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 after the season concludes.
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 region won 3A states?
It wasn’t quite Lake Highland in terms of points, but no other team scored like South Dade did — in any class — so my initial instinct was to think that Region 4 would be the favorite coming into this review, but I was surprised with the findings in both 1A and 2A, so perhaps 3A would also throw me a curveball.
A quick reminder that I’m not looking to see which team won states. They settle that on the mats at Kissimmee (and you can look at my 2017 state brackets if you need a refresher on that one). I’m looking to see which area “won” states, and that requires a look at each set of kids, 1 through 4, that each area brings to states.
There are a few ways to figure this out. Here’s a few different indicators:
1. Points scored at state. Having South Dade at the top of the team standings gave Region 4 a strong push immediately, but a top-four finish from Southwest Miami, and some solid depth (five additional teams with 20+ points) were all enough for the 4s to take first place here, with 547 points. Region 1 got two top-5 team efforts from Fleming Island (2nd) and Winter Springs (5th), plus six additional teams with 20+ points. That combination was more than enough to outdistance Region 2 for second place, 477-353. Region 3 had a good chunk of points from third-place St. Thomas, but only two more teams from the region scored more than 11, and the 3s finished with 250.
2. State champions. This was probably the most one-sided measurement indicator where Region 4 had a clear advantage against the rest of the group, as the 4s won seven titles in all (106/113/132/145/170/220/285). Led by St. Thomas, Region 3 shone most brightly in this stat, with three champions, second-most of the four regions (138/152/195). Region 1 and Region 2 both had two champions, with the 1s taking brackets at 126 and 182 and the 2s winning at 120 and 160.
3. State medalists. This was significantly closer than the champions race was, although Region 4 continued to hold an advantage here as well, holding off Region 1 for most medalists, with 27 in all (three runners-up, five 3rds, five 4ths, four 5ths and three 6ths). The 1s, for their part, countered with 25 state medalists (four runners-up, eight 3rds, four 4ths, three 5ths and four 6ths). Region 2 held a solid third, with 20 medals earned (five runners-up, one 3rd, three 4ths, four 5ths and five 6ths), while Region 3 picked up 12 medals (two runners-up, two 4ths, three 5ths and two 6ths).
4. Wins earned at states. I checked each kid’s state performance. Based upon that, Region 4 held it down here, as well, but it got close toward the end. The 4s had seven weight classes with double-digit wins, finishing with 127 in all, plus a win percentage of .577. They were balanced as well, with 62 wins for the lowers, 65 for the uppers. That wasn’t quite the case for second-place Region 1, which made a push in the uppers to push past Region 2. The 1s finished at 122-100, .550 win percentage, while the 2s fell below .500 after all five weights between 170 on up were below that standard. Region 2 finished at 96-107, while Region 3 was fourth at 61-106.
Under every indicator that I’ve been using (I do have to concede that Region 2 had the most teams score points in the tournament), Region 4 conclusively “won” 2A states. Here’s a couple of notes on each region:
Best weight class: The weight where the 1s shone the brighest was at 182, where they were 13-5 as a group, with all four wrestlers contributing. Leading the charge was champion Jason Davis (Fleming Island), with Logan Celella (Apopka) having a solid showing by taking five at the back, after dropping his opening-round match, to finish third, while Jason DeGroat (Winter Springs) added a fourth.
Toughest struggle: There weren’t many major stumbles for the 1s, but one where they got close was at 113, where the group had one Saturday qualifier and went 4-8 as a group.
Best weight class: There is no statistical way to choose between 120 and 160. Both groups were 10-5. Both swept the top two medal finishes, with Malyke Hines (Osceola, 120) and Charles Small (Manatee, 160) winning brackets and Marshall Craig (Manatee, 120) and Ethan DeLong (Osceola, 160) finishing second. Both had an additional Saturday qualifier. Both had all four wrestlers win at least once. Just no way to really pick.
Toughest struggle: There were two weights where the 2s were 3-8, but this at least offered a path where there was none at the top end: at 285, no one in the region got past Friday’s wrestling.
Best weight class: It was a long weekend for the 3s as a whole, with just one weight above .500. That was at 138, where the group was 8-7 on the weekend, led by champion Grant Aronoff (St. Thomas) and sixth-place Ty Warner (Martin County), who combined for seven of those wins.
Toughest struggle: The 145 quartet couldn’t get past the first day of competition, with just one win among them in a 1-8 Friday.
Best weight class: Tough call between 113 and 285, where both groups were 13-5, and also tough to look past 220 (12-4, swept top 3 spots on podium), but I’ll take 285, since all four wrestlers won at least once and there were three medals won, led by champion Kyron Taylor (South Dade), third-place Jaafari Stephens (Coral Gables) and fourth-place Trayvonne Jackson (Killian).
Toughest struggle: There were not many mishaps on the weekend, but the 4s at 195 had a tough time, going 4-8 as a group with just one Saturday qualifier.
It’s tough for any kid to lose a match in the blood round, but the seniors who fell in the blood round — in this case, one match short of the podium — deserve a special bit of kudos, particularly since many of them are now off doing other things (college, work, military, and the like). Most, though surely not all, had their first appearance at states in their last opportunity to get there. So this space will give props to them, in order of ascending weight class:
Michael Ortega (Cypress Creek, 113)
Jonathan Brabazon (Plant, 120)
Marcus Jean Baptiste (Orlando Freedom, 126)
Brenden Maharaj (Orlando Freedom, 132)
Zack Buchanan (Sarasota Riverview, 132)
Jordan Goldman (Lake Mary, 138)
Joel Ramirez (South Dade, 138)
Liam Jones (Cooper City, 145)
Eric Reid (Wellington, 152)
Connor Jones (Cooper City, 152)
Christian Lemaster (George Jenkins, 170)
Jorge Benitez (Southwest Miami, 182)
Marshal Sweet (Killian, 195)
Kurk Jackson (Atlantic Coast, 220)
TJ Boyd (Winter Springs, 285)
Christian Gomez (Hagerty, 285)