Wrestling and predictions are uneasy compatriots, mostly because — it’s been my experience over the years — a wrestler likes to defy expectations whenever possible or even whenever impossible. I think most people took my 2014-15 predictions in stride when they came out, but I am also sure that a couple of teams used them as motivation, particularly as the calendar ticked over toward February.
So I thought I’d take a look back at last year’s predictions and see how I actually did. I got five of the eight district champions correctly picked. Some of the districts (particularly in 2A), I did very well, and some of the others (also in 2A) I pretty much picked like I just moved to Florida yesterday.
Why look back? It puts this year’s picks — which I just posted around an hour or so ago — into some perspective. I’m going to get some right, I’m going to get some wrong and I’m going to get some REALLY wrong. It’s all good. It all gets settled on the mat in the third week of February, one way or the other.
Here’s the look back:
Projected: 1. Flagler Palm Coast. 2. Fleming Island. 3. Sandalwood. 4. Buchholz. 5. Fletcher. 6. First Coast. 7. Atlantic Coast. 8. Mandarin.
Actual: 1. Flagler Palm Coast. 2. Fleming Island. 3. Buchholz. 4. Sandalwood. 5. First Coast. 6. Mandarin. 7. Fletcher. 8. Atlantic Coast.
Comments: I actually didn’t miss this by all that much. Buchholz did a solid job of pointing to the post-season, and the Bobcats were able to push past Sandalwood for the third spot. Fletcher had one of the weaker efforts it had had in a tournament all season, and Mandarin had a few late-season additions to the lineup sparkle, giving the Mustangs a little extra push.
Projected: 1. Columbia. 2. Lincoln. 3. Gainesville. 4. Chiles. 5. Leon.
Actual: 1. Lincoln. 2. Leon. 3. Columbia. 4. Chiles. 5. Gainesville.
Comments: Pretty much made a hash of these picks. First, if all of Columbia’s 2014 returners had come back and wrestled a year ago, I think I would have been justified in putting the Tigers in the top spot here. I thought some of the Hurricane wrestlers that were less-experienced would take more of a step than they did, but there were some newcomers who were decent surprises. And Leon was significantly better than they’d been in the previous year, so props to them for that. At least I got Chiles picked in the correct spot.
Projected: 1. Orange Park. 2. Middleburg. 3. Oakleaf. 4. Ed White. 5. Ridgeview. 6. Terry Parker. 7. Englewood. 8. Stanton. 9. Robert E. Lee.
Actual: 1. Orange Park. 2. Middleburg. 3. Oakleaf. 4. Ed White. 5. Ridgeview. 6. Robert E. Lee. 7. Englewood. 8. Terry Parker. 9. Stanton.
Comments: Not bad if I do say so myself, but I certainly underestimated what Lee had coming back, and overestimated what Terry Parker had coming back; I thought the Braves would even give Ridgeview a bit of a run for that fifth spot. But I picked the top five, in order, correctly. In November. Sometimes, a blind squirrel finds the acorn. Catfish Hunter was right.
Projected: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. St. Augustine. 4. Nease. 5. Bartram Trail. 6. Ponte Vedra.
Actual: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. Bartram Trail. 4. St. Augustine. 5. Nease. 6. Ponte Vedra.
Comments: This one I lay entirely at the feet of Chad Parker. I thought it would be THIS year before we would start to see the Bears making significant strides toward the direction that Parker wanted Bartram to go. However, he made his team believe a whole lot faster than I thought he would. Don’t be surprised if that gap between the Bears and the top two closes some, or even a lot, this year. Otherwise, for the most part I had this district down as well.
Projected: 1. Suwannee. 2. Wakulla. 3. Florida High. 4. Godby. 5. Rickards.
Actual: 1. Wakulla. 2. Florida High. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby. 5. Rickards. 6. North Florida Christian.
Comments: I still think if everybody that could have wrestled for the Bulldogs last year actually had wrestled, that team would have challenged Wakulla for the title, and certainly that team would have been a real threat to win regions, since a much-younger and much less-experienced group still took third.
Projected: 1. Yulee. 2. West Nassau. 3. Westside. 4. Raines. 5. Baker County. 6. Bishop Snyder. 7. Fernandina Beach. 8. Paxon. 9. Andrew Jackson.
Actual: 1. Yulee. 2. Westside. 3. Baker County. 4. West Nassau. 5. Fernandina Beach. 6. Bishop Snyder. 7. Raines. 8. Andrew Jackson. 9. Paxon.
Comments: Several kids for Raines that should, I thought, have been in the lineup, were not, and I would hold that the Vikings would have done better than 7th with everybody in the lineup. I also overestimated the numbers that would come back for West Nassau; very few returning kids actually did come back, but the Warriors found some new ones that I didn’t know about. Got Yulee right, but I really thought that the Hornets would run away and hide, and give Westside credit — the Wolverines made it difficult.
Projected: 1. Bolles. 2. Bishop Kenny. 3. FSDB. 4. University Christian. 5. Bradford. 6. Duval Charter. 7. Providence. 8. Episcopal. 9. Pedro Menendez. 10. Wolfson.
Actual: 1. Bishop Kenny. 2. Bolles. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. FSDB. 5. Wolfson. 6. Episcopal. 7. Duval Charter. 8. University Christian. 9. Providence. 10. Bradford.
Comments: It was made clear that picking the Bulldogs to win districts was something that rankled at Bishop Kenny all season (and yet, I have stepped into that breach once again). The far-bigger miss was on Pedro Menendez; I’d really thought that losing three state qualifiers was going to be a real problem. The Falcons did a solid job of making that prediction a bunch of hooey, and even in doing so probably left some points out there. I thought UC and Bradford would have a lot more back than they did, and it showed. Episcopal showed signs of being on the move as well.
Projected: 1. Clay. 2. Crystal River. 3. Dunnellon. 4. Villages. 5. North Marion. 6. Palatka. 7. Trinity Catholic. 8. Interlachen. 9. Eastside.
Actual: 1. Clay. 2. Crystal River. 3. Palatka. 4. Eastside. 5. North Marion. 6. Villages. 7. Trinity Catholic. 8. Interlachen. 9. Dunnellon.
Comments: I whiffed on Dunnellon, mainly because a couple of its studs moved out — one going to Admiral Farragut. Eastside finished where I thought Dunnellon would, essentially, and Palatka and Villages essentially swapped spots. Palatka improved more over the year, and they may improve even more this year. Trinity Catholic is another team on the move, too.