Categories
#NextLevel

#NextLevel: November 27-28

Here’s a summary of #NextLevel activity that took place either on Saturday or today:

Ethan Pickren

Ethan Pickren (South Walton ’19; Arizona State): Was 2-2 at the Cowboy Open in Laramie, WY, on Saturday, competing at 141. Pickren fell in the round of 16 to Chadron State’s Joseph Ritzen, 9-8, but bounced back for two consi-side victories. On that side, Pickren falled Western Wyoming’s Carson Jensen (2:02) and then held off a late rush in the next round behind riding time and two scoring moves early against Wyoming’s Aidan Noonan in a 6-4 decision. Pickren then lost by fall (4:07) in the consi quarters to Chadron State’s Hunter Gilmore.

Drevon Wallace (Palatka ’20; Allen, no photo available from college): Got the start at 141 pounds Sunday for the Yellow Jackets at Limestone, as his team fell, 37-9, to the host Saints. Wallace fell, 10-1, to Limestone’s Brandon Seawright in one of five bonus-point wins that the Saints racked up.

Chris Bono

Chris Bono (Bolles ’92; Wisconsin): Led his 15th-ranked Badgers (4-0 in duals) to a pair of wins Saturday in Newark NJ, overcoming a determined North Carolina effort (there were seven lead changes in the dual) for a 20-16 win, going on to turn back Hofstra, 38-12.

“We love coming to New Jersey to wrestle. There were some great things today, but in the same breath, we have a lot to work on.”

Two lower-ranked UNC wrestlers defeated Badger opponents to turn an 11-10 deficit into a 16-11 lead, but Wisconsin got a decision and pin at 197 and 285 to take the win. The Badgers took seven weight-class wins in the Hofstra dual. Wisconsin is now done in duals until the Big Ten season begins January 7 with Northwestern, but there are four tournaments on the UW itinerary in December.

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Categories
OFFSEASON/PRESEASON

#Seahorse: Alvarado Takes 2 Places

Milton’s Maya Alvarado placed 2nd at 100 lbs and 4th at 108 in the 47th annual Seahorse Open, hosted by Cypress Bay HS on Saturday.

Alvarado was 1-2 against Homestead’s Rebecca Kincade in the 100 weight class, taking the first match in a best-of-3 format, winning, 4-0.

At 108, in a six-wrestler roundrobin, Alvarado was 2-3, with one pin and one win by injury-default.

Locally, Seminole County’s Wolgamuth brothers also made the trip down and placed. Benjamin Wolgamuth was second in the Schoolboy 121-128 division, while Chase Wolgamuth was second in the Novice division for 65-72.

Complete results can be found HERE: SEAHORSE OPEN RESULTS

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SCHEDULES

#TheSchedule2021-22: Arnold

Hey guys!

Schedules for 2021-22 have started to come in. This is always exciting for us.

We have our 94th schedule overall, with the 8th team in 2A-District 1, Arnold, sending in tonight. with the final team in 2A-District 3, Ed White. We now have seven districts complete out of 12 so far, and we have just six schedules left that we need (Wakulla Christian turned in their schedule as well; that program is staying at the JV level in 2021-22).

You can see all of our schedules HERE.

ARNOLD

Duals & dual tournaments:

  • At The Rocky Rumble, 12/18
  • At The Bash, Rutherford physical host, 1/7-8
  • At Rutherford, 1/26

IBTs and roundrobins:

  • At Border Wars IX, South Walton, 12/3-4
  • At Ryan Blackwell IBT, Gulf Breeze, 12/11
  • At Gator Brawl, Wewahitchka, 1/14-15
  • At 3rd Annual George Mulligan Memorial, 1/21-22
  • Hosts Spearfish Invitational, 2/5

FHSAA events:

  • 2A-District 1 Duals, Gulf Breeze, 1/5
  • (if qualifying) 2A-Region 1 duals, District 1 champ to host, 1/13
  • (if qualifying) 2A state duals, 1/21-22
  • Girls District tournament, site TBA, week of 2/7-12
  • 2A-District 1 traditional, Ft Walton Beach, 2/16
  • Girls Region tournament, site TBA, 2/18-19
  • 2A-Region 1 traditional, Chiles/Lincoln, 2/25-26
  • States at Silver Spurs, Kissimmee, 3/3-5
JOIN us on Facebook at North Florida Matmen (you can also friend me on my personal page) or on Twitter at @NorthFLAMatmen, or on Instagram at nflamatmen.
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#NextLevel

#NextLevel: November 23

COLUMBUS, OH — Notre Dame College has been a force in NCAA Division 2 wrestling for many a year now.

But there’s NCAA DII, and then there’s Ohio State.

Tuesday night at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, the Buckeyes were anything but gracious hosts, handing the Falcons a 51-0 dual loss in the dual-season opener for Notre Dame.

For Falcon freshman Cale Hoskinson (Clay ’21; no headshot available from college), competing in prior open tournaments was not the same as a head-to-head dual against the giant of the state and one of the national powers in Division I, as the Buckeyes’ ninth-ranked Carson Kharchla handed Hoskinson a 24-9 tech fall loss in a match that did go a full seven minutes.

Notre Dame College was off through the holiday weekend and will return to competition on December 4 in-state at the Lake Erie Open in Painesville.

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Categories
#TURKEYNWRESTLING

#TurkeyNWrestling2021-22: Hey, Guys, My Bad

Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it really right. Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I get it really wrong. If you were ready to toss your phone or laptop through a window because I either A) ranked you too low or B) ranked you too high in your district, maybe this will set your mind at ease.

Or not. Perhaps only a healthy dose of tryptophan, football and pre-Black Friday shopping will do that (actually, if you can avoid the pre-Black Friday shopping, do; I plan to avoid it by picking up a shingles vaccination at the friendly neighborhood Publix pharmacy as soon as it opens).

Anyway, let’s set the Wayback machine to a year ago today — give or take a day or two — and see how I did with last year’s predictions. Let the laughter ensue! (or not). But first, a little data…gotta have a little stuffing to go with that turkey…

We were 7-for-11 on picking champions last year. This was significantly lower than the previous two years. In each case, the actual champion was projected to finish no lower than third. However, that didn’t keep us from some real clunker picks, particularly in 1A (and we’ll get to those in just a bit).

We were 9-for-11 on picking last-place teams last year. This was a little bit better than last year, which was solidly better than the previous. One miss was small, where the team we picked last was just one away from that spot. But we also did have a swing and a big miss in 3A, and we’ll highlight that in just a bit, too.

So, if I picked your team to win, you should be pleased but not too over-confident. I’m clearly not as good as I once was at picking champs. If I picked your team last, in any of our 11 districts, go get to work, kids.

It’s usually the middle where things get muddled. Two years ago, we had three districts with the top three in order correct; last year, there were two. This year, there were NONE.

If you don’t like where you are projected today, take heart.

Last year, we didn’t think too much of DeLand’s chances. We picked them to finish seventh (last) in 3A-District 2. The Bulldogs not only did not finish last, but also finished very safely in the middle of the pack, 21 points ahead of fifth and SEVENTY THREE AND A HALF ahead of seventh. In fact, DeLand was just 2.5 points — two extra bonus-point wins — short of third. If you’re a little closer to the Panhandle, you can think about Rocky Bayou Christian. For the SECOND TIME IN AS MANY YEARS, some doofus picked the Knights to finish sixth in 1A-District 1. Some doofus thought RBCS wouldn’t rally well from the loss of its top wrestler in 2020. Good thing those kids didn’t read that doofus’s preview a year ago Thanksgiving — or read every word, and clipped-and-saved. In the city of Jacksonville, there’s the case of Englewood, which was tabbed for sixth in 2A-District 3. The Rams, like Rocky Bayou Christian, went on to finish third.

But probably the biggest miss was in 1A-District 3, where a two-team race for the top instead became a four-team race, because Fernandina Beach got tired of mediocrity and pushed for something more, from its best wrestlers down to its least experienced. The Pirates were picked sixth in the district and finished four spots above that prediction, 116 points ahead of sixth and comfortably ahead (36) of third.

The point of walking through those examples?

Where you’re projected today is just that: a projection. And not always a very good one at that. Old Matmen really don’t know everything. Some days, he don’t know anything.

So. Dig in, not too much, to your dinners today. While you don’t have competition until next week, I’m sure you’ll have practice at some point soon, and you don’t want a full belly. Leave that to us old folks. I’ll see you on the mats soon enough.

1A-District 1:

Predicted: 1. South Walton. 2. Rutherford. 3. Arnold. 4. North Bay Haven. 5. Bozeman. 6. Rocky Bayou Christian. 7. Bay. 8. Wewahitchka.
Actual: 1. South Walton. 2. Rutherford. 3. Rocky Bayou Christian. 4. Arnold. 5. Bay. 6. North Bay Haven. 7. Wewahitchka. 8. Bozeman.
Analysis: We did get the top two teams correct in this district, but — for the second straight year — picked the Knights to finish sixth, only to have them reject that premise in favor of something much better. We had North Bay Haven’s sizable but a bit inexperienced room over-valued early (and had we known about the Bucs’ stellar freshman, we might have had NBH pushing Arnold very hard for third). I think we underestimated Bay somewhat, as well. Some of their kids made some solid moves, and that makes me wonder if they won’t do it again, particularly with a more-aggressive offseason presence generally in the Panhandle.

1A-District 2:

Predicted: 1. Wakulla. 2. Suwannee. 3. Florida High. 4. Marianna. 5. Baker County. 6. Godby.
Actual: 1. Wakulla. 2. Florida High. 3. Baker County. 4. Suwannee. 5. Marianna. 6. Godby.
Analysis: OK, so we got the bookends correct. That might have been seen as the easy part. While just 16 points separated second from fourth, we did not expect Baker’s big move — aside from Fernandina Beach, the Wildcats were probably the most egregious whoops we made in last year’s predictions. This became apparent at regions, where the power of District 2 seems to become even larger. I would not have expected Suwannee to finish fourth with the group they had last year, so not only should kudos go to Baker County, but also the runnerup Seminoles. We did think Marianna would have more kids back than they did wind up attracting; the Bulldogs had had a larger set of returners coming back. Injury played a small role here, too.

1A-District 3:

Predicted: 1. Yulee. 2. Bishop Kenny. 3. West Nassau. 4. Raines. 5. Episcopal. 6. Fernandina Beach. 7. Paxon. 8. Ed White.
Actual: 1. Yulee. 2. Fernandina Beach. 3. Episcopal. 4. Bishop Kenny. 5. Raines. 6. West Nassau. 7. Ed White. 8. Paxon.
Analysis: We’ve written on Fernandina Beach’s rise; what made it happen was the increased sense of purpose and intensity up and down the lineup, whereas prior seasons had seen the Pirates rely on a couple of wrestlers here and there. You don’t always see that until it shows up. We also did not expect Episcopal’s rise in level from such a young lineup, but the Eagles, too, showed a team spirit that hadn’t been present in previous teams to the same extent. A couple of teams didn’t meet expectations in the moment, but, again, as we’ve seen in other districts, injuries played a sizable role in that.

1A-District 4:

Predicted: 1. Clay. 2. Bolles. 3. Ridgeview. 4. Union County. 5. Wolfson. 6. University Christian. 7. Bishop Snyder. 8. Baldwin. 9. Bradford.
Actual: 1. Clay. 2. Union County. 3. Ridgeview. 4. Bolles. 5. University Christian. 6. Wolfson. 7. Bishop Snyder. 8. Baldwin. (Bradford didn’t compete)
Analysis: We knew Union County had the chance to have good numbers last year; after all, they’d had the largest first-year program roster I’ve experienced in my covering north Florida. We just didn’t think those numbers would translate into success quite so soon. And while Bolles had some exceptionally-solid kids, there were a few that I expected would get out to regions that did not. Sometimes, on the day, things don’t happen. That was a bit of the case with Wolfson as well; the Wolfpack were outpointed by UCS’ three stars in ways that surprised a little bit. Otherwise, we largely had this one.

1A-District 5:

Predicted: 1. Atlantic. 2. Palatka. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Keystone Heights. 5. Lake Weir.
Actual: 1. Palatka. 2. Pedro Menendez. 3. Atlantic. 4. Keystone Heights. 5. Lake Weir.
Analysis: We thought that the Sharks’ returners would see them through to another double-title situation last year, but the group that returned was smaller than we had thought, due to some transfers, and some of the kids that performed well in 2019-20 couldn’t quite duplicate that performance last year. Given that, the rest of our analysis was pretty sound — and, for the most part, pretty predictable.

2A-District 1:

Predicted: 1. Pace. 2. Gulf Breeze. 3. Ft Walton Beach. 4. Tate. 5. Niceville. 6. Choctaw. 7. Crestview. 8. Milton.
Actual: 1. Ft Walton Beach. 2. Gulf Breeze. 3. Pace. 4. Niceville. 5. Crestview. 6. Choctaw. 7. Tate. 8. Milton.
Analysis: Taking duals into account, our predictions were not too terrible, as Pace was the team to advance out and become the first Panhandle team to get to the first day of state duals. Without going back into specificly what was said, I would have to think that the space between the top three teams was not too great (Editor’s Note: we went back and we said the path was not as easy). The only other part that we really missed on was thinking that last year’s Tate group would finish higher than the Aggies did. I also thought the gap between Choctaw and Crestview (or as it turned out, Crestview & Choctaw) would be a smaller one.

2A-District 2:

Predicted: 1. Lincoln. 2. Columbia. 3. Mosley. 4. Chiles. 5. Middleburg. 6. Orange Park. 7. Leon. 8. Gainesville.
Actual: 1. Lincoln. 2. Columbia. 3. Middleburg. 4. Mosley. 5. Chiles. 6. Orange Park. 7. Leon. 8. Gainesville.
Analysis: Working from the bigger schools down, this was the most sound prediction I’ve had thus far, with only Middleburg’s surge into third place — despite missing a few weights up top — the only thing we really we had no predicted answer for. The top of the group fell into place as expected, and, other than the Broncos pushing up to third (they were only one point short of a T-2nd finish with Columbia), so did the rest of the group. Given that Chiles wound up with the highest state finish, the way the top five teams broke down last year showed how strong the district already was…pre-Fleming Island.

2A-District 3:

Predicted: 1. Fletcher. 2. Ponte Vedra. 3. Westside. 4. Riverside*. 5. First Coast. 6. Englewood. 7. Terry Parker. 8. Stanton.
Actual: 1. Fletcher. 2. Ponte Vedra. 3. Englewood. 4. Riverside. 5. First Coast. 6. Westside. 7. Terry Parker. 8. Stanton.
Analysis: What we essentially got wrong was the placement of Englewood and Westside. Englewood just did more with its people a year ago, and Westside — which we have typically gotten wrong on the placement no matter where we predict them — last year did not overall as a group (injury had something to do with that in a couple of key instances. Otherwise, we largely had this district spot-on, with the 1-2, 4-5 and 7-8 all correct.
* — using the school name as it is this year

2A-District 4:

Predicted: 1. Seabreeze. 2. St Augustine. 3. New Smyrna Beach. 4. Matanzas. 5. Belleview. 6. Deltona. 7. Mainland.
Actual: 1. New Smyrna Beach. 2. St Augustine. 3. Matanzas. 4. Belleview. 5. Seabreeze. 6. Deltona. 7. Mainland.
Analysis: What we really missed on was Seabreeze and where the Sandcrabs were going to finish after seeing them win their first district wrestling title (duals) in January 2020. Things never clicked like that again at Seabreeze all of the following season. We thought, a year ago, that New Smyrna Beach was still a year away yet, but they had some key transfers that really helped the group, as well as a dynamite lower weight group that was just as capable as the Barracudas’ middles and uppers. Otherwise, we mostly had a handle on things, although we were definitely surprised how much closer Matanzas was to the top.

3A-District 1:

Predicted: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Oakleaf. 3. Creekside. 4. Bartram Trail. 5. Nease. 6. Mandarin. 7. Sandalwood. 8. Atlantic Coast.
Actual: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Creekside. 3. Oakleaf. 4. Mandarin. 5. Bartram Trail. 6. Nease. 7. Sandalwood. 8. Atlantic Coast.
Analysis: For the most part, we had 1-3 correct — the battle between Creekside and Oakleaf at districts was very, very close at this district last year. We also had the 7-8 right, although we certainly could not have predicted that despite finishing seventh at districts, the Saints would have such a solid state finish. The team we had very little handle on was Mandarin. They had a couple of new kids that made them far more capable than we would have projected. This year, they’re not going to sneak up on anybody. We did actually have the right three teams 4-6, just in a different order that I would not have guessed.

3A-District 2:

Predicted: 1. Flagler Palm Coast. 2. Buchholz. 3. University (Orange City). 4. Forest. 5. West Port. 6. Seminole. 7. DeLand.
Actual: 1. Buchholz. 2. Flagler Palm Coast. 3. University (Orange City). 4. DeLand. 5. Seminole. 6. West Port. 7. Forest.
Analysis: We had a better handle, on the whole, on this district this year, and we were convinced that last year was Flagler’s year. We didn’t see that there would be three weights open all year and that a few of the other weights would be in flux for much longer. However, that didn’t stop us from putting FPCHS back at the top again this season. We also didn’t have much of a handle on DeLand last year; the Bulldogs clearly over-performed our expectations, at least at the district levels.

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#TURKEYNWRESTLING

#TurkeyNWrestling2021-22: 1A-District 2

The battle for supremacy in 1A-District 2 has been a foregone conclusion in previous seasons. This year, however, the battle for top honors could very well come down to which one of 1A-Region 1’s strongest teams, out of its strongest district (at least at the top), can fill out a complete lineup.

We’re tabbing Wakulla’s experience in making this happen in prior seasons, with the War Eagles defending a run of 11 straight district IBT titles and four consecutive district dual championships as well. The War Eagles won their third straight Region 1 duals title as well, with a runnerup finish in the region IBT and 14th-place finish at states.

But the May graduation loss the War Eagles sustained is a heavy one, with seven graduates gone from this year’s team. Six of those seven made the region tournament (the 7th would have as well, were it not for injury) and five got out to state, led by Kissimmee medalist and region champ Raymond Hatchman (5th at 120 in 1A).

Wakulla does bring back 11 wrestlers that saw significant time last year, but a few in that group were backups last year, battling last year’s seniors in the practice room. Wakulla has eight 2021 post-season starters back, with all of them reaching the region tournament. Three War Eagles — seniors Isaiah Wilson (6th at states at 126), Julian Harvey (106 in March) and Hayden Reeves (145) — all qualified for states.

But Suwannee will make it a fight. Expect that. The Bulldogs will want to rally from a 2021 post-season start that saw them finish second in duals (but not compete in the region round) and finish fourth at district IBTs. However, the “familiar” Suwannee rush was put on at the region tournament, where the Bulldogs were fourth, going on to finish 17th at states.

A graduating class of four May graduates that all were 2021 or prior state qualifiers will be difficult to overcome. That group included March Kissimmee medalist Timothy Jolicoeur (5th at 126).

But the Bulldogs do have as many as 10 projected key returners, seven of them post-season starters that all reached the region tournament. Four of them would go on to states, led by sophomore 1A medalist Austin McKinney (6th at 113). Senior Tyson Musgrove (138 in March), junior Austin Howard (152) and sophomore Topher Pearson (106) also all were Kissimmee qualifiers and will be threats to podium.

Florida High will not be finishing any lower than third in the district this year, but whether the Seminoles can reach for second (or first) might have depended on how much off-season work the returning group did as a whole, following a district runnerup IBT finish, a T-5th at regions and a T-15th at states.

Only Wakulla’s graduation class is larger than Florida High’s, which included five May graduates, region qualifiers all. 2021 Seminole grads Tyler Reeve (region champ & state runnerup at 126) and Emil Ganim (6th at 1A-138) both medaled at Kissimmee and fellow grad Micah Perdue was a region champ (at 195).

The Seminoles’ group of as many as 12 projected key returners is the biggest, numbers-wise, in the district, but with just seven post-season starters, there’s a lot of returning depth that needs to make a jump to becoming the stars they’ve seen in the FSUS lineup. All seven did get to regions, with sophomore Xander Hawkes (160 a year ago) qualifying out for state in March.

Marianna is right now the default choice for fourth, but the Bulldogs can’t rest on that default position. They should be better than a year ago, when four of their six potential returners didn’t compete in the post-season at all or didn’t compete after districts for a variety of reasons.

Marianna does have three returning region qualifiers, one a 2020 state qualifer in senior Ethan Heinemann, who was hurt at districts. The Bulldogs also have no graduation losses to overcome.

Liberty County is the newest team in the district — in fact the region — and is the biggest question mark of the bottom four in the district, but the questions are positives. With two region qualifiers coming over via transfer, the Bulldogs (yes, there are three schools in the district with that nickname) can lay a base down from which to get more kids out. There’s a strong chance that Liberty County could have state representation in its first year.

Of the teams lacking massive amounts of numbers, Godby’s the one with the most experienced “traditional” program history, but the Cougars have to be able to build on more than one projected key returner, which is what they have back for this season. Being in-town, with a coach inside the building and perhaps able to pull some football kids in, could help the Cougars kick-start things this year.

We learned earlier this week that Graceville, which competed independently last year starting in January, would not be fielding a team this year, which is unfortunate for the two kids that lost their sport.

Projected finish: 1. Wakulla. 2. Suwannee. 3. Florida High. 4. Marianna. 5. Liberty County. 6. Godby.

CAPSULES HERE: 1A-DISTRICT 2 CAPSULES

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#TURKEYNWRESTLING

#TurkeyNWrestling2021-22: 1A-District 6, Independents

We aren’t previewing 1A-District 6, as we are only covering a portion of the teams in it this year. We may add more of the district if coaches in that district see our coverage of Deltona & Pine Ridge and decide they want in.

Both the Wolves and Panthers are dropping down a classification, from 2A to 1A, as a result of the FHSAA’s reclassification effort in the spring. While the coaching staff has recollection of Deltona’s last appearance in 1A — the 2014-15 season — the current crop of Wolves does not.

The team lost just one May graduate earlier in the year, but it was one of the team’s top competitors over the last three years, so from a leadership standpoint, it’s a loss.

But the Wolves could bring back as many as 11 returning wrestlers from last year’s group, and that kind of experience could be useful in helping Deltona make a run toward a region dual series appearance. Nine of those 11 Wolves were post-season starters last year, with four reaching the region tournament. Junior Kevin Kerns (120 last year) will lead this year’s group on the mats as a two-time Kissimmee 2A state qualifier.

After a one-year hiatus due to Covid, Pine Ridge is returning to competitive wrestling for the 2021-22 season. The Panthers were 3-13 in duals two seasons ago and were at a point where numbers were looking to be few.

But, in a new classification with a new coach and, essentially, an entirely new team, while the outlook might be fairly rough at the start, Pine Ridge could start laying the groundwork for a place where it’s competitive with some of its in-county rival programs.

We as a coverage area lost two independent programs and gained one last year. The one that remained from last year to this is Ribault.

With a new coach this year, one steeped in the history of the Trojans’ decades-ago history, Ribault begins its second year once again as an independent, having lost none to graduation and returning as many as four key returners from last year’s restart. It’s a starting point, to be sure, but also a start.

That’s what Wakulla Christian is looking forward to in its first year of experience this coming season. Located in a county loaded with wrestling ability and one of the pillars of Florida small-school wrestling tradition mere miles away, the Saints take their first steps into a new world this season, under the direction of a former FHSAA 1A state champion.

CAPSULES HERE: 1A-DISTRICT 6 CAPSULES & INDEP CAPSULES

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#TurkeyNWrestling2021-22: 3A-District 2

The race for the Region 1 title could very go through District 2 this year. And last year’s top two teams, Buchholz and Flagler Palm Coast, are poised once again to return to the top of the heap; only, this year, the fight for first might not only be for district but region honors as well.

We’re looking toward the Bulldogs, who ran second in both dual and traditional District 2 events last year, with a fourth at Region 1 and T-15th at states — the top finish in Kissimmee last year among District 2 teams. With one caveat, FPCHS is best-positioned in 2021-22.

After all, the Bulldogs had no graduation losses to overcome this past year. The biggest difficulty — here comes the caveat — that Flagler Palm Coast had a year ago was sorting out its lineup, which had three weights missing throughout the year and had several pieces that were in and out as the season waxed and waned. That caused some problems in duals.

But as things stand now, the Bulldogs have six returning state qualifiers back, led by senior returning medalists Blane DeFord (4th at 160, 3rd in 2020) and Bryce Dodge (5th at 170).

DeFord and Dodge headline a group of Kissimmee 2021 qualifiers that include seniors Timothy King (152 last year) and Marcelo Gonzalez (182), plus juniors Kole Hannant (113 in 2020-21) and John Hald (120), plus a former state qualifier (2019-20) in senior Kyle Peacock. In all, the Bulldogs can call upon up to 16 key returners, 13 of whom had current or prior Region 1 experience.

But maybe it’s too soon to put Buchholz in the runnerup spot; after all, that happened last year, and the Bobcats went on to sweep the district titles, taking third at Region 1 as well.

Buchholz also has a sizable group back, with up to 14 potential key returners back, and all their weights are or probably could be covered with returning talent. Ten of those 14 had Region 1 exposure last year, and four — seniors Venumadhava Mirel (126 last year) and Aiden Moore (145), junior Kason Nichols (160 last year) and sophomore Cavarius Liddie (106) — got to states.

However, the Bobcats do have a sizable if not insurmountable graduation loss to overcome, with four May graduates — all four with with region experience and two state qualifiers — that do have to be replaced. The returners, though, may be able to fill in the gaps.

DeLand finished 2020-21 third in duals and fourth in the traditional District 2 event, and while the Bulldogs are not projected to move up, that’s a function more of the level that the top 2 teams might have reached. DeLand lost only four to graduation in May, three of those part-time starters and the fourth having region experience.

Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have a larger group incoming, with as many as 16 possible key returners coming back. Four of those 16 didn’t compete at all in the traditional series, and another five didn’t compete in Region 1 after qualifying out; only two region qualifiers had matches at Flagler Palm Coast. But, with all that decent depth, DeLand won’t be a pushover in the district.

Newcomer to the district Lake Mary has moved over from District 3, where the Rams were third in both duals and traditional format, going on to finish sixth at Region 1 and 14th at state. But. This is a new year, and Lake Mary had one of the largest graduation losses in the region. The Rams had 10 key competitors move on, nine via graduation, including state medalists Jared Purcell (3rd at 160, Region 1 champ), Alex Vazquez (5th at 152, Region 1 champ), plus two additional state qualifiers and girls’ state medalist Farida Marcidno (4th at HWT).

Lake Mary can bring back as many as four key returners from last year’s team, just two with Region 1 experience, and while there’s a solid youth program in Seminole County that brings the Rams new blood each year, the lack of returning experience just doesn’t allow us to project higher than a midpack finish, and there’s at least one team in the district that will challenge even that.

Forest is under new management this year, with a couple of the Wildcats engaging in extensive off-season competition. Their graduation loss was not too severe, with just two May graduates, neither of which reached the region round of competition. As things stand, the Wildcats could welcome back as many as nine key competitors, but only two had Region 1 experience (and those two engaged in the most offseason action).

University (Orange City) is also under a new head coach this year, and the Titans have to rebuild from a solid graduation loss (five May grads, including three District 2 champs and one state qualifier). On the boys’ side, UOC has seven key returners back, but only two with Region 1 experience. On the girls’ side, the Lady Titans are going to push hard to return to the top 10, with five state competitors, two of them medalists in Katie Roche and Trinity Evans (T-6th at 106 & 172, respectively.

Seminole and West Port are still works in progress under second-year coaches (at least, at their respective schools). The Noles graduated five key seniors in May, including girls’ state medalist Valerie Vega-Castillo (3rd at 197), and have as many as eight key returners back, six with Region 1 experience, along with a returning girls’ state medalist in junior Brianna Pena (5th at 117). West Port’s graduation loss was less, just one May graduate with Region 1 experience, but the Wolfpack also could bring back eight with post-season experience. However, just two of those eight won matches at Region 1.

Projected finish: 1. Flagler Palm Coast. 2. Buchholz. 3. DeLand. 4. Lake Mary. 5. Forest. 6. University (Orange City). 7. Seminole. 8. West Port.

CAPSULES HERE: 3A-DISTRICT 2 CAPSULES

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#TurkeyNWrestling2021-22: 3A-District 3

When we add new territory to cover, even when we have a passing familiarity to it, getting ready to make predictions about it becomes a nervy enterprise.

Such is the case in 3A-District 3, one of our two new districts this year, but at least the top of the heap in this year’s configuration are familiar to our site if not necessarily all of our readers. This year’s District 3 chase again appears to boil down to a two-way race between 2021 duals champ Hagerty and traditional champ Timber Creek.

We’re tapping the Huskies to return fully to the top spot in the district, and be one of the top three teams — at least — in the region race as well.

As classifications currently stand, Hagerty’s the only team in 3A-Region 1 to make more than one appearance in the region duals final, with appearances in 2019 and 2020, plus a district duals title last year. The Huskies then were second in both District 4 and Region 1 competition, and were the top Region 1 team in 3A at the state tournament, finishing eighth as a group.

True, Hagerty does have a graduation loss to overcome that includes 3 girls’ state competitors (tops among them Brooke White, who was fifth at 154). And even harder to overcome might be the graduation losses of bigs Ethan Lopez (182 last year) and Bertilus Bornelus (220), both of whom were state runners-up in March.

But otherwise, what the Huskies lost to graduation was depth. And they’ve got plenty of that back, with up to 16 potential key returners for this year. That includes a boys’ group with 10 post-season starters, nine with Region 1 experience and including 3A state qualifiers Kamdon Harrison (junior, 3rd at 138 last year), Blake Watts (senior, 152 last year) and Ethan Gomez (senior, 170 last year). It also includes four girls with returning state experience, led by 2021 state champion and senior Jada Llamido (134 last year).

As for Timber Creek, the Wolfpack got to the Region 1 duals final last year, overcoming a district loss to Hagerty along the way, and then took the District 4 IBT title, finishing fifth at Region 1 and T-15th at 3A states.

The graduation loss from that group was heavy, as eight seniors moved on in May, seven with Region 1 experience and two with state experience on the boys’ side, including 2021 Kissimmee medalist Jayden Tapia (3rd at 132). Girls’ state medalist Giovanna Diaz (5th at 140 last year) also has graduated.

But the cupboard is not bare by a long shot, as Timber Creek can bring back as many as 12 key returners, five with region-tournament appearances last year. Senior Trenton Dominguez (6th at 3A state 106) headlines that group, and fellow senior Bailey Waltz (girls’ state 4th at 122) will look for another deep tournament run herself in February and March.

I’m looking at Winter Park as the likeliest for third. Star power’s the biggest reason, as the Wildcats return as many as 10 key returners, fueled mainly by senior and defending state champion Joe Gonzalez (unbeaten at 145 last year), along with fellow Kissimmee qualifier James Gonzalez (sophomore, 120 last year, where he won the Region 1 title).

Graduation losses didn’t hurt Winter Park too badly, although the Wildcats did lose two regular-season starters, including one 2021 state qualifier.

Returning numbers are Oviedo’s friend as the Lions enter the season, even after losing three multi-year starters via graduation, including departed state medalist Marcus Patrick (5th in Kissimmee at 145 in 2020-21).

Oviedo can look to as many as 11 key returners from last year’s group, with three holding region-tournament experience. The Lady Lions have a nice cadre coming back as well, with three girls’ state competitors back, two of them taking three wins in their respective weights.

I’m looking at Lyman as the potential surprise team in the district, a team that could finish anywhere from seventh to maybe even third, with an influx of talented new blood. That started in the offseason, with transfers coming in to join a group of up to five key returners. That group numbered two Region 1 competitors from last year; the transfers doubled that amount, so the Greyhounds are potentially a team on the move up.

Lake Howell isn’t all that far off from finishing in the top half, but the Silver Hawks have to build back some numbers after losing five starters via graduation or transfer, and overcome a recent history where they’ve finished seventh or eighth in the district IBT round. They do have up to six key returners back, four with Region 1 experience.

Numbers are going to be the biggest need for both Lake Brantley and University (Orlando) this year. The Patriots were District 4 runnerups a year ago, but did not get a wrestler to states; graduation hit Lake Brantley pretty hard, as it lost six regular-season starters, plus this year’s returning group had just one victory at Region 1 last year. University (Orlando) has all of its post-season starters back on the boys’ side, but just one got to the region round; the Cougars’ girls cadre was hit hard by graduation, with half moving on in May, but University does have two girls who wrestled at state back.

Projected finish: 1. Hagerty. 2. Timber Creek. 3. Winter Park. 4. Oviedo. 5. Lyman. 6. Lake Howell. 7. Lake Brantley. 8. University (Orlando).

CAPSULES HERE: 3A-DISTRICT 3 CAPSULES

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#TurkeyNWrestling2021-22: 2A-District 3

New coach. Most likely, same result.

In 2A-District 3, ever since coming into the district in fall 2020, Fletcher has dominated the scene, with double titles each of the past two years.

Expect that to occur once again in 2022, even after losing a quartet of May graduates that were iconic as a group, all state qualifiers and district champions in 2021, and including medalists Ana Bradshaw (5th at 106 at girls’ state), Ethan Hollenbach (5th at 220 in March) and Joel Rodriguez (6th at 152).

The Senators still return the most-experienced boys’ group from last year, with 11 projected key returners, nine of them post-season starters (and all nine of those 2A-Region 1 qualifiers). Leading that group is the district’s only returning boys’ state qualifier in junior Ryan Klein (182 last year).

Taking into account the entire group, Ponte Vedra has by far the largest group of returners in the district, with 23 key returners back.

On the boys’ side, 12 strong potentially could come back, with nine that were post-season starters and six reaching the region round. The Sharks lost four May graduates (all on the boys’ side), with all four reaching regions and one qualifying to state. However, none got past the first day.

As for the Lady Sharks, they lost no one to graduation from last year’s team, which finished sixth at girls’ state, and should be in line for at least that level of finish again this year. Ponte Vedra could have as many as 11 back, all of whom competed at girls’ state, with junior podium finishers Olivia Richie (runnerup at 128) and Josie Sagasser (3rd at 134) leading the charge.

We have Westside in the top three, and it seems that we rank the Wolverines higher than they finish, but it seems to feel right to put them third this year. Westside lost just one May graduate from last year’s group, but it was a big loss in Ray Bolden, the Wolverines’ only district champ, only region champ, and a third at states in March.

The Wolverines could have as many as nine wrestlers back from last year, all but one (and that one due to early injury) wrestling in the post-season. Five of those nine did get to the region round.

Terry Parker is a team that could be building toward a top-half move after years of struggle. The Braves lost just two May graduates, one of them a region qualifier but didn’t compete.

Coming back is a group of as many as eight returners for the Braves. Keeping them through the post-season will be key, as only six made it a year ago, and just three of those six to regions, with one returner getting to day 2.

Englewood is an open question, with a staff being hired just a few days before practice was set to begin. Englewood lost one of its two district champs and two Saturday region qualifiers to graduation. The Rams have a possibility for eight returners from a year ago, but only five were post-season starters and four competed in the region round. They’ve got a decent middle part of the lineup sorted; if they can find consistent performance in the lower portion, they could be a top-half threat.

While Riverside is operating under a new name, the Generals usually haven’t had trouble finding talent since the site began. That will be put to the test this year after the Generals sustained the biggest graduation loss in the district, with six May graduates (five with region experience in February), led by 2x 2A state medalist Ahmahd Denmark (2nd in 2020, 3rd last year at 160). This year’s Riverside group could have as many as four returners, but only one competed at regions.

There’s always a chance that both Stanton or Ed White could, with an injection of new blood into the lineup, make a run for a district mid-pack finish, but numbers just might make that too difficult. The Blue Devils could have as many four returners from last year’s team, after losing two May graduates, but had just one wrestler with two wins at districts and none at the region level. The Commanders lost two and could return two from a year ago, with one wrestler getting to Saturday at regions, but the numbers needs both teams face are critical.

Projected finish: 1. Fletcher. 2. Ponte Vedra. 3. Westside. 4. Terry Parker. 5. Englewood. 6. Riverside. 7. Stanton. 8. Ed White.

CAPSULES HERE: 2A-DISTRICT 3 CAPSULES

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