3A-District 1 preview
When & where: Saturday at Flagler Palm Coast High School. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m., per the FHSAA website finals are scheduled for 6 p.m.
Directions: From Jacksonville, take I-95 southbound to exit 284 for Florida 100(Bunnell/Flagler Beach/Old 91). Turn right on to Florida 100 westbound, which is East Moody Boulevard. Proceed 1.4 miles, the school is on the right-hand side of the road off Highway 100.
Team preview: Everyone in north and central Florida spent the entire season trying to run down the #1 Bulldogs, without success, and I think Saturday is going to be more of the same. The question is not if Palm Coast will win the district title, the question is how many brackets will the Bulldogs walk away with (I set the over/under at seven, and I took the over) and how large will the margin of victory be? Find out with the individual summaries at each weight. I’d look at #1 Palm Coast as the overwhelming favorite for first, #3 Fleming Island as the solid choice for second, but certainly #9 Sandalwood and #10 Buchholz have made up a sizable amount of ground against the Golden Eagles. Fletcher, Mandarin and First Coast should be contending for team spaces 5-7, and I thought Atlantic Coast had the possibility of being in that mix, too, but it seems like the season kind of wore on the Stingrays. Note that my unofficial records are just that, unofficial, and not all of them are 100% complete. I am missing one dual for Mandarin.
Projected competitors in school order (with unoffficial Matmen records) — Marco Hunter (Atlantic Coast, 11-21), Leon Cruz (First Coast, 20-20), Albie Snedaker (Fleming Island, 12-8), Trent Dallldorf (Fletcher, 26-12), James Knox (Mandarin, 17-8), Zac Branning (Palm Coast, 38-3), Alex Barie (Sandalwood, 26-10). No 106 for Buchholz.
Projected finish: 1. Branning. 2. Barie. 3. Dalldorf. 4. Snedaker.
The skinny: With 30 match wins in a row, Branning (3rd locally, 10th statewide) has been on fire after, by comparison, a slow start to the season. Since losing to Riverdale’s James Monos at Lyman back in late December, not only has Branning not lost, he hasn’t even been pushed all that hard. He’s got pins in hand against Cruz, Hunter, Snedaker and Dalldorf. He hasn’t seen Barie (6th locally) yet, only because Palm Coast and Sandalwood just haven’t crossed paths all that often this season. Among the rest of the group, Barie holds the upper hand, with a major decision in hand against Dalldorf, who’s been area-ranked during the course of the season, and quick falls over Knox and Hunter. Dalldorf did lose to Snedaker during the regular season, 8-6, but I feel his tournament experience will become useful this weekend. I would have liked to see where Snedaker would be if he’d had a full season this year, as he didn’t appear in the Golden Eagles’ varsity lineup until Uncivil Part I. I would give him the nod over Knox, at this point, but Knox has proven himself capable and would certainly be a quality dark horse candidate for a top-four slot.
Projected competitors in school order — Andrique Broughton (Buchholz, 24-17), Chase Robison (Fleming Island, 18-3), Brandon Cuevas (Fletcher, 19-11), probably Chase Mattox (Mandarin, 19-5), Avery Holder (Palm Coast, 36-7), Jacques Hale (Sandalwood, 22-10).
Projected finish: 1. Robison. 2. Holder. 3. Hale. 4. Mattox.
The skinny: The big question will be how the long layoff of six weeks has affected Robison (1st locally, 4th statewide), who returns to the Fleming lineup for the first time since Uncivil Part I. Robison’s only losses to this year are to wrestlers directly ahead of him in the rankings — South Dade’s Olson Delisca (and Robison has, in turn, a win over him) and Southridge’s Christian Delgado. I’m thinking that knowing it’s his last shot at the top of the podium ought to be all the incentive he’ll need to go out and take care of business over the next couple of weeks or so. In a way, the matchup he’ll have with Palm Coast’s Holder in the final — and I am not sure anyone else can get to that final — is going to be a passing of the torch of sorts, in that Holder (T-4th locally) is close enough to him to make things interesting. It won’t be a walkover to the district title for Robison, as his earlier district wins were as a freshman and sophomore. I think Holder has the upper hand over Sandalwood’s Hale, who has also gone six minutes with Robison and held him to a straight decision, although Robison controlled the pace throughout the match. Hale’s a two-time Gateway Conference champion, though, and is just as capable of competing in big matches. I’m really not sure what weight Mattox is going to go at, as he’s shown some effectiveness and gotten some quality wins when he’s bumped up in weight. Plus there’s the possibility of Broughton being a dark horse for the top four.
Projected competitors in school order: possibly Aubrey Wilson (Atlantic Coast, 7-4); Gant Moore (Buchholz, 31-14); Erik Sirmans (First Coast, 44-3); Xaiver Sampsel (Fleming Island, 34-8); Lucas Lusk (Fletcher, 5-9); Luis Colbert-Santana (Mandarin, 12-11); Alfred Shavers (Palm Coast, 38-1); Cameron Vogel (Sandalwood, 4-15).
Projected finish: 1. Shavers. 2. Sampsel. 3. Moore. 4. Sirmans.
The skinny: Shavers (#1 locally and statewide) showed he had the chops to win a state championship when he knocked off 3A defending champion Brandon Staley of Winter Springs earlier in the season, avenging an earlier loss, and the path to that state championship starts this weekend at home. To boot, the 120 bracket should offer Shavers some real tests right from the beginning of the venture, and that should only prove helpful. With a podium threat right in the backyard in Fleming’s Sampsel (#2 locally, 5th statewide), there’s no time to go slack. Shavers beat Sampsel 3-1 in their earlier matchup, and I wouldn’t expect anything but a similar type of matchup when they meet in the finals here. meanwhile, Sampsel takes another step forward in his development. He’s proven he can hang with the state’s best, and nobody ought to scare him now. In Moore (4th locally) and Sirmans (6th locally), there’s quality depth in the bracket. It’s not often that you’ll see a wrestler with 45+ wins projected to finish fourth in a bracket outside of state, but that’s how good this weight class in this district is. Despite the disparities in records, I think Moore would have the upper hand in the third-place match. With all of the firepower in the top four, I don’t think there’s much of a chance for a darkhorse in this bracket.
Projected competitors in school order: Nacierre Williams (Atlantic Coast, 21-8); Tommy Howell (Buchholz, 28-8); Joshua Davis (First Coast, 33-8); Tracy Davis (Fleming Island, 34-12); Oren Punnett (Fletcher, 9-11); Tanner Brown (Mandarin, 23-10); Michael DeAugustino (Palm Coast, 37-7); Hayden Raulerson/Olugbek Delawar (Sandalwood, 20-13/15-9).
Projected finish: 1. DeAugustino. 2. T. Davis. 3. Howell. 4. Sandalwood.
The skinny: On the other hand, this bracket might have some chances for dark horses to emerge, particularly outside of the final anyway, where I would project a rematch between DeAugustino (currently 5th locally, 7th statewide) and Tracy Davis (4th locally, 12th statewide). Davis got the first win between the pair, but DeAugustino found a way to avenge that earlier loss. Against solid, experienced wrestlers, it’s been DeAugustino who shows a patience beyond his years as a freshman wrestler, and that patience should pay off for him on Saturday. He has wins in hand over Joshua Davis and Williams, and I think he’s going to be able to make his way to the top of the podium here. Tracy Davis has the edge over Howell (7th locally), with a 12-7 decision in hand over the Buchholz wrestler, and Davis also should have the upper hand over the rest of the field as well. Of the non-state ranked wrestlers, Howell should be the best of the rest of the competing group, although there are a lot of possibilities out there, as the Sandalwood representative will have seen bigger competition, and Williams, Joshua Davis and Brown also have put together good resumes. With potentially seven wrestlers having 20+ wins coming into the day, there will be several kids leaving the Palm Coast area disappointed Saturday night.
Projected competitors in school order: possibly Julian Rowe (Atlantic Coast, 2-19); Daniel McNeil (Buchholz, 29-5); Shannon Taylor (First Coast, 23-9); Brysen Allen (Fleming Island, 28-8); Jake Loizos (Fletcher, 9-2); Jacob Cunningham (Mandarin, 9-11); Evyn Insalaco (Palm Coast, 39-4); Cameron Bell (Sandalwood, 15-7).
Projected finish: 1. Insalaco. 2. McNeil. 3. Allen. 4. Loizos.
The skinny: While there is definitely some very solid talent in this weight class (four of the area’s top-five kids in this weight should move on), the solidest in the bracket is definitely Insalaco (#1 locally, #4 statewide), who’s got a major in hand over McNeil (3rd locally, 15th statewide) and a fall over Allen (4th locally). Insalaco has won 18 straight matches since losing by major to 3A #2 Grant Aronoff of St. Thomas Aquinas, and has been impressive throughout the year. I look for McNeil to make the final, though there could be the potential for some really solid semifinals, since McNeil and Allen had a 4-2 match at Lyman, with McNeil coming out on top, and Loizos — assuming most likely that he’ll be the Senators’ rep at this weight — is a four-time Gateway Conference champion. That will make it very difficult for otherwise-potential dark horses like Taylor and Bell, who’ll have a couple more shots at this, to advance out. Because he’s had so few matches this season, Loizos is the wildcard of the group. It wouldn’t surprise if he was anywhere from second to fourth, but given that he had only one contested match at Flagler Duals, as well as a pair of forfeits, and nothing else since Gateway, it might not surprise if he didn’t wrestle.
Projected competitors in school order: Alex Insixiengmay (Atlantic Coast, 8-16); Rhett Rutledge (Buchholz, 25-16); Leonard Bingham (First Coast, 38-5); David Detwiler (Fleming Island, 30-4); Nick Hobday (Fletcher, 26-8); Derek Elian/Nathan Tomfohrde (Mandarin, 12-6/18-10); Tariq Johnson (Palm Coast, 28-11); Blake Delapaz (Sandalwood, 20-15).
Projected finish: 1. Detwiler. 2. Johnson. 3. Hobday. 4. Bingham.
The skinny: Have to go with Detwiler (2nd locally, 4th statewide) as the favorite. Since entering the lineup in mid-December, Detwiler has not lost since falling by decision to 2A’s top-ranked Julian Ramirez of Belen Jesuit at Flagler Duals last month. Included in that run of 15 straight decfsions was a 16-6 major over Johnson (4th locally and 13th statewide), as well as a host of other strong wins at the St Johns River Conference tournament. Detwiler has convincing victories over Hobday and Bingham as well, with both of those being falls, and a tech over Delapaz. Right now, I would go with Johnson as the favorite for the runnerup spot, though Hobday did push Johnson to the brink at Flagler Duals before falling 11-9. Hobday should have some daylight between himself and Bingham for third, and Bingham has an equal amount of daylight over Rutledge, Delapaz and Marin’s 138 representative for fourth place and the move into the region tournament. It’s a very solid group of 138s that go out of this district, and lots of quality up and down the bracket.
Projected competitors in school order: Ectrus Barber (Atlantic Coast, 20-10); Anthony Moore (Buchholz, 35-14); Joshua Rivers (First Coast, 30-10); Anthony Petrelli (Fleming Island, 34-7); Mickey Coxon (Fletcher, 21-12); Camilo Calderon (Mandarin, 11-9); Kaz Maia (Palm Coast, 39-2); Joshua Bove (Sandalwood, 18-11).
Projected finish: 1. Maia. 2. Petrelli. 3. Moore. 4. Bove.
The skinny: Maia (1st locally, fifth statewide) has just two losses on the season. One was by one point at the Cypress Bay Duals, and the other was by fall at home against Petrelli, who’s got a way of putting together quick pin combinations to open the second or third periods. It will be interesting to see how the rematch goes. I would guess it would not end in a quick fall, but if anybody can take down Maia in this bracket, it would be Petrelli (3rd locally, 8th statewide). After understudying behind 2014 graduates Evan McCall and Charles Cuthbert for three years, Petrelli stepped into the spotlight, showing himself as one of the Golden Eagles’ best at any weight. Too, Petrelli is on a roll after two losses by fall at Palm Coast Rotary. Petrelli has won 17 straight since that tournament in early January, with all but two of those wins of a bonus-point nature. Next in the group after Maia and Petrelli should be Moore, who went 3-0 with Petrelli. In a solid group of Gateway kids, I would lean toward the Gateway champion, Bove, for the fourth spot, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Barber, Coxon or Rivers wound up getting out. All are certainly capable of stringing together enough day to make it happen.
Projected competitors in school order: Tywaine Rocheburn (Atlantic Coast, 7-13); Myckel Hutchinson (Buchholz, 35-6); Jason Rogers (First Coast, 19-14); Gabe Lear (Fleming Island, 17-11); Dominick Belew (Fletcher, 21-12); Adam Spikes (Mandarin, 12-5); Eric Rosso (Palm Coast, 32-13); Mitchell Pendleton (Sandalwood, 15-8).
Projected finish: 1. Hutchinson. 2. Rosso. 3. Pendleton. 4. Lear.
The skinny: I would have pegged Hutchinson (2nd locally, 5th statewide) as the favorite to win the bracket even before he put together some of the wins he’s had this year, but beating a defending state champion gave Hutchinson not only area, but also state, cred. Wins over Folkner, Winter Springs’ Max Wohlabaugh (two of those) and Lyman’s Jaryd Semrad have propelled Hutchinson into the state’s elite group in the weight class. However, he hasn’t seen the other stronger 152s, and Rosso (6th locally), in particular, will be gunning for him. Rosso has a lot of losses on his record, but most of them came in the first half of the year, and more recently he’s won 19 of his last 21. That should be a good final, if it comes off, because both are pretty solid attackers, but it also might not, if Pendleton (7th locally) puts together a strong run and catapults himself into the final. I think it would be difficult for Pendleton to overcome Hutchinson, but a Pendleton-Rosso semi would be a very good match to watch. I think Lear has the edge over Belew and Rogers for the fourth spot. Lear beat Belew, 10-4, during the course of the season, and he also has a first-period fall in hand over Rogers.
Projected competitors in school order: Clay Jones (Atlantic Coast, 17-9); Erik Kverneland (Buchholz, 22-16); Isaiah Smith (First Coast, 11-9); John Martorano (Fleming Island, 35-5); Owen Beining (Fletcher, 17-10); Mark Barreca/Josh Shiver (Mandarin, 9-6/2-0); Jake Trivett (Palm Coast, 38-0); Daniel Folkner (Sandalwood, 24-6).
Projected finish: 1. Trivett. 2. Martorano. 3. Folkner. 4. Mandarin
The skinny: We start with this: whatever bracket Trivett (1st locally, a surprising 6th statewide) goes — be it 160 or 170 — it’s his district to lose. We’ve been hoping to see the Trivett vs. Martorano (2nd locally, 8th statewide) match all season and it can finally happen with them both in the same bracket. For lack of a better term, Trivett appears to be on a mission for the top of the state podium and domination everywhere else along the way. Which, quite honestly, not enough kids are adopting as a mindset. He’s not had many matches go six minutes without at least one bonus point, and while Martorano has the skills to score himself, it will be an interesting sight to see how Martorano can try to slow down Trivett’s motor. It will not be an easy task. Should Folkner (3rd locally, 8th statewide at 170) also be here at this weight, and maybe he won’t be if Scout is right, somebody — probably Martorano — would have to overcome him in the semis. I don’t know if it would be as easy as it was in December. Folkner’s confidence appears to be all the way back after making the transition from 1A to 3A. If you like dark horses, this bracket’s full of them. Mandarin’s 160 — whoever it will be — is certainly one. Jones is another, Kverneland another and Beining another. I could say, and be perfectly content with the statement, that any one of the wrestlers not listed here in the top three could grab that fourth spot and make it their own. Third, too, if Folkner or Trivett aren’t here.
Projected competitors in school order: Chris Hoyt (Atlantic Coast, 20-13); Gerald Rushing (Buchholz, 14-18); Darien Holder (First Coast, 22-13); Ryan Smenda (Fleming Island, 30-16); William Kohlhaas (Fletcher, 28-8); John Perrone (Mandarin, 28-6); Steve Canidate (Palm Coast, 17-10); Dillon Morency (Sandalwood, 11-17).
Projected finish: 1. Kohlhaas. 2. Smenda. 3. Perrone. 4. Canidate.
The skinny: As I think Trivett will wind up at 160, that will open some doors up in this bracket, and I think Kohlhaas (T-5th locally, 10th statewide) is best-poised to go through them as the top choice and finally adding a district title to go along with his three Gateway titles. However, it won’t be won in quite so dominant a fashion as the Gateway has, because Smenda (7th locally) gave Kohlhaas quite a test before falling, 5-4, at the Flagler Duals. Along with Creekside’s Brandon Dickman, Smenda has served notice that he’s one of the area’s best middle-to-upperweight freshmen going out there, and the rematch in the finals — should it come off — would be a very competitive rematch indeed. There’s a gap between Kohlhaas/Smenda and Perrone, but there should be, also, enough of a gap between Perrone and the rest of the field that third is a solid possibility. Don’t be surprised by Canidate (9th locally at 182), though, as he’s beaten some region-level wrestlers throughout the year. Holder and Hoyt are darkhorse candidates to move on. The last thought on 170 would be this: Should Trivett choose to go 170, it will be hard for anyone to stop him from dominating this bracket. If Folkner is here, it will be a fun match to watch between Folkner and Kohlhaas.
Projected competitors in school order: Kurk Jackson (Atlantic Coast, 15-20); Dylan Lewis (Buchholz, 12-19); Glaston McKenzie (First Coast, 30-3); Jalyn Robinson (Fleming Island, 12-12); Mason McKenzie (Fletcher, 12-14); Samuel Hernandez (Mandarin, 35-3); Jonathan Muniz (Palm Coast, 37-8); Dominick Maldonado (Sandalwood, 10-14).
Projected finish: 1. Muniz. 2. Hernandez. 3. McKenzie. 4. Robinson.
The skinny: If Muniz (5th locally at 195, 11th statewide at this weight) holds his drop and doesn’t go back up to 195, he’ll be the favorite on the premise that he’s brought much more offense, which will be tough for the tacticians, Hernandez (#1 locally) and McKenzie (#2 locally), to counter. Muniz has more losses, but six of his eight were at 195, and the two at 182 were against the likely 3A favorite statewide at this weight (Manatee’s Jesse Fulk), as well as the region’s best (Parks Moore of University ORange City). Hernandez and McKenzie are always fun to watch, but they’ll need to open up in order to have the best chance of getting to Kissimmee in two weeks. It would look like, potentially, that Hernandez and McKenzie could meet in the semis for their fourth matchup of the season, with Hernandez holding a 2-1 advantage with wins in the first and third meetings (the third being the Gateway final at this weight). Robinson stands out above the rest of the group, having seen the strongest competition, and should be able to qualify out as the fourth.
Projected competitors in school order: Norek Stepanyan (Atlantic Coast, 20-13); Aaron Menden (Buchholz, 1-10); Jahlan Walker (First Coast, 36-1); Austin Smenda (Fleming Island, 14-5); Bryce Bednarski (Fletcher, 9-16); Mateo Drury (Mandarin, 18-12); Robert St. Pierre (Palm Coast, 6-7); Matthew Morency (Sandalwood, 9-14).
Projected finish: 1. Walker. 2. Smenda. 3. St. Pierre. 4. Drury.
The skinny: If Muniz wrestles here instead of 182, this is a different picture altogether, but as presently constituted, it’s Walker (#1 locally) and Smenda (#4 locally, 9th statewide), all the way. Walker’s only loss this year has been to 2A 182 state champion Sawyer Root of Harmony, and it was a first-period loss by fall. Walker has pins in hand against Drury and Stepanyan, and he’s also got a perhaps-closer-than-expected 5-1 win over St. Pierre, taken at the Flagler Duals last month. When Smenda has been in the lineup, he’s been very good, but his busy schedule with an eye toward college has kept him out of the Golden Eagle lineup on several occasions this year, and he hasn’t faced Palm Coast yet this season. St. Pierre has a sub-.500 record, but he’s got a great room in which to work, and getting him through has certainly been a focus this week, as the Bulldogs will be wanting to qualify their entire team to next week’s regions in Orange City. I could be sold on Stepanyan as well as Drury for the fourth spot. Stepanyan was controlling the match with Drury when the two of them met late in the season at Mandarin, but Stepanyan put himself in a compromising position and wound up losing by fall. Morency, too, could surprise.
Projected competitors in school order: Michael Welch (Atlantic Coast, 12-8); Jose Romero (Buchholz, 11-17); Scott Dollison (First Coast, 31-1); Jose Concepcion (Fleming Island, 33-11); possibly Josh Kelly (Fletcher, 6-10); Mark Sweat (Mandarin, 18-12); Vincent Ebanks (Palm Coast, 22-20). No 220 for Sandalwood.
Projected finish: 1. Dollison. 2 Concepcion. 3. Ebanks. 4. Sweat.
The skinny: I was a little surprised to see Dollison (1st locally) fall out of the statewide rankings, and even given some solid 220s in the region I am not at all certain that he isn’t one of the four best ones. Certainly here on Saturday, he is going to be considered the solid favorite to win the title, even with a very good Concepcion dropping down here from 285. In the one occasion that Dollison wrestled a heavyweight, he won by fall in 20 seconds in that match. Still, though, Concepcion (9th locally at 285) is strong enough to give him the kind of quality competition he’s going to need to start getting ready for next week. I am thinking there’s a pretty substantial gap between Dollison/Concepcion and the rest of the group, although I’d look first at Ebanks as the strongest challenger to that final. Ebanks (10th locally) has taken a lot of losses, but one of those was a full six-minute simple decision to Dollison (12-5) and there aren’t many locals who can say they’ve done that. Ebanks and Sweat haven’t met this year, so it’s mostly a guess on how they’d come out, but I think those are the top four at this weight. A few too many of Welch’s wins are by forfeit and I’m not sure that Romero or Kelly can hang with Sweat in a match; Sweat already has a win by fall in hand over Kelly.
Projected competitors in school order: Richard Johnson (Atlantic Coast, 16-9); Jacob Covington (Buchholz, 17-2); Joshua Story (First Coast, 12-8); Zach Schwenke (Mandarin, 3-4); Jake Dempsey (Palm Coast, 30-4); Miguel Velasquez (Sandalwood, 2-6). No 285 for Fletcher or Fleming Island.
Projected finish: 1. Dempsey. 2. Covington. 3. Story. 4. Schwenke.
The skinny: With the Saints’ Kahlil Welsh apparently focusing on football — and why not, with a Division I scholarship at Wake Forest tucked away — and Concepcion dropping down from this weight to 220, Dempsey (3rd locally, 11th statewide) goes from “in the mix of co-favorites” to “the one to beat” in this bracket. Although he hasn’t seen many of the current 285s in this bracket, Dempsey has a fall over AC’s Johnson — who could still very much be a dark horse in this group, maybe even a finalist — in hand and has also won 23 of his last 25 matches. Covington didn’t enter the Bobcats’ lineup until midway through the season, and has looked very, very solid since doing so. His losses are only to highly-regarded Colton Rausch of Auburndale and a quick loss by fall at Clay Rotary against Winter Springs’ TJ Boyd. He’ll be very much in the mix of the final regular-season rankings, as well, when they come out. I don’t think Story got off to the strongest start, but as the season has worn on, it seems that the time he’s had practicing with Walker and Dollison has helped him significantly, and on points he seems to be a little bit ahead of Schwenke and Johnson, but either one of those two could have a solid day and push their way all the way up to third at least.