2A state meet preview
When & where: Friday and Saturday at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee. Wrestling Friday starts with weigh-ins at 8 a.m. and the first round at 10 a.m. with first-round wrestlebacks immediately following, and second-round wrestlebacks following those. On Saturday, wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m. with semifinal competition. Third- (blood round) and fourth-round (consi semis) wrestleback competition follows after. Placing-round matches will take placer afterward. Finals are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Team outlook: Regions 2 and 3 are loaded for bear, so look for the elite teams out of those regions — Lake Gibson and Brandon from Region 2, Riverdale and Charlotte from Region 3 — to be at the top of the heap, along with Jensen Beach from Region 4. All Region 1 kids, take note: Bring your A+ game to Kissimmee. You’re going to need it. There are going to be a lot of kids knocked out on Friday who are going to be pretty upset about it, but the rest of the state in this classification has stepped their game up, and you need to, also.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Chase Ayers (Lake Gibson). 2. Cullen Guerrero (Palmetto Ridge). 3. Dominic Nardini (Springstead). 4. Jaden Villalobos (Archbishop McCarthy). 5. Anthony Limauro (Suncoast). 6. Roy Chiong (Barron Collier).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Ayers. 2. Guerrero. 3. Matthew Rodriquez (Ridgeview). 4. Villalobos. 5. Nardini. 6. Limauro.
First-rounders not to miss: Rodriquez v. Jose Berdecia (Brandon); Lauren Stone (Venice) v. Villalobos.
Local outlook —
Rodriquez: Has the best Saturday chance of the group, and I have him getting to Saturday, though not via perhaps the most-desired path. There’s pitfalls along the way. Brandon kids are never a preferred first-round matchup. Is it possible to make the semis? Absolutely, but it’s also possible for Rodriquez to medal through the consi side. I have him getting to Saturday, where a critical match with Limauro in the blood round sets the table. He’s not in the picks, but he’d be the first dark horse I’d pick outside of those top six.
Tazz Hampton, Middleburg: Drew probably the second-best Region 2 kid with Nardini, who met Ayers in the semis last week. But he’s got room for a win on the back side, where he’ll likely take on Merritt Island freshman Elijah Lusk. Am guessing Limauro would be next in Friday night’s action.
Noah Kryfka, Crestview: Has a Chamberlain wrestler with 51 wins in the first round, but Tampa city wrestlers often come in with pretty big records and don’t always have a lot of resume behind those wins. The next two matches (Villalobos and probably Berdecia) are much tougher.
Shaun Culbreth, Matanzas: Has a very tough first-rounder in Ayers, but might find the path in consi round 1 navigable against the loser between Limauro and North Fort Myers’ Caleb Massari.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Tyler Forrest (Brandon). 2. Connor Williams (Lake Gibson). 3. Donovan Cataldi (Charlotte). 4. Jacob Cochran (Tate). 5. Nathaniel Parker (Venice). 6. Lleyton Taylor (Riverdale).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Cataldi. 2. Forrest. 3. Williams. 4. Owen Wetzel (Harmony). 5. Sebastian Calmet-Medone (Sunset). 6. Parker.
First-rounders not to miss: Cochran v. Ben McCallister (Palmetto Ridge); Rocco Senia (Palm Bay) v. Wetzel.
Local outlook —
Cochran: Should have a solid chance for the semis and that long-worked-for state medal, though McCallister isn’t a typical fourth-place region finisher and either Senia or Wetzel will be tough outs late Friday afternoon. As tough as his quadrant, the second quadrant — with Williams and Cataldi in it — is even harder, but he should, on the back side, be favored in the first match if not the second.
Gabriel Guzman, Ridgeview: Guzman draws Riverdale’s Taylor in the first round and despite the third-place region finish, Taylor is a solid medal threat. The consi round 1 matchup, probably against Robinson’s Jayden Alverez, is a sound possibility for a win there, with Friday night against either — most likely — Wetzel or Cochran. A Saturday appearance would be a really solid tournament.
Mark Munroe, Lincoln: Finds himself in the “group of death” quadrant with a solid medal threat in Parker in round 1. Most likely, Munroe takes on South Broward’s Anthony Montanez in consi round 1, and would have to take a win there to escape the quadrant.
James Benton, Middleburg: Draws unbeaten Cataldi in round 1, and will most likely face a fellow freshman, Jensen Beach’s Kenny Hauck, in consi round 1. A good match there should at least bring a Friday-night appearance.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Trey Lane (Brandon). 2. Evan Butler (Lake Gibson). 3. Fabian Jaramillo (Olympic Heights). 4. Orande Smith (Estero). 5. Thomas McCane (Springstead). 6. Alexander Godinez (Hialeah-Mater Lakes).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Lane. 2. Godinez. 3. Nicholas Vugman (Bartram Trail). 4. Butler. 5. Smith. 6. Michael Gonzalez (Golden Gate).
First-rounders not to miss: Butler v. Vincent Grimaldi (Charlotte); McCane v. Gonzalez; Zachary Hartzog (Niceville) v. Joey Tufo (Jensen Beach).
Local outlook —
Vugman: I know Brant has him ranked third, and I of course want to see him podium on Saturday, but I’m also a big believer in lighting fires under kids that need a little bit of extra oomph as they complete their prep. I see Vugman winning in round 1, but I’ve seen Lake Gibson’s Butler, and he’s really good. If Vugman beats Butler, he can make the final. If not, he can still win a medal from the back side, but I have Godinez advancing out of the bottom half of the blood round. Let’s see if I’ll be proven wrong a fourth time.
Josh Bower, Matanzas: Bower, too, has a tough first-rounder (this is going to sound like a bit of a recording before long) in Jaramillo, but has a decent shot in consi round 1 against East Lake’s Jason Leggett. He’d either get Godinez or the winner of McCane/Gonzalez, in Friday evening’s second consi round.
Hartzog: Hartzog gets a tough program in round 1, but a winnable match against Jensen Beach’s Joey Tufo. The quarterfinal would see Smith of Estero, a difficult matchup out of Region 3. I think Hartzog can get to Saturday, but a medal will mean defying some statewide expectations.
Jerson Cabiao, Choctaw: Cabiao has a tough first-rounder, with Region 4 champion Godinez there, and a pretty tough out in consi round 1, with 94 wins in that half of the quadrant.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Chris Rivera (Fort Myers). 2. Hugh Herring (Dixie Hollins). 3. Hunter Lefevre (Brandon). 4. Chace Curtis (Columbia). 5. Michael Butler (Olympic Heights). 6. Shannon Hanna (Lake Gibson).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Rivera. 2. Hanna. 3. Lefevre. 4. Curtis. 5. Butler. 6. Herring.
First-rounders not to miss: KeShawn Percy (Palm Bay) v. Lefevre; Herring v. Gabe Jacobs (Gulf Breeze).
Local outlook —
Curtis: As befitting a region champion, Curtis’ path to a medal is the clearest, but by no means are the goals he’s set easy to achieve. He’s got reasonably-good chances to push his way through to the semis, but then Rivera would be waiting in the semifinal. I’ll just say this: the winner of that semi wins the championship.
Stone White, Matanzas: White is in the bottom quadrant, which is one of two “groups of death” in this weight class. White has a very tough Region 3 third-placer in Palmetto Ridge’s Francisco St. Surin in round 1, with another uphill battle looking at him in consi round 1.
Jacobs: Jacobs has an especially-uphill battle in round 1, but at least a chance to move into Saturday, against either Percy or Lefevre. Won’t be easy, but there is a chance it could happen.
Ikeon Myles, Lincoln: Is in the other group of death in this weight class, with Rivera, Lefevre and Percy, and their 163 wins in tow. Myles gets the defending state champion, Rivera, in the first round.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Justin Rivera (Fort Myers). 2. Lucas Willis (Charlotte). 3. Nathan Lawwell (Lake Gibson). 4. Gerald Roger (Golden Gate). 5. Wyatt Kirkham (Jensen Beach). 6. Travis Pawlowski (South Lake).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Rivera. 2. Roger. 3. Willis. 4. Kirkham. 5. Lawwell. 6. Pawlowski.
First-rounders not to miss: Willis v. Alex Rosario (Brandon); Pawlowski v. Roger; Lawrence Russo (Matanzas) v. Marcus Rivera (Olympic Heights).
Local outlook —
Daniel Mann, Columbia: Is a region champion, but got Region 3’s runnerup, meaning he would see Willis — a defending 1A state champion — in the quarterfinals. Mann should win in the first round, and should get to Saturday (more on that in a bit) but will have to beat a very solid wrestler in the blood round (my guess is either Kirkham or Pawlowski) to get a medal.
Russo: Has one of the more solid third-place wrestlers in any bracket, let alone this one, with Olympic Heights’ Marcus Rivera as a first-rounder, with Lawwell waiting in the wings in the quarterfinal. Best way to a medal is to win your way into the semis, because before Kirkham/Pawlowski sees Mann, he might see Russo Friday night.
Matthew Blalock, Tate: This is a really tough quarterfinal, with the defending state champion, Rivera, waiting in the quarters. First-round opponent Zachary Robertson is a solid, solid opponent. Could see Mann, Blalock and Russo all battling for one medal opportunity in the bottom half of the consi bracket.
Christopher Burch, Middleburg: Is in a group of death, with Kirkham right out the chute in the first round and then either Roger or Pawlowski in consi round 1. This quadrant could qualify three on the podium this weekend.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Chris Morales (Springstead). 2. Chris Patterson (Palm Bay). 3. Dan Stone (Venice). 4. David Ortiz (Golden Gate). 5. Cody Rice (Charlotte). 6. Elijah Gray (Lake Gibson).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Rice. 2. Ortiz. 3. Jared Dinh (Riverdale). 4. Morales. 5. Jake Tuschman (Jensen Beach). 6. Patterson.
First-rounders not to miss: Dinh v. Tuschman; Gray v. Matt Ross (Columbia); Stone v. Patterson.
Local outlook —
Saeid Ejmali, Ridgeview: If Ejmali stays locked in and holds serve (dang tennis analogy) through the first two rounds, he’ll finally podium at states. I think round 1 is not a problem, but a quarterfinal with Ortiz is big. If he wins it, he can finish it in the top four. A loss in that quarterfinal has him having to fight off the Stone/Patterson round 1 loser just to get to Saturday.
Ross: Ross has a Saturday chance, as his first-rounder with Gray could be an either/or matchup. Rice would be waiting in the quarters on the front side, and the back side is a winnable match. I could see Ross at least get a chance to compete for a medal on Saturday.
Ian Eckert, Matanzas: In a quadrant with 143 wins surrounding him. Honestly, the first-rounder against Liberty’s Jonathan Figueroa, is probably the best of the matchup possibilities within that quadrant, as there’s two top-three projected placewinners in the other part of the quadrant.
Cameron Bennett, Pace: Done no favors by the schematic; Bennett gets Morales in round 1, then would face either Riverdale or Jensen Beach in consi round 1, with probably Lake Gibson waiting in the offing. A Saturday appearance would be a tremendous tournament.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Ethan Basile (Jesuit). 2. Jalen Soto (Cypress Lake). 3. Andreus Bond (Brandon). 4. Tommy Barker (Springstead). 5. Terrence Clayton (Riverdale). 6. Tyrone Jones (Matanzas).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Basile. 2. Bond. 3. Soto. 4. Jones. 5. Clayton. 6. Barker.
First-rounder not to miss: Andy Martinez (Golden Gate) v. Brandon Gregg (Heritage).
Local outlook —
Jones: Jones has perhaps the safest path among the four locals in the tournament, and he’s in a quadrant with 155 wins besides his. It won’t be easy to turn back both Armwood’s Jacob Newman and either Martinez or Gregg on Friday, but I think Jones can do it. Facing Basile in the semi is another matter altogether, but he does have a decent shot of winning (at least) one match on the back.
Luis Parrales, Bartram Trail: Opens his tournament with Barker, an experienced competitor on the state scene, in the first round. Parrales does have a good shot on the back side to win at least one match, but a Barker/(likely) Clayton) combo is a tough recipe for a Saturday appearance.
Ethan Billhimer, Pace: Has a stern test in Bond in the first round, but some room to manuever around a little bit afterward, with a likely consi round 1 against Fort Myers’ Riley Hackworth. Billhimer would need an upset Friday night to have a shot at a medal, but he’s had some upsets already, so he’s familiar with the drill.
Elliott Crum, Lincoln: Crum is another one done no favors by the schematic, as he faces Basile in round 1. There is a winnable match to be had in consi round 1, but then a tall order for Friday evening, with either Soto or Barker the likely opponent.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Noah Ridley (Brandon). 2. Brian Opalensky (Estero). 3. Nelson Ortiz (Riverdale). 4. Charlie Roche (Springstead). 5. Juan Cruz (Naples). 6. Mitch Hamilton (Palmetto Ridge).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Ridley. 2. Cruz. 3. Ortiz. 4. Opalensky. 5. Nate Golmon (Tate). 6. Hunter Crichton (Auburndale).
First-rounder not to miss: Roche v. Cruz.
Local outlook —
Golmon: Golmon has a good chance to make the podium, even though he wasn’t listed there in the first-impression brackets. His first-round match is pretty winnable, and the quarterfinal against Opalensky should test him well for winning (at least) two matches on the back. Key would be getting past Citrus’ David Miller, a 55-match winner by the time they’d meet and probably that team’s best wrestler, in consi round 2.
Bailey Howes, Niceville: Howes was last year’s 2A breakout wrestler; this year, he should have a chance in round 1 against Jensen Beach’s Chris Williams, but then would face Ridley in the quarters. If he gets past Cruz in consi round 2, he could reach the podium Saturday night.
Tanner Hill, Nease: Hill’s got a little navigable space in his quadrant, with a winnable first-rounder against Port St. Lucie’s Montavious Yearby. Ortiz would be the reward for that win, in the quarters, but there might be an opportunity to qualify out for Saturday against (most likely) Auburndale’s Hunter Crichton, who’s got a lot of wins, but didn’t have a hard path to Region 2 final.
Anthony Root, Pace: Root’s best opportunity for a match win might be right out of the chute against Region 4 champion Justin Maynard of South Broward, because a loss would meaning facing off against Roche or Cruz to stay alive in the bracket.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Christian Minto (Mariner). 2. Jesse Martinez (Riverdale). 3. Jack Johnson (Niceville). 4. Coleman Bryant (Dixie Hollins). 5. Onid Olavarria (Brandon). 6. Mike Edouard (Fort Myers).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Minto. 2. Miguel Hernandez (Lake Gibson). 3. Johnson. 4. Olavarria. 5. Martinez. 6. Bryant.
First-rounder not to miss: Johnson v. Edouard.
Local outlook —
Johnson: Could be a battle of state champion v. state champion in the semifinals. Johnson’s got winnable matches (he sees Fort Myers’ Mike Edouard, once again, right off the bat in round 1) in the first round and quarterfinals, but then would be facing Minto in the semis. If he beats Minto in the semis, he’d be the odds-on favorite to be a two-time champ.
Alex Jacobs, Gulf Breeze: Jacobs is in a decent quadrant, which is a rare-enough thing in 2A, but drew Bryant in the first round. He could make Saturday with two wins at the back of the bracket, but could run into Olavarria with a state medal on the line.
Billy Shaw, Creekside: Shaw’s had a solid season, but is looking at Martinez in round 1. He has a decent shot at a win in the first round of consis, against Olympic Heights’ Joao Ize, but Olavarria would be the likely matchup in consi round 2.
Mitchell Mika, Stanton: The schematic did Mika no favors, as he drew Minto in the first round; the hope for a third match is that Mika would be able to rally and take a consi round 1 win against Merritt Island’s Darren Higgins.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Ashton Habeil (Lake Gibson). 2. Philip Sapp (Sebring). 3. Justin Grant (Lincoln). 4. Ethan Endres (Winter Haven). 5. Jack Sopotnick (Jensen Beach). 6. Caleb Van Helden (Riverdale).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Habeil. 2. Ethan Davis (Olympic Heights). 3. Grant. 4. Sapp. 5. Endres. 6. Sopotnick.
First-rounders not to miss: Grant v. Broc Spurling (Brandon); Van Helden v. Sopotnick; Joshua Hagan (Citrus) v. Landon Dains (Terry Parker).
Local outlook —
Grant: Should Grant get past Spurling in the first round, which he’s favored to do, the quarterfinal looks a little easier. Grant will be looking at Habeil in the semis, and that match could very well be the best one in the tournament.
Dains: Probably looking at a tossup match in the first round with Hagan. Sapp would be a tough matchup in the quarters, but a consi round 1 placement would be a winnable match in that quadrant, but either Riverdale or Jensen Beach looms in the Friday night consi round 2 match.
John Gunther, Pace: Gunther opens with fellow junior Endres in the first round, which might be tricky. Gunther has a winnable match in consi round 1 against Palmetto Ridge’s Lance Lecuyer and it wouldn’t be totally surprising for him to make a Saturday appearance.
Tracey Beshara, St. Augustine: Beshara wasn’t done favors by the schematic, as he’ll face Habeil in round 1, with the loser of Van Helden/Sopotnick in consi round 1. Being in the same quadrant with three potential medalists is a tough place to be.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Jose Valdez (Charlotte). 2. Brandon Dickman (Creekside). 3. Jermaine Teague (Cypress Lake). 4. Colby Singletary (Palmetto Ridge). 5. Blake Wiswell (Jensen Beach). 6. Tannen Slack (Gulf Breeze).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Valdez. 2. Dickman. 3. Singletary. 4. Wiswell. 5. Chase Landgraff (Springstead). 6. Slack.
First-rounders not to miss: Landgraff v. Zion James (Columbia); Wiswell v. Devin Price (Golden Gate).
Local outlook —
Dickman: There’s going to be challenges along the way. Teague, a tough out but an out nonetheless last year, in the quarters. A solid opponent in either Landgraff or Singletary in the semis. And then the chance to gain some revenge in what was probably his most forgettable single set of six minutes this season. It’s all out there to go get.
Slack: I have Slack winning three matches in this tournament, including the first round and then (at least) two on the back side. Valdez in the quarters is probably too tall an order, but a win there could be a boost toward a Saturday night possibility.
Jared Newhall, Lincoln: Probably got the worst draw among the Region 1 kids at this weight, facing a very solid Jaquan Jackson of Robinson, with either Price or Wiswell — two wrestlers that could both be on the podium — in the consi round.
James: For as strong as Region 3 is going to be in this tournament, I actually think James has a pretty decent shot in the first round. While I have it the other way, if I was right, I think James would have a pretty good chance at Saturday nonetheless. If I’m wrong, he’d have a shot to face Dickman with the finals on the line.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. De’Yaveyun Joseph (Lake Gibson). 2. Chad Nix (Jensen Beach). 3. Darius Parker (Riverdale). 4. Alex Bordeau (West Boca Raton). 5. Trenton Shenefield (Springstead). 6. Brian Gimenez (Cypress Lake).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Joseph. 2. Nix. 3. Bordeau. 4. Parker. 5. Shenefield. 6. Gimenez.
First-rounders not to miss: Nix v. Timothy Johnson (Pasco); Gimenez v. Brooks Harp (Bartram Trail); Connor Cleveland (Ft Walton Beach) v. Anthony Andou (Charlotte).
Local outlook —
Reed Danielson, Orange Park: Has been a terror in north Florida, and has a winnable first-rounder, but taking on Jensen Beach’s Nix will be a very tall order in the quarterfinal. Still, Danielson’s beaten most of the odds to get as far as he has, and could be one of those northern kids that shakes up expectations this weekend.
Cleveland: We might see a rematch of the Region 1 final in consi round 2 Friday night, as Andou is a very tough customer and perhaps a podium threat himself. I think Cleveland should be able to win at least once on the back side, where he would get a second shot at Danielson, if first-impression brackets hold up.
Harp: Harp had a great region-tournament run to get into the show, and that could boost him into a decent shot in the first round against Gimenez. Either way, there’s certainly a winnable consi round 1 win, with either Shenefield or Parker in consi round 2 Friday night.
Gus Altenburg, Lincoln: One of the best stories of the season, Altenburg opens his tournament with a placer threat in Parker in round 1. A match against Norland in consi round 1 could provide a chance to get a win, but another placer threat, likely Gimenez, could loom Friday night.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Jacob Stanbro (Riverdale). 2. Troy Jaffy (Olympic Heights). 3. Devin Jandura (Robinson). 4. Braden Buswell (Seabreeze). 5. Coleman Young (Crestview). 6. Jacob Tisdale (Gulf Breeze).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Stanbro. 2. Jaffy. 3. Jandura. 4. Buswell. 5. Jack Marble (Venice). 6. Mason Arnold (Jesuit).
First-rounders not to miss: Kolton McDaniel (Bartram Trail) v. Marble; Tisdale v. Justyn Cordones (Mariner).
Local outlook —
Young: Should have a winnable first-rounder, but then would face Buswell — who’s a tough match for almost any 220 — in the quarterfinals, but I do think that Young can come back and win two matches on the bottom of the back side. We could see one last match between Young and Tisdale before their high school careers end..
Tisdale: Has a bit of a tossup in play in the first round against Cordones, but I think it’s a winnable first-rounder. Jaffy’s been around a long time and is a multiple-time placer, so that quarterfinal could be tough, but Tisdale does have the capability to win two matches on the back side.
McDaniel: Brant and I might disagree, but I think McDaniel’s got a winnable first-rounder, and even Jandura in the quarters — while formidable — might not be impossible to push past, which would guarantee the medal. He should certainly qualify for Saturday in any event.
Darrius Pena, Niceville: Drew Stanbro in the first round (what is it with Region 1 4ths consistently drawing favorites in the opener), which is a tough situation. Pena might have a winnable match, however, in consi round 1, and could get another shot at McDaniel (or Marble) in consi round 2.
Matmen picks, sure to be wrong: 1. Carter Harris (Harmony). 2. Brendan Bengtsson (Braden River). 3. Adolphus Taylor (North Fort Myers). 4. Cole Lewis (Cypress Lake). 5. Jeret Harvey (Jensen Beach). 6. James Spencer (Springstead).
Sentinel picks, sure to be less wrong: 1. Taylor. 2. Bengtsson. 3. Harris. 4. Giovanni Allen (Viera). 5. Spencer. 6. Harvey.
First-rounders not to miss: Spencer v. Lewis; Taylor v. Cameron Carr (Lake Weir).
Local outlook —
Saul Storey, Creekside: The best way for Storey to earn a medal would be to earn his way into it on the front side, because that’s the most straightforward way to get it done, with wins in the first round and quarterfinal. A loss in the first round means a tough opponent in consi round 1, a loss in the quarters pushes Storey into the bottom of the consis, which is also a tough place to go.
Connor Saint, Milton: Could have a winnable first-rounder against Sunset’s Jonathan Esquival, but Harris in the quarters would be another matter. Saint could have a decent chance for a Saturday appearance, and would be an outside dark-horse threat for a podium photo.
Darius Stanley, St Augustine: It’s not the worst place for Stanley to be, given that he wasn’t expected to make it out to regions let alone state, but there are three talented heavies in his quadrant, with Allen in the first round and then the loser between Taylor and Carr in consi round 1.
Donnie Wilburn, Gainesville: Has two probable placewinners in his quadrant, including a first-rounder against Harvey. There might be an opportunity in consi round 1 for Wilburn to take a victory, but Saint might be in play in consi round 2.
Pairings for this tournament can be found here.
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