TurkeyNWrestling: 2A-District 4

Team synopsis: The prognosticators (that would be this space) were ready to anoint a new favorite to finish on top of the 2A-District 4 heap in 2017.

Thing was, Creekside was not interested in being awarded the second fiddle for the third straight year, after battling against a monster 2016 senior class at Matanzas that ruled the scene in 2015 and 2016. The Knights spotted Bartram Trail a mid-season defeat in a dual setting, but when the chips were down in February, it was Creekside that returned to the champions list after tying Matanzas for that title in 2014.

I think the Knights will have the edge this coming year, with 13 starters back, a year’s more experience and a title to defend. They’ve got the district’s and county’s best wrestler in senior Brandon Dickman, who should be tipped to win an individual state championship after medal efforts in 2016 and 2017, plus an additional returning qualifier and three more who were right on the doorstep in late February.

Bartram Trail has closed the gap with substantial speed against the Knights, and it might have only been the we’ve-been-there-before mental variable that gave Creekside the edge last year. Like the Knights, the Bears have a big group of returners back: 12 starters, two of those state qualifiers and two more just a match away from qualifying. It’s just a short hop between coming close and overcoming. It will be interesting to see how it plays out between CHS and BTHS.

Nease is the truly interesting wild-card in this district. More than a couple of insiders are telling me to look out for the St Johns Panthers, who did more off-season work than anyone else in the district. In addition to a group of returners that built the district’s best finish at regions last year (fourth place), they’ve got a couple of key additions that will make immediate impacts in this district, if not 2A as a whole. That season-opening Wednesday night dual in Ponte Vedra Beach against Creekside has definitely got my attention.

Matanzas will be better than it was a year ago, though nowhere near the Pirates’ 2016 heights. Junior Lawrence Russo might have been the most-improved wrestler in any classification or weight class last year, and the Pirates have a lot of kids back also. Fourth, again, this year, but a stronger fourth.

It’s tough to project where St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra will fall out. I think the Sharks have a more consistent nucleus of kids returning, but they have the issue of filling a lineup, which was less of a problem for the Yellow Jackets last year. Paxon has the dual disadvantage of a small group of returners and that group not having a coach during the critical runup to the season.

Projected finish: 1. Creekside. 2. Bartram Trail. 3. Nease. 4. Matanzas. 5. St. Augustine. 6. Ponte Vedra. 7. Paxon.

Bartram Trail (St Johns)
Coach: Chad Parker, 4th year.
2016-17: 27-6 in duals. 10th at Ridgeview Rumble, T-10th at Flagler Rotary, T-15th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 6th at region, T-44th at states. 2016 — 3rd at district, 10th at region, T-57th at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 10th at region, T-57th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Nicholas Vugman (junior, 38-11 at 113, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Jerry Gomer (junior, 120, 1 match from regions); Joseph Governara (junior, 126, 1 match from regions); James Mueller (senior, 132, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Christian Crews (senior, 22-8 at 145, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Ralph Hamilton (sophomore, 145, did not compete in post-season); William King (senior, 160, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Caleb Sutherland (senior, 11-18 at 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Jacob Bennett (senior, 9-19 at 182, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Chris Kwarteng (junior, 182, did not compete in post-season); Brooks Harp (senior, 22-6 at 195, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Kolton McDaniel (senior, 42-10 at 220, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Justin Thompson (senior, 285, district champ, 1 match from states).
Key losses (graduation): Matt Pickett (138, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Kevin Williams (152, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Solid returning group is back from best Bears season in years, if not ever. More off-season work (including a couple of Bears making regular treks to CFWA rumbles) has been done than in prior seasons. Bartram probably stronger in duals format than in IBTs.
Program needs: Hurdles left remaining are now mostly mental ones. Program might need a little bit of schedule uptick a bit earlier in season. Less-experienced kids need to take a step forward in order for Bears to win districts.
Matmen’s take: This year might be Bears’ best opportunity to take the district title in the near future, and it could be within their reach if a few kids are able to step up to the challenge required in taking it.

Creekside (St Johns)
Coach: Rick Marabell, 10th year.
2016-17: 16-6 in duals. 9th at Ridgeview Rumble, 3rd at Battle of the Border, 3rd at Kowboy Invitational, 14th at Flagler Rotary, 11th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2016 — 1st at district, 5th at region, 32nd at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 5th at region, 20th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 4th at region, T-47th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Luke Davis (sophomore, 32-9 at 106, district champ, 1 match from states); Colin Brown (junior, 19-22 at 113, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Jake Summers (junior, 22-19 at 120, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Max Patterson (senior, 20-20 at 126, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Jalen Hines (sophomore, 10-21 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Josh Benavides (sophomore, 4-12 at 138, 1 match from regions); Jacob Cooney (senior, 28-16 at 145, district champ, 1 match from states); Brendan Jones (senior, 35-19 at 152, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Jack Tellin (junior, 11-26 at 160, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Brandon Dickman (senior, 51-2 at 170, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Trey Chesser (junior, 19-16 at 182, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Caleb Dickens (junior, 3-3 at 220, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Saul Storey (junior, 19-7 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Josh Saunders (senior, 3-14 at 285, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Corey Grower (195, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states).
Program strengths: Knights have virtually entire 2017 lineup back and will be gunning not only for district but region titles this year. Strong coaching staff prepares kids for maximum post-season effort. Like Bartram, Creekside is probably a better duals team, first year with FHSAA post-season duals should be a benefit for program.
Program needs: Group as a whole would benefit from more off-season exposure. Second-level kids in varsity lineup will need to take steps forward in order to ensure title success.
Matmen’s take: Bartram and Nease aren’t going to just let Knights run the show, but Creekside depth and experience should be enough to defend district title. If Knights can shore up a couple of weak spots, that might extend to a team region title.

Matanzas (Palm Coast)
Coach: John White, 13th year.
2016-17: 15-17 in duals. 18th at Capital City Classic, 16th at Flagler Rotary, 29th at Clay Rotary, T-15th at girls’ states.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, 16th at region, T-75th at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 3rd at region, 26th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 5th at region, T-30th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Ethan Goodman (sophomore, 26-13 at 106, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Josh Bower (junior, 33-16 at 113, district 4th, 1 match from states); MaKayla Wilder (junior, 11-13 at 113, 4th at girls’ state, did not compete in post-season); Stone White (senior, 28-16 at 120, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Lawrence Russo (junior, 46-14 at 126, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Caleb Bower (junior, 9-8 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season); Noel Alicea (sophomore, 18-12 at 132, district 4th, 1 match from states); Jackson Mills (junior, 13-14 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Ian Eckert (junior, 24-22 at 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Angelina Bermudez (sophomore, 7-5 at 138/145, 5th at girls’ state, 0-2 at districts); Daryin Newsome (junior, 7-8 at 152, did not compete in post-season); Victor Paci (junior, 2-12 at 160, 1 match from regions); Jakobi Givens (senior, 25-17 at 182, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Tyrel Scheltz (junior, 2-13 at 195, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Christian Zaborowski (junior, 1-8 at 220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Paul Berent (junior, 7-9 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Zach Fisch (senior, 7-24 at 285, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Daniel Leonard (senior, 6-1 at 285 before season-ending injury, did not compete in post-season).
Key addition: Tyrone Jones (senior, 3A-District 1 runnerup, 3A-Region 1 3rd, 1 match from 3A state medal, moved from Flagler Palm Coast).
Key losses (graduation): Christopher Mixan (170, district runnerup, 4th at region, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Schedule prepares wrestlers for post-season challenge. Solid number of returners with a year’s more experience will certainly make things easier this year. In Wilder and Bermudez, Pirates could challenge for two girls’ state titles just before the FHSAA post-season begins.
Program needs: Experienced bigs would be helpful, particularly if Leonard (see above) returns as planned. Being able to fill out a full lineup, and not just at season’s end, would also be beneficial.
Matmen’s take: This was a roster that had to be rebuilt from almost scratch a year ago, and made it work. Were it not for three teams in district that could all contend for top-6 berths at region, Pirates would be a stronger threat, but they’ve got more than a few weapons.

Nease (Ponte Vedra Beach)
Coach: Craig Muckle, 4th year.
2016-17: 19-11 in duals. 14th at Ridgeview Rumble, 24th at Flagler Rotary, T-32nd at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, 4th at region, T-62nd at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 11th at region, T-44th at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 23rd at region, T-67th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Sean Arnold (junior, 35-10 at 113, district champ, region champ, 0-2 at states); Gannon Janssen (sophomore, 30-8 at 120, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Brenden Teaman (senior, 16-10 at 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Saam (senior, 8-8 at 126, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Jacob Satterfield (junior, 30-3 at 132, district champ, region champ, 1-2 at states); Jacob Corrales (junior, 9-8 at 132/138, did not compete at post-season); Braden Hill (sophomore, 4-19 at 145, 1 match from regions); Tanner Hill (sophomore, 22-14 at 152, district 3rd, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Carson White (senior, 8-11 at 160, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Grayson Suggs (senior, 12-23 at 170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jarrod Case (senior, 21-13 at 182, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Nick Thoresen (sophomore, 25-21 at 195, district 3rd, 1 match from states).
Key addition: Deandre Demus (junior, 3A-District 1 runnerup, 3A-Region 1 runnerup, 1-2 at 3A states, transferred from Fleming Island).
Key losses (graduation): Aidan Pagana (138, 1 match from regions); Jon Walter (220, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Numbers have been solid even before Panthers were truly competitive. Lower weights will be among the strongest — after the “Big 3” clubs — in the area. Coaching nucleus has been effective in keeping kids wrestling year-round and encouraging kids to stay in program.
Program needs: Panthers need a couple of bigs that can learn some moves and get time. Last year’s club had moments of truly being solid, this year should determine if they can maintain that as a continuity.
Matmen’s take: While Creekside and Bartram can and should finish 1-2, I’m going to keep an eye on this program right from the jump. If they sort out their lineup in the lowers/middles, and pick up a couple more bigs, it’s a very dangerous club.

Paxon (Jacksonville)
Coach: Joe Warren, 1st year as program HC.
2016-17: 0-7 in duals. 13th at Arlington Optimist, 14th at Gateway Conference, 14th at 5 Star Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, T-26th at regions. 2016 — 7th at district, T-26th at regions. 2015 — 9th at 1A-District 3, 29th at 1A-Region 1.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Dylan Booker (sophomore, 2-10 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Bailey Guess (junior, 1-8 at 132, 1 match from regions); Makoto Gazzara (junior, 4-5 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Corey Jones (senior, 5-9 at 145, 1 match from regions); Gabriel Border (junior, 3-10 at 160, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Jamaari Mitchell (182, 1 match from regions); Jordan Smith (285, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Given where the kids go to school, they’re more than capable of receiving instruction.
Program needs: Mat time mat time mat time. When the most matches any of the returners have last year is 14, that’s simply not enough. That’s barely a third of a standard season any more. Then extensive off-season time as well.
Matmen’s take: The sooner the Golden Eagles would get a coach on board, the better. And this year’s group simply has to wrestle more matches.

Ponte Vedra
Coach: Mike Ostlund, 8th year.
2016-17: 10-12 in duals. 6th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 15th at Battle of the Border.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, 23rd at region. 2016 — 5th at district, 25th at region. 2015 — 6th at district, T-25th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Gavin Riccobono (junior, 25-7 at 106, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Preston Turner (junior, 19-11 at 113, 1 match from regions); Bryan Reed (junior, 9-14 at 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jonathan Soffer (junior, 13-11 at 126, 1 match from regions); Ethan Baur (sophomore, 14-13 at 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Evan Merry (senior, 23-13 at 152, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): James Stanton (132, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Harrison Crowley (138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Good nucleus of returners, with most of them staying on even after March 2018. Lowers, in particular, could be a building block for this team. Experienced coaching staff provides stability.
Program needs: Offseason work would have helped this nucleus, as Ponte Vedra hasn’t had state representation since 2013. Like most schools where football dominates, getting kids out is problematic.
Matmen’s take: Sharks would possibly challenge for fourth in the district if they could field a full lineup. They weren’t close to one last year due to a very deep football run. If they can find some uppers to begin molding into shape, that would be a good start.

St. Augustine
Coach: Will Rinchiusa, 1st year as HC.
2016-17: 6-23 in duals. 3rd at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 30th at Flagler Rotary, 8th at Westside Duals.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, 21st at region. 2016 — 6th at district, T-21st at region, T-76th at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 21st at region, T-67th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Conlan Trimble (senior, 5-14 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Marcus Petersen (senior, 21-10 at 138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Colin Griffin (senior, 1-14 at 152, 1 match from regions); Tracey Beshara (senior, 31-14 at 160, 1 match from states); Alexander Mewes (senior, 9-19 at 170, 1 match from regions); Micah Hartley (sophomore, 6-16 at 182, 1 match from regions); Cade Aupsburger (senior, 13-8 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Timothy Alalla (126, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Nick Thomson (132, 1 match from regions); Jacob Linden (145, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Young coaching staff has already made solid commitment to getting home dates on calendar. Previous coaching administration emphasized getting lots of kids varsity mat time, so there are several returners that got a fair amount of exposure.
Program needs: Continuity is key, as most of last year’s lineup consisted of first-year starters. Group that returned needed off-season presence to keep skills sharp.
Matmen’s take: In Petersen and Beshara, Yellow Jackets have a pair of threats for states, but doing better than fifth at districts is a tall order. Rinchiusa wrestled for SAHS two years ago, so he’s got a couple of very good reasons for wanting to improve the program.

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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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TurkeyNWrestling: 2A-District 1

Team synopsis: We put out the disclaimer early on last year when it came to 2A-District 1 predictions.

(From last year’s synopsis): “Of the 10 districts I’m covering, this one might have the most possibility for new teams to come out of the woodwork, and the most possibility for Matmen-as-prognosticator to be wrong.”

Bang on, on both counts. We didn’t expect Gulf Breeze to be a team that would challenge for top-of-the-heap status, and we didn’t expect Tate to be as resilient as it was last year.

But at the same time that our predictions were sure to be wrong turned out right, one prediction did go right in our first year for picking 2A-1, as Pace took home the district title.

It would be a very tall order for the Patriots this year, as district runnerup Gulf Breeze lost just two post-season starters. The Dolphins had some depth as well that will be returning, and they’re looking like the likeliest candidate to win in District 1.

Tate and Niceville are the next candidates for top team honors. Both teams should shine a bit more brightly in IBT events than they might in duals, and both should have strong candidates for top spots on podiums throughout the season. It might come down to how the second-tier kids in both lineups show out that determines who might finish second and third.

While Pace lost a massive graduation class in May, the Patriots have enough back that it will be an interesting battle with Choctaw, I believe, for the last spot among teams in the top half of the district. Pace might be better in IBTs, and the Indians might be better in duals. It’s tough to tell, as these previews don’t always gauge well as far as incoming freshman groups.

I think Fort Walton Beach should edge Crestview and Milton for the sixth spot. That’s my story for now, but I’m willing to be wrong.

One thing I already know I won’t be wrong about: New coaches will definitely have an impact in the district this year. Half of the teams in the district will have new HCs (one is moving up from the assistant ranks), with a fifth coach in just his second year.

Projected finish: 1. Gulf Breeze. 2. Tate. 3. Niceville. 4. Pace. 5. Choctawhatchee. 6. Ft Walton Beach. 7. Crestview. 8. Milton.

Choctawhatchee (Ft Walton Beach)
Coach: Josh Pulliam, 7th year.
2016-17: 8-13 in duals. 14th at Capital City Classic, 6th at Trojan Invitational, 3rd at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, 20th at region. 2016 — 6th at district, 20th at region, T-41st at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 17th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): David Sharp (sophomore, 13-18 at 106, 1 match from regions); Jerson Cabiao (junior, 27-10 at 113, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Jacky Grissom (senior, 7-15 at 120/126, did not compete in post-season); Logan Myer (junior, 23-14 at 126, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Eli Smith (senior, 18-22 at 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Marc Casey (senior, 32-10 at 138, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Dentin Bottino (junior, 8-16 at 152, 1 match from regions); Taylor Newnam (senior, 3-13 at 152, did not compete in post-season); Martino Plummer (senior, 22-15 at 285, district 4th, 2-2 at regions).
Key addition: Carlos Bogan (junior, 13-18 at 145, 1 match from regions, transferred from Ft Walton Beach).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Aaron Ojeda (120, 1 match from regions); Nathan Gunn (145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions, transferred to Crestview); Isaac Smith (160, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Sam Mason (182, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Substantial group of returners back this year. Choctaw has had a state qualifier every other year in the past four seasons, and this year is an on year. Lower weights up to at least 152 should be fairly consistent.
Program needs: Many returners, but they’ll need to take a qualitative step forward this year, as less than half were better than .500 in 2016-17. Indians will need to shore up their upper weights.
Matmen’s take: Indians have a solid chance to move into the top half of the district if they can learn lessons another year’s worth of experience can teach.

Crestview
Coach: Roman Rozell, 1st year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 4th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, 17th at region, T-57th at states. 2016 — 7th at district, 16th at region, T-64th at states. 2015 — 6th at district, 19th at region, T-67th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Michael Higdon (sophomore, 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Arthor Richardson (sophomore, 113, 1 match from regions); Trace Sears (sophomore, 120, 1 match from regions); Karter Watson (junior, 126, 0-2 at districts); Nick Koehne (senior, 132, 0-2 at districts); Angel Ortega (senior, 138, 1 match from regions); Diego Calonje (senior, 145, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Milton Bouchard (senior, 152, district 4th, 1 match from states); James Secrest (junior, 160, did not compete in post-season); Ben Taylor (senior, 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Coleman Young (senior, 220, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Weston Tew (junior, 285, district runnerup, 1 match from states).
Key addition: Nathan Gunn (senior, 23-18 at 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions, transferred from Choctaw).
Key losses (graduation): Matthew Vigren (145/152, did not compete in post-season); Travis McIver (160, 0-2 at districts); Jordan Zimmerman (182, 0-2 at districts); Brayden Moore (195, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Program has had consistent star power each of the past three years, as post-season efforts show. New coaching staff is getting Bulldogs out of the Panhandle a bit more often (or at least to bigger events in it more often). Three consecutive years at state tournament shows kids success is possible.
Program needs: Second-level kids need to step up in order to make Bulldogs more competitive in duals environment. Last year’s group definitely needed more mat time, and this year’s schedule should address that.
Matmen’s take: I think Crestview can be better, and if response to a stronger schedule is positive, the Bulldogs will be better in 2017-18. It comes down to belief in Rozell’s process.
* — records not included due to missing results.

Ft Walton Beach
Coach: Tobi Marez, 12th year.
2016-17: 7-15 in duals. T-16th at Border Wars, 9th at Swede Umbach Invitational, 13th at Southeastern Duals, 7th at Mountain Brook Invitational.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 7th at district, 13th at region, T-19th at states. 2016 — 5th at district, 19th at region, T-76th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 12th at region, T-67th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Britain Mason (sophomore, 8-17 at 106, 0-2 at districts); Sterling Glover (senior, 10-27 at 113, 1 match from regions); Colwyn Mason (senior, 12-30 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Eddie Alexis (sophomore, 1-15 at 152, 0-2 at districts); Connor Cleveland (senior, 19-12 at 160, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Corban Ferguson (sophomore, 9-9 at 160, did not compete in post-season); Nick Woodward (senior, 31-20 at 195, district 3rd, region 4th, 1 match from state medal).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Carter Lurk (138, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Carlos Bogan (junior, 145, 1 match from regions, transferred to Choctaw); Chase Cleveland (170, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Joey Royce (182, did not compete in post-season); Joseph Pearson (285, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states).
Program strengths: Competitive schedule helped stronger Vikings prepare for post-season run in 2017, leading to a solid states finish. FWB hosts a solid duals event just before Christmas, Beast of the Beach, that helps kids get ready for stretch run. Several returners back from last year’s team, should be a more experienced group.
Program needs: While a strong schedule helps strong kids get better, it means less-experienced kids take a lot of lumps, and last year’s Vikings did, particularly in lower weights. FWB will have to recruit some upper weights this year to stay competitive in duals environments.
Matmen’s take: Other than one wrestler, Vikings have just one returner with a win at the region level. Second-level kids from a year ago have to get better for FWB to enjoy more success.

Gulf Breeze
Coach: Dave Daily, 2nd year.
2016-17: 26-3 in duals. 1st at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 14th at region, T-52nd at states. 2016 — 3rd at district, 18th at region, T-69th at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 15th at region, T-30th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Gabe Jacobs (sophomore, 42-4 at 106, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Aiden Jones (junior, 9-8 at 113, 0-2 at districts); Levi McConnell (sophomore, 28-12 at 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Michael Walls (junior, 20-17 at 126, 1 match from regions); Nate Losievsky (senior, 29-5 at 132, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Calvin Malo (junior, 25-13 at 138, 1 match from regions); Dylan Lawrence (sophomore, 3-8 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Devon Patterson (senior, 7-8 at 145, did not compete in post-season); Alex Jacobs (senior, 25-7 at 152, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Dawson Daub (senior, 9-7 at 170, 1 match from regions); Tannen Slack (senior, 40-3 at 182, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Jacob Tisdale (senior, 30-10 at 220, district champ, 1 match from states); Rocky O’Rourke (senior, 15-13 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (graduation): Dillon Abell (152/160, did not compete in post-season); Bradley Miller (160, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Jalen Triplett (170, did not compete in post-season); Drew Drollinger (195, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Very solid group of returners back that includes a couple of kids hurt in mid-season and backups that didn’t collect 15 matches last year. Not many holes in the lineup, even some good depth in the lower weights behind starters. Group had faith in Daily’s program from day 1.
Program needs: Schedule will need some upgrading in 2017-18 for Dolphins to challenge for a region top-five slot. Lineup consistency in the middle wasn’t quite where the rest of the group was a year ago, and more experience should help that this year.
Matmen’s take: If they’re not the favorite, Dolphins will certainly be among the favorites in the district, but the biggest difference between Gulf Breeze and the other favorites was strength of schedule. That’s key this season.

Milton
Coach: Chafan Marsh, 1st year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. T-19th at Capital City Classic, 7th at Tate Invitational, 7th at Gator Brawl.
Other post-season stats: 2017 — 8th at district, 24th at region. 2016 — 8th at district, 24th at region. 2015 — 9th at district.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Cayden Busbee (sophomore, 106, did not compete in post-season); Brandon Nicholson (sophomore, 126, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Aiden Sterba (junior, 138, 0-2 at districts); Ian Van Gestel (junior, 145, 0-2 at districts); Daniel McDonal (sophomore, 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Anthony Henry (senior, 152/160, did not compete in post-season); Connor Saint (senior, 220, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Alec Cavazos (sophomore, 220, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Donovan Smith (132, 1 match from regions); Layne Brantley (152, 0-2 at districts); Jervaughn Craig (160, 1 match from regions); Xavier Morgan (170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Christian Atchison (170, did not compete in post-season); Seth Martin (182, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Jovanni Salas (195, 0-2 at districts); Tre’mon Glass (285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: Good number of returners back, including four sophomores that should be the building blocks of Marsh’s program going forward. From what I’ve been seeing on social media, there have been efforts to get jump-started on conditioning this year.
Program needs: With no state appearances in the past four seasons, Panthers need to work toward building a program that gets a wrestler to Kissimmee. Heavy graduation losses will be tough to take.
Matmen’s take: If programs are indeed built brick-by-brick, Brick 1 might be put into place this year. Might be a long slog this year, but putting the bricks together will eventually yield results.
* — records not included due to missing results

Niceville
Coach: Morrie Geseller, 1st year as HC.
2016-17: Unknown for duals. T-16th at Border Wars, 8th at Capital City Classic, 5th at Trojan Invitational, 10th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, 8th at region, 24th at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 13th at region, T-64th at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, T-7th at region, T-40th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Lee Hamilton (sophomore, 106, 1 match from regions); Zachary Hartzog (senior, 120, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Keean Creager (sophomore, 126, 1 match from regions); Collin Lentz (junior, 132, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Sam Williams (junior, 138, 0-2 at districts); Bailey Howes (senior, 145, district runnerup, region champ, 1-2 at states); Jackson Schoener (sophomore, 152, 1 match from regions); Jack Johnson (senior, 160, district champ, region runnerup, state champion); Darrius Pena (senior, 195, 1 match from regions); Morgan Causey (senior, 220, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Dominic Cerillo (113, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Jordan Hines (182, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Adrian High (285, 1 match from regions).
Program strengths: With each of the past four seasons ending with state appearances (including Johnson as returning state champion), Eagles expect success on an annual basis. Most of the Niceville returners at least have had some regular-season success, and should only build on that in the coming season.
Program needs: The Eagles will need a permanent coach, as Coach Geseller moved up from the assistant ranks for just this year. Off-season work would have been helpful, for everyone in the program.
Matmen’s take: Niceville could move up in the district standings, and push hard in duals, but they’re still a team that will show up more strongly in regular-season IBTs — and at regions and states.
* — records not included due to missing results

Pace (Santa Rosa Beach)
Coach: Will Diamond, 1st year.
2016-17: 30-1 in duals. 13th at Border Wars, 9th at Capital City Classic, 2nd at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 2nd at region, 37th at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 9th at region, T-52nd at states. 2015 — 3rd at district, 11th at region, T-44th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Owen Moore (senior, 35-16 at 132, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Cameron Bennett (senior, 39-16 at 138, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Kishma Davis (junior, 41-15 at 145, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Anthony Root (junior, 22-16 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Ethan Billhimer (sophomore, 41-11 at 170, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); John Gunther (junior, 31-23 at 182, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Austin O’Gara (106, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Leland Knoch (113, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Kevin Green (126, district champ, region runnerup, did not compete at states); Sullivan Gerlits (152, district champ, 1 match from states); Key Nettles (195, district champ, region champ, 3rd at states); Nick Singletary (220, 1 match from regions); Murphy Bennett (285, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states).
Program strengths: Still a solid core of wrestlers back that saw a good amount of success. Middleweights, in particular, will be a strength for the Patriots. Schedule last year had a good mix of coverage; if it can be replicated, stronger Pace kids will benefit.
Program needs: A massive graduation loss, with four district champs and four state qualifiers moving on in May, will be tough to overcome. While Patriots will be solid in the middle, there will be all new faces at the lower bookend and mostly new ones in the uppers.
Matmen’s take: Too much ability returns to knock Pace out of the top half of the district, but incoming wave of starters would have to be able to jump in immediately for Patriots to have a shot at retaining title.

Tate (Cantonment)
Coach: Reggie Allen, 4th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 20th at Border Wars, 1st at Tate Invitational, 8th at Trojan Invitational, 5th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 3rd at district, 3rd at region, 31st at states. 2016 — 1st at district, 6th at region, T-14th at states. 2015 — 7th at district, 20th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Jacob Cochran (senior, 106, district champ, region champ, 1 match from state medal); Noah Kryfka (senior, 113, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Matthew Blalock (senior, 126, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Derek Cannon (sophomore, 132, 1 match from regions); Isaiah Brill (senior, 145, 1 match from regions); Juan Alvarez (senior, 152, district runnerup, region champ, 0-2 at states); Alex Young (senior, 170, 1 match from regions); Jacob Nowling (senior, 220, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): Alex Porter (120, district champ, region 3rd, 6th at states); Kendall Townley (138, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Jeff Rafuse/Orth (160, 1 match from regions); Orlando Milhouse (182, 1 match from regions); Jacob Neales (195, district 4th, did not compete at regions).
Program strengths: Lower-weight strength will continue to be an asset for Tate. Experience (six of seven returners are seniors) will prove to be very helpful for the younger guys in the room. Good amount of offseason work should be helpful for the season ahead.
Program needs: Two state qualifiers are always tough to replace. Could be several upper weights that will not be filled or be filled by less-experienced kids this winter. Aggies will need to be finding some uppers to put into the lineup.
Matmen’s take: Tate will still be very competitive, what with three returning state qualifiers, within the district and region, but dual meets — barring a wave of incoming talent — will be a tougher prospect.

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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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TurkeyNWrestling: 2A-District 3

Team synopsis: Let’s start with what we do know about 2A-District 3.

The Clay County teams — to quote Tim Kurkjian (there’s that mixed-metaphor thing again), are really good. The triumvirate of Orange Park, Middleburg and, to a smaller extent, Ridgeview, have more or less dominated the 2A-3 scene in the past few seasons.

This year should not be different. Clay County should go 1-2-3 in the team standings when February rolls around.

But the order of finish? That’s a bit trickier to figure out.

For at least one more year, I think Orange Park has sufficient depth in the tank to take the title, something the Raiders have done in three of the past four seasons. They have to replace two state qualifiers (including a runnerup), but do have one returning state qualifier, most of the weights covered (and more than a few with some depth) and tradition on their side.

Ridgeview took another important step last year, moving into the top three in the district in 2017 with a freshman-heavy lineup. Those freshmen are now sophomores, and they’ve spent a lot of time together getting better this off-season. Replacing a four-time state qualifier and three-time medalist is difficult, but transfers pick up the slack. Now it comes down to belief.

If Middleburg fills all of its weights, they will push very hard to return to the top of the heap in the district, where it was in 2016, but other than one returning state placer, the Broncos will have no returners above 182, and it’s tough to give up that many weight classes against full teams, and that’s why I’ve slotted them third — at least for now.

I think the combination of returning starters and coaching continuity leads me to pick Terry Parker for the fourth spot over Englewood and Ed White, at this point. The Braves have a few kids back that made it to Saturday at regions, and a few more that have had multiple years as starters.

Englewood welcomes a new coach in Joseph Stetzer, losing three of their top four kids to graduation. The Rams have just two returning starters back with more than a year of starting experience, but last year’s state performance proves they can build talent capable of reaching the final Saturday of the season.

If all of Ed White’s kids that saw regular time last year come out and stay out for the full season, I would pick the Commanders for at least fourth, but White had just four wrestlers compete at districts last year after a mid-pack Gateway team finish with two individual champions. They’re certainly capable.

Stanton’s still missing too many weights to field a competitive team, but the Blue Devils have at least one wrestler who will challenge for Kissimmee, something the Blue Devils haven’t accomplished in some time. They did get more kids out, but they, too, need to keep all of them on the mat for a full season.

Projected finish: 1. Orange Park. 2. Ridgeview. 3. Middleburg. 4. Terry Parker. 5. Englewood. 6. Ed White. 7. Stanton.

Ed White (Jacksonville)
Coach: Jaylen Lee, 5th year.
2016-17: Unknown in duals. 7th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, T-10th at Battle on the Border, 8th at Gateway Conference, 12th at 5 Star Invitational, T-68th at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 8th at district, T-26th at region. 2016 — 3rd at district, 4th at region, 21st at states. 2015 — 4th at district, 9th at region, T-49th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Bruce Harting (junior, 106, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Tyler Meade (junior, 106, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Stoddard (sophomore, 106, did not compete in post-season); Isabeau Brathwaite (sophomore, 120, 0-2 at girls’ state, did not compete in FHSAA post-season); Jacob East (senior, 126, did not compete in post-season); Justin Stoddard (senior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Niguel Hunt (sophomore, 145/152, did not compete in post-season); Carl Otero (junior, 152/160, did not compete in post-season); Marquese Carter (sophomore, 170, 1 match from regions); Elijah Lima (junior, 182, 1 match from regions); Max Brathwaite (senior, 182/195, did not compete in post-season); Damian Deleston (junior, 195/220, did not compete in post-season); Jordan Wilson (sophomore, 285, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Jazlyn Villalona (132, 1-2 at girls’ state, did not compete in FHSAA post-season).
Program strengths: Commander coaching staff has experience in developing city talent and knowing how to win. Schedule is among the better ones in the Gateway Conference year in and year out. At times last season, despite huge 2016 graduation losses, Ed White had kids step up and take leadership, including two individual Gateway titles.
Program needs: 2017 was first year in the previous four seasons in which Commanders were not represented at states. Keeping kids in the lineup and getting them mat time has to be a priority this season.
Matmen’s take: Lee was in, then out, then back in, back out and finally in for a fifth year. He can inspire kids to be better. If Commanders stick out the season this year, they can be.
* — records not posted due to missing results.

Englewood (Jacksonville)
Coach: Joseph Stetzer, 1st year.
2016-17: 10-5 in duals. 2nd at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 9th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 11th at Gateway Conference, 18th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 4th at district, 18th at region, T-44th at states. 2016 — 5th at district, 21st at region. 2015 — 7th at district, 24th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Cameron Courtenay (sophomore, 6-13 at 106, did not compete in post-season); Hunter Padgett (sophomore, 16-10 at 113, did not compete in post-season); Dairo Guerra (junior, 17-16 at 120, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Tyler Crawford (senior, 12-13 at 126, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Christopher Lands (junior, 8-12 at 220, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Karam Hill (senior, 19-8 at 285, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Tanner Kern (145, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Deion Marshall (152, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Tavian Whitehead (160, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Michel Augustin (182, district runnerup, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal).
Program strengths: Rams made their first appearance at states for the first time in several years (first time since Matmen was built), even having a Saturday presence there. That’s an important step forward. Had two solid December tournament finishes, showing they could compete against the larger area. Many first-year starters acclimated to environment in 2016-17.
Program needs: Lot of talent left with 2017 graduating class, plus several regular-season starters were not in post-season lineup. Returning seniors will need to step up and show leadership. Mat time in- and off-season remains a critical need.
Matmen’s take: Last year was an important milestone for Englewood within the sport, but, unfortunately, it was also last year. Kids moving up in grade and coming into program will have substantial work to do to keep this momentum going.

Middleburg
Coach: Richie Dusinberre, 2nd year.
2016-17: 13-11 in duals. 8th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, T-4th at Battle on the Border, 20th at Flagler Rotary, 8th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 2nd at district, 7th at region, 26th at states. . 2016 — 1st at district, 1st at region, T-22nd at states. 2015 — 2nd at district, 2nd at region, T-17th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Tazz Hampton (sophomore, 27-21 at 106, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Logan Kline (junior, 10-25 at 113, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Dalton Falana (sophomore, 5-18 at 120, 1 match from regions); Chris Burch (junior, 16-14 at 126, district champ, 1 match from states); Bryce Williams (junior, 22-19 at 132, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Storm Mercado (junior, 14-3 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Dustin Tollison (sophomore, 17-20 at 138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Joe Manfredi (152, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Cody Eastwood (160, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Dylan Hanna (170, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Bailey Barnard (285, district champ, region 3rd; 4th at states).
Program strengths: Broncos did a solid job of reloading, with eight 1st-year starters, six of them back this year. With two returning state qualifiers and a third right on the doorstep, experience at highest levels will be helpful. Some off-season experience has been sought out, which should make the decent kids more solid.
Program needs: With no returners bigger than 145, Broncos simply must find some upperweights this year. Getting a lineup filled was Broncos’ path to district and region title in 2016. More of the younger kids — particularly the lesser-experienced ones — could have benefited from off-season work.
Matmen’s take: There’s almost never a situation where the Broncos don’t throw maximum effort into the mat; what has held Middleburg back, as a team, has just been either inexperienced or incomplete lineups. We may not know until after the season has begun if Broncos can win the district, but they’ll be in the mix.

Orange Park
Coach: Justin Daniels, 3rd year.
2016-17: 19-11 in duals. 5th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 5th at Ridgeview Rumble, 2nd at Rob Bierbaum Invitational, 9th at Trojan Invitational, T-15th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 1st at district, 7th at region, T-28th at states. 2016 — 2nd at district, 8th at region, T-27th at states. 2015 — 1st at district, 3rd at region, 26th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Cameron Broughton (sophomore, 30-10 at 106, district champ, 1 match from states); Frank Sawyer (senior, 22-5 at 113, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Dean Ganci (junior, 22-14 at 120, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Nic Thompson (junior, 6-18 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Robert McGlynn (junior, 13-19 at 132, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Jacob Campbell (sophomore, 28-17 at 152, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Reed Danielson (senior, 31-14 at 182, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states).
Key losses (graduation): Dashner St. Vilus (138, district 3rd, did not compete at regions); Richard Cuiksa (138/145, did not compete in post-season); Nartorian Lee (170, district champ, region 3rd, state runnerup); Tyler Dehart (220, district champ, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Shaun Bizzell (285, did not compete in post-season).
Program strengths: Pretty good core group of kids returning from a season in which a new identity had to be forged. With district wins in three of the past four seasons, the Raiders are used to winning and doing what it takes to win. For all of the returning experience, a lot of the returners will be back for more than one year, which is always a good thing.
Program needs: This year’s Raider team might need a bit more lineup consistency to turn back Ridgeview and Middleburg. A couple of the better OP kids got some off-season work done, but more needed to stay on the mats this spring and summer. Substantial graduation loss will be a factor.
Matmen’s take: Raiders expected to win until they don’t, but the tossup nature among the top three teams assures that the process should be a dogfight. If lineup settles out early, that would be a variable in Orange Park’s favor.

Ridgeview (Orange Park)
Coach: Bryson Barker, 3rd year.
2016-17: 4-6 in duals. 14th at Border Wars, 7th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 4th at Ridgeview Rumble, 4th at Cradle Cancer, 7th at Trojan Invitational, 13th at Pirate Ships & Duels, 2nd at 5 Star Invitational, 38th at Clay Rotary.
Other post-season stats: 2017 — 3rd at district, 9th at region, T-19th at states. 2016 — 4th at district, 14th at region, T-57th at states. 2015 — 5th at district, 22nd at region, T-67th at states.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Gabe Guzman (sophomore, 25-25 at 106, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Jonathan Kaylor (sophomore, 17-23 at 113, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Tanner Belden (junior, 19-10 at 126, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Jacob McGowan (sophomore, 12-15 at 132, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Requan Works (sophomore, 20-16 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Saeid Ejmali (senior, 39-8 at 138, district champ, region champ, 1 match from state medal); Malachi Martin (sophomore, 21-19 at 145, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Reed Propes (junior, 18-23 at 152, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); John Tiedeman (junior, 15-17 at 160, 1 match from regions); Kaine Avery (junior, 4-21 at 170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Craig Zacker (senior, 10-19 at 182, 1 match from regions); Kenneth Tresvant (senior, 12-28 at 285, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions).
Key addition: Matthew Rodriquez (freshman, 39-5 at 106, 1A-District 4 champ, 1A-Region 1 3rd, 1-2 at 1A states, transferred from University Christian).
Key loss (graduation): Marcus Reid (120, district champ, region champ, state 3rd).
Program strengths: Injection of youth kind of took over the scene last year, and the Clay County Panthers took some lumps as a result, lumps that could pay off this year. Strong schedule, for the youth of the group, also provided its lumps, and this year’s schedule appears no different, but group is more experienced. Group has traveled well to off-season events, at least in the spring and summer.
Program needs: Panthers have some bigs, but they’re not as deep in the uppers (no returners at 195/220) as they are down low.
Matmen’s take: There’s not going to be much gap between the three Clay County programs in this district, and if the Panthers are the ones coming out on top, they’ll be able to attribute it to a lot of off-season growth. That’s a variable where Ridgeview has held an edge, comparing groupwide practices.

Stanton (Jacksonville)
Coach: David Piper, 3rd year.
2016-17: 6-12 in duals. 11th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 13th at Gateway Conference, 6th at Westside Duals.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 6th at district, 25th at region. 2016 — 7th at district, T-26th at region. 2015 — 9th at district.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): John Perera (junior, 1-5 at 106, 1 match from regions); Miles Every (senior, 13-11 at 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Gabriel Navearro (sophomore, 13-13 at 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Tymofiy Hryhorchuk (junior, 14-11 at 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Bryce Battle (senior, 4-8 at 145, 1 match from regions); Mitchell Mika (senior, 26-10 at 160, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Patrick Lehman (senior, 10-17 at 170, did not compete in post-season).
Key losses (graduation): Anthony Burlas (145, did not compete in post-season); Michael Montalbo (220, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Continuity in the program is continuing to get stronger. Just being able to field even a partial team at districts a year ago was an upgrade. Senior leadership with Mika would already be there, but having a couple more 12th graders always helps.
Program needs: More kids out; Matmen has continued to do his part in this effort, to no avail (full disclosure: I have a junior son who could wrestle heavy, he has some long-unused technique and good strength, but alas, he’s devoted to track). And the kids that are out need to make wrestling more of a year-long thing with offseason work.
Matmen’s take: Blue Devils are still a ways off from contending in the district — even a full-time 285 would not be enough for that — but Stanton did take strides from where things ended up in 2015-16.

Terry Parker (Jacksonville)
Coach: John Dunn, 19th year.
2016-17: 7-15 in duals. 12th at Arlington Optimist Invitational, 17th at Westside Kiwanis Invitational, 12th at Gateway Conference, T-49th at girls’ state meet.
Post-season stats, last 3 years: 2017 — 5th at district, 19th at region, T-68th at states. 2016 — 6th at district, T-23rd at region, T-69th at states. 2015 — 8th at district, T-25th at region.
Projected individual returners (post-season starters & those with 15+ matches, with 2016-17 weights): Amber Goodbread (junior, 6-13 at 106, 1 match from regions); China Sneed (senior, 5-22 at 145, 1 match from regions); Jason Reed (senior, 5-22 at 152, 1 match from regions); Landon Dains (junior, 27-10 at 170, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Boakai Kanneh (senior, 15-14 at 182, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Ben Sabella (junior, 8-11 at 195, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Evan Jefferson (junior, 14-16 at 285, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Reema Sabella (120, 1 match from regions); Jaelyn Reyes (138, did not compete in FHSAA post-season); D’Angelo Johnson (160, district champ, region 3rd); Zachary Smith (220, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Program strengths: Braves had their first state qualifier in at least the four seasons, and had stronger finishes in each of the post-season levels than a year ago. Having so many home events makes scheduling easier and, also, getting kids to events easier. Coaching staff stability well in place.
Program needs: More kids working in the off-season would help. Finishes in regular-season events all took a small step backward from 2015-16. Some more lower weights would help Parker solidify mid-pack spot.
Matmen’s take: Parker and Englewood should battle for fourth; I think the Braves’ numbers and continuity advantages will be the difference.

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#Schedules17-18: Rickards Is In

A couple of housekeeping notes before I dive into the Raiders’ dates, which I got from Brant at the Sentinel last night.

Speaking of which, I have a hopefully-not-too-rambling interview I did last night with him for his “Working the Edge” podcast. It’s sort of a summarized version of tomorrow’s preview, in 40 minutes. Here’s a link to the podcast featuring Florida High’s Clay Allen. Mine, I was told, would air on Friday. I hope you’ll take a listen. We’ll do in-season ones as well that I promise will be more focused.

As for the preview…welp, it’s all in the hopper now. 25,719 words of it. Plus preseason team rankings. Be on the lookout for them tomorrow starting at 6 a.m. ET, with a “Hey Guys My Bad” post at 9 a.m.

Some quick notes on these previews:

  • I don’t do individual rankings until after the season begins. I’m going to try to commit more to more sets of them. But I have to know where all kids are wrestling before I commit to individuals.
  • I don’t highlight freshmen in the previews. I just don’t know who they are yet. Maybe in 3-4 years or so when the Gunner Iveys and Wyatt Leducs are of high-school age, I could change this, but it’s still not likely.
  • I probably need to change how I label what I have as “Prospective individual returners.” It’s not everybody that is coming back that was on the roster last year. The way I have it, only kids that wrestled in the post-season or had 15+ varsity matches last year, or had a season-long injury, are included. I have listed a couple of kids who were prior starters and left the team, but are coming back this year (that’s happened more than a few times this season, which I find interesting). I think I’ll label these as “Key returners” or something different next year.

I would also encourage you to find Brant’s season preview, which is due out Sunday night, at last conversation that I had with him (last night). He’s previewing all 48 districts. Wow. I’ve done “Scouting Reports” in the past of all 48, so I know how hard that is to do.

OK, Rickards. Our 65th schedule. Just nine left, which is about nine too many given that the Northwest season starts in 6 days and Northeast in 7. The Raiders are our 23rd Northwest team and fifth of seven in 1A-District 2.

RICKARDS LOGO

Rickards listed four dates on its season calendar, so we could see them at other events down the road. The two they have in December keep the Raiders in Tallahassee, as they’ll be at Florida High’s Cam Brown Seminole Classic, a two-day roundrobin, on December 1-2, and then the following weekend Rickards will be at Chiles’ two-day IBT, the Capital City Classic, on December 8-9.

In January, the Raiders will take part in FHSAA district duals on the 5th, as 1A-District 2 will be staged at Suwannee. Rickards will also be at what appears to be a quad meet at Godby on January 18, along with Leon and North Florida Christian.

So that’s 65. For most of you, #TurkeyNWrestling is likely to be NEXT. I wish you all safe travels, a Happy Thanksgiving, some glorious vegging out while reading about wrestling and listening to podcasts about wrestling (please don’t toss your phones or laptops, they’re expensive). For those of you nine teams that are left, GET YOUR SCHEDULES IN, I NEED THEM!

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More Friday Preseason Results

We listed last names only, only because not every team had first names available, so I edited this down. As you know, I will want both first and last names once the season begins.

Friday’s Preseason Results
At Buchholz

Round 1
(first match at 170)
Wakulla 40, Orange Park 36
106: Sawyer (OP) p. Hernandez, :51. 113: Bailey (OP) p. Hatchman, 5:36. 120: Owen (Wak) d. Broughton, 10-8. 126: Reeves (Wak) md. Ganci, 11-1. 132: Adams (OP) fft. 138: Lanier (Wak) p. Wilson, :46. 145: Roberts (Wak) p. Poucher, 1:45. 152: Osteen (Wak) p. MacArthur, 1:24. 160: Campbell (OP) p. Baggett, 1:33. 170: Hart (Wak) d. Sermons, 10-5. 182: Annand (Wak) md. Moore, 13-0. 195: Hinsey (Wak) p. Stigler, :21. 220: Danielson (OP) p. Thomas. 285: Brown (Wak) p. Sheehan, 1:20.

Nease 53, Gainesville 12
106: Double fft. 113: Ryan (N) d. Fox, 3-2. 120: Arnold (N) fft. 126: Clements (G) fft. 132: Demus (N) p. Rami, 1:48. 138: Satterfield (N) fft. 145: Double fft. 152: B. Hill (N) md. Fernandez-Smith, 11-1. 160: T. Hill (N) md. Carter, 11-3. 170: Janssen (N) p. Servance, 1:54. 182: Wurstner (N) p. Martino, :15. 195: Case p. Toney, 1:17. 220: Ryan (G) p. Thoresen. 285: Roark (N) fft.

Fleming Island 59, Columbia 12
106: Herrington (FI) p. Millard, 1:31. 113: Gagliardo (FI) p. Dumas, :15. 120: Jackson (FI) d. I. McGuigan, 10-4. 126: Snedaker (FI) d. Curtis, 4-1. 132: Sandoval (FI) tf. A. McGuigan, 20-3. 138: English (FI) p. Davis, :41. 145: Williams (FI) p. Raulerson, :24. 152: Hauser (FI) p. Sobczak, 1:36. 160: Insalaco (FI) p. O’Quinn, 1:36. 170: Detwiler (FI) p. Thompson. 182: James (Col) md. Lascano, 11-3. 195: Travis (FI) p. Trezbuniak. 220: Davidson (Col) p. Gonzalez. 285: Combs (Col) d. Hendrickson, 8-6.

Round 2
Gainesville 36, Lake Weir 30
106: Double fft. 113: Fox (G) p. Piccola. 120: Double fft. 126: Clements (G) fft. 132: Rami (G) fft. 138: Berry (LW) fft. 145: Double fft. 152: Santana (LW) p. Fernandez-Smith, 1:46. 160: Cohn (G) p. E. Wersel, 1:20. 170: Rado (LW) p. Mosley. 182: Becker (G) p. Carroll, 1:13. 195: Petro (LW) p. Toney, :34. 220: Ryan (G) p. S. Wersel, :36. 285: Carr (LW) fft.

(first match at 195)
Fleming Island 64, Wakulla 12
106: Herrington (FI) p. Hernandez. 113: Gagliardo (FI) p. Hatchman. 120: Jackson (FI) p. Owen. 126: Snedaker (FI) p. Reeves. 132: Sandoval (FI) fft. 138: English (FI) md. Lanier, 14-6. 145: Williams (FI) d. Roberts, 7-5. 152: Hauser (FI) p. Osteen. 160: Insalaco (FI) p. Baggett. 170: Detwiler (FI) p. Hart. 182: Lascano (FI) d. Annand, 3-2. 195: Hinsey (Wak) p. Travis. 220: Gonzalez (FI) fft. 285: Brown (Wak) p. Sheets.

(first match at 182)
Nease 52, Buchholz 27
106: T. Demus (N) p. Brown, 1:12. 113: Ryan (N) d. Holmes, 13-7. 120: Arnold (N) p. Buchanan, 1:08. 126: Corrales (N) d. Griffin, 7-5. 132: D. Demus (FI) p. Bell, 1:27. 138: Satterfield (N) p. Fletcher, 1:46. 145: Downs (N) p. Ross, 1:52. 145: Taylor (N) p. Wilson, 1:40. 152: T. Hill (N) md. Smith, 18-6. 160: Ransdell (B) p. Janssen, 3:13. 170: Mobley (B) p. Wurstner, 2:51. 182: Acosta (B) d. Case, 5-3. 220: Thoresen (N) p. Burney, 1:30. 285: Mendon (B) p. Clark, 4:39.

Round 3
(first match at 195)
Buchholz 54, Lake Weir 21
106: Double fft. 113: Piccola (LW) p. Brown, 4:37. 120: Holmes (B) fft. 126: Buchanan (B) fft. 132: Bell (B) fft. 138: Rich (B) p. Berry. 145: Wilson (B) fft. 152: Santana (LW) p. Martin, :22. 160: Hernandez (B) p. E. Wersel, :44. 170: Rado (LW) p. Christou, 1:56. 182: Verdote (B) p. Carroll, :37. 195: Smith (B) p. Petro, 3:58. 220: Burney (B) p. S. Wersel, 1:53. 285: Carr (LW) d. Mendon, 5-2.

Columbia 63, Orange Park 18
106: Millard (Col) p. Lopez, 1:00. 113: Dumas (Col) p. Hubbard, :51. 120: I. McGuigan (Col) p. Parks, 1:09. 126: Brashier (Col) d. Mohr, 9-8. 132: Forrester (Col) p. Anderson, 3:12. 138: Davis (Col) p. Wilson, 1:07. 145: Smith (Col) p. Poucher, 1:34. 152: McWhite (OP) p. Stengel. 160: Jordan (OP) p. O’Quinn, :29. 170: Thompson (Col) p. Evans, 1:02. 182: James (Col) p. Rhodes, 1:10. 195: Griffin (Col) p. Garcia, 2:59. 220: Danielson (OP) p. Davidson, :42. 285: Stubblefield (Col) fft.

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