit more senior leadership is the one apparent intangible difference between Lincoln and the challenging Tigers.

One asset in Lincoln’s favor is a bit more experience in the lower bookend. With returning starters that manned the first four weights (or could do so), that could be a contributing factor. The returning strength that the Trojan upper weights have is substantial, although there might have to be a replacement or two that is brought to bear.

Ultimately, one asset that remains so until it’s taken is simply having been there before. That the Trojans have known nothing but winning in the district since 2011 is a marked advantage.

But Columbia looks very solid as the season begins, with great numbers and returners (15 that either started or wrestled 15 matches during the course of the season). There were times that the Tigers truly could go two-deep at several weights last year, and did in a couple of events.

Columbia’s middles are a match for Lincoln’s — even with the graduation of college-bound state medalists Chace Curtis and Daniel Mann, and the Tigers have several bigs returning. If their bigs can match up just as evenly with Lincoln’s, this district could be explosive by season’s end.

Gainesville established itself as the clear middle of the pack this past year; while the Hurricanes had two or three solid bigs throughout the year, including an eventual state qualifier, what really solidified Gainesville’s lineup last year was a couple more in the middles/uppers. if the Hurricanes can continue to improve, and find some lowers, they might be poised to take another step.

Chiles lost a lot of seniors from its 2016-17 team, and had to bring in a lot of first-year kids that took lumps, but a lot of them may be back for this year. The Timberwolves have almost as many returners back as their more-heralded rivals across town, Lincoln.

Leon has decent talent where they have kids in the lineup, but that’s just the rub: the Lions had too many holes in their lineup to be competitive as a team. Don’t be surprised, though, if Leon returns to Kissimmee this year after a year away.

Projected finish: 1. Lincoln. 2. Columbia. 3. Gainesville. 4. Chiles. 5. Leon.

Chiles (Tallahassee)
Coach: James Marschka, 14th year.
2017-18: 5-12 in duals. 22nd at Capital City Classic, 16th at Trojan Invitational, 13th at Gator Brawl, 11th at Wakulla IBT.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2018 — Duals: 4th at district; Traditional: 4th at district, 25th at region. 2017 (traditional only) — 2nd at district, 10th at region, T-52nd at states. 2016 (traditional only) — 3rd at district, 15th at region, T-34th at states.
Projected key returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2017-18 weights): Cole Thomas (sophomore, 3-10 at 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Ethan Dhanarajan (junior, 2-4 at 106, district 4th, injured for regions); Alex Adkins (sophomore, 7-26 at 120, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Chase O’Brian (sophomore, 10-23 at 126, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Will Wiggins (sophomore, 11-26 at 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Michael Miralles (senior, 10-9 at 138, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Kevonte Times (junior, 13-15 at 145, district 3rd, did not compete at regions); Bryce Hudson (junior, 6-13 at 152, did not compete in post-season); Robert McGill (sophomore, 22-17 at 160, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Gage Bunton (senior, 8-21 at 170, 1 match from regions); Austin Wheeler (junior, 8-20 at 195, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Elijah Borden (sophomore, 7-16 at 220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Sam Neely (senior, 16-13 at 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Austin Nolan (152, district champ, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: Program had to hit the recruiting trail, and it did so as best it could, with 13 kids (12 of them post-season starters) eligible to return this year. Coaching stability is certainly a plus. Despite youth and inexperience, Timberwolves wrestled tough schedule last year.
Program needs: While young kids came out in droves and wrestled against tough competition, they also need some wins, too, and those were a lot fewer last year. Off-season work needed to be more of a priority.
Matmen’s take: I’m not sure that this young Chiles group can get back into the third-place spot this year, but they should get much closer to it, thanks to another year of maturity. If Timberwolves commit to wrestling year-round, that becomes much more a real possibility.

Columbia (Lake City)
Coach: Peter Whittington, 3rd year.
2017-18: 24-6 in duals. 9th at Keystone Invitational, 8th at Capital City Classic, 2nd at Bily Saylor Invitational, 5th at Trojan Invitational, 10th at Green Cove Springs Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2018 — Duals: 2nd at district, region quarterfinalist; Traditional: 2nd at district, 5th at region, T-18th at states. 2017 (traditional only) — 3rd at district, 12th at region, T-75th at states. 2016 (traditional only) — 4th at district, 12th at region, T-14th at states.
Projected key returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2017-18 weights): Brett Millard (sophomore, 24-26 at 106, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Ian McGuigan (junior, 35-14 at 120, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Connor Mote (sophomore, 12-4 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Alex McGuigan (junior, 16-8 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Matthew Arango (senior, 19-12 at 138, did not compete in post-season); Matt Ross (senior, 30-11 at 138, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Kaleb Davis (sophomore, 138/145, did not compete in post-season); Obie Smith (sophomore, 20-19 at 152, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Preston O’Quinn (junior, 21-29 at 160, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); David Thompson (junior, 41-20 at 170, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Zhaquez Griffin (junior, 20-28 at 195, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Kouvaris Combs (senior, 22-29 at 220, 1 match from regions); Connor Davidson (junior, 12-13 at 220/285, did not compete in post-season); Noah Stubblefield (junior, 9-14 at 285, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Key addition: Chad Sapp (senior, 25-21 at 170 in 2016-17, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions, out with injury last year).
Key losses (graduation or as noted): Chace Curtis (126, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Daniel Mann (132, district champ, region champ, state 4th); Matt Raulerson (145, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Jonathen Sobczak (sophomore, 145/152, did not compete in post-season, did not return to team); Zion James (182, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states).
Program strengths: Depth hasn’t been a problem for a couple of seasons now, and won’t be again this year. Middles, in particular, should be particularly strong. Schedule is always challenging and competitive, and pays off in late February and early March. Off-season work has continued at a good clip.
Program needs: Ross will step into the role Curtis and Mann jointly held last season, but leadership on the mats will be needed from at least one other source (lots of possibilities; Sapp will be one). Bookend groups need to match the pace of the middle, although they’re more experienced than last year.
Matmen’s take: It’s not often that a team that has to replace two state medalists might be even better the following year. Time may tell on that. This team still might be a year away yet from winning the district, with all of the juniors it has one it, but it’s not training for 2020; it’s training for February and March.

Gainesville
Coach: Patrickk McDonald, 4th year.
2017-18: 17-22 in duals. 15th at Keystone Invitational, 12th at Trojan Invitational, T-73rd at Girls’ State.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2018 — Duals: 3rd at district; Traditional: 3rd at district, 18th at region, T-69th at states. 2017 (traditional only) — 4th at district, 22nd at region. 2016 (traditional only) — 5th at district, 17th at region, 17th at states.
Projected key returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2017-18 weights): Davontis Clements (sophomore, 126, did not compete in post-season); Nicholas Hanson (junior, 132, district third, 0-2 at regions); Logan Fernandez-Smith (junior, 138, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Josh Cohn (junior, 145, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Rayshawn Kitchen (sophomore, 2-7 at 152, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Bronson Carter (senior, 22-21 at 160, district runnerup, did not compete at regions); Thomas Lancer (junior, 3-10 at 170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jerome Hamilton (sophomore, 13-17 at 182, did not compete in post-season); Joshua Riddle (senior, 16-10 at 220/285, did not compete in post-season); Roosevelt Sheppard (sophomore, 220, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Nathan Fox (113, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Dishant Rami (126, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Pierre Toney (182, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Corey Ryan (195, district champ, 1 match short of states); Alex Anzivino (220, did not compete in post-season); Donnie Wilburn (285, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Another sizable group of returners comes back for the 2018-19 season, which will help promote continuity. We started seeing Hurricane wrestlers competing in off-season events, which is a massive and necessary upgrade to the Gainesville program. Middles have taken lumps; this year, they’re going to be expected to lead.
Program needs: A lot of experience, with some talent in it, graduated in May, and will have to be replaced this year. The lower-weight bookend could be an area of concern, as there are no returners lighter than 126.
Matmen’s take: Gainesville surged into a solid third-place standing in the district because the Hurricanes got kids in the lineup, kept them there, and improved their schedule. They should hold that spot this year, but can they become a region-wide player? That’s the next goal to move toward.

Leon (Tallahassee)
Coach: Charles Ringel, 16th year.
2017-18: 0-9 in duals. 6th at Cam Brown Seminole Classic, 17th at Capital City Classic, 13th at Trojan Invitational, 16th at Wakulla IBT.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2018 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: 5th at district, 22nd at region. 2017 (traditional only) — 5th at district, 15th at region, T-13th at states. 2016 (traditional only) — 2nd at district, 7th at region, T-8th at states.
Projected key returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2017-18 weights): Lukas McKinney (sophomore, 3-10 at 106, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Alexander Crago (sophomore, 5-9 at 113, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Ethan Eudy (junior, 5-9 at 152, 1 match from regions); Jaquenez Madison (senior, 17-9 at 160, district champ, 1 match from states); Lee Klein (senior, 9-6 at 285, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation or as noted): Tony Davis (senior, 170, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions; transferred to Lincoln); Mason Judd (182, district 3rd, 1 match from states).
Program strengths: The talent that’s back is solid; certainly a building block on which to build. Returning upperclassmen have multiple years of starting experience. Stability of coaching staff should continue to be a plus for the Lions.
Program needs: Numbers went down dramatically for the Lions; more and better recruiting will need to take place to fix that. Off-season work continues to need to be a priority.
Matmen’s take: After each of the past three years being at Kissimmee for states, the Lions did not get there last year. It might take another year, but the goal right now ought to focus on building numbers and returners. Then, re-focus on getting a major presence back in The Show.

Lincoln (Tallahassee)
Coach: Mike Crowder, 24th year.
2017-18: 13-2 in duals. 1st at Cam Brown Seminole Classic, 11th at Capital City Classic, T-25th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 4th at Trojan Invitational, 7th at Tony Ippolito Memorial.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2018 — Duals: 1st at district, region finalist; Traditional: 1st at district, 2nd at region, 26th at states. 2017 (traditional only) — 1st at district, 1st at region, 11th at states. 2016 (traditional only) — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 12th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 1st at region, T-40th at states.
Projected key returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Eli Hendley (sophomore, 12-7 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Adam Barnes (junior, 15-16 at 106, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Mark Munroe (senior, 23-12 at 113, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Ikeon Myles (senior, 24-17 at 126, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Jace White (junior, 13-13 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Hayden Buzick (junior, 16-12 at 132, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Luke Geiger (junior, 8-8 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Elliott Crum (senior, 38-11 at 145, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Reed Watterson (junior, 17-18 at 152, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Andrew Collins (junior, 13-8 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Selah Craft (senior, 20-11 at 195, did not compete in post-season); Jonquille Rivers (senior, 25-17 at 285, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Key additions: Caleb Bushong (senior, transferred from Wisconsin); Tony Davis (senior, 15-13 at 170, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions; transferred from Leon).
Key losses (graduation): Michael Crowder (120, district champ, did not compete at regions); Anderson Stennett (138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Justin Grant (170, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Jared Newhall (182, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Gus Altenburg (195, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Reggie Toombs (220, district champ, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: No other team in the district has three returning state qualifiers, so that’s a head-start for the Trojans. Experience with winning under a Hall of Fame coach is an asset that can’t be overlooked. Lower weights up through 160/170 should be a strength. Off-season competition is about as extensive as it gets in north-central Florida.
Program needs: Even with three state qualifiers and a lot of depth returning, Trojans lose three state qualifiers — including multiple-time medalist Grant — and it will be difficult to replace those points. Team needs some athletic bigs to come in and replace last year’s graduates.
Matmen’s take: The champ is the champ until someone comes and takes it. Trojans have a lot of solid kids back, enough to perhaps get that ninth straight district win. They’ve won this district after losing three state qualifiers the previous year, and could do it again. If it happens, though, it will be because the second tier of Lincoln kids made enough push to get better this spring, summer and preseason.

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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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