1A-Region 2 preview
When & where: The Master’s Academy, Oviedo. First session is set for noon Friday (as all are in all classes statewide). Saturday’s first session is set for 10 a.m., the second session typically is at the discretion of the tournament director for a mid- to late-afternoon start.
Team favorite: Lake. Highland. Prep. Next?
Can anybody challenge the Highlanders?: No. Next?
Local outlook in a nutshell: I think Palatka will get a few kids to Saturday — their lowers are too solid not to get some that far — but from there, it’s going to come down to experience and grit, and those are values that are tough to predict from a distance. There are a couple of kids that are state-capable in the Panther lineup. Interlachen has just one wrestler in the tournament, and him getting to Saturday, given the draw he has, will be difficult. Keystone Heights is in its first year of post-season competition this year, and this tournament will be a stern test and learning experience for the Indians.
Print this region’s brackets here: REGION 2 BRACKETS
The key thing to remember: Prove me wrong. Or prove me right. I like either one. I’m not telling which one is better. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.
Matmen’s state qualifier predictions, sure to be wrong —
106: 1. Danny Nini (1st in 1A, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Brandon Cody (15th, The Master’s Academy). 3. Keith Germain (Weeki Wachee). 4. Jamey Bruner (10th, Atlantic).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Wesley Dallas (Palatka); Heaven-Leigh Jackson (Hernando).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Anthony Edwards (14th, Space Coast).
First-round match worth price of admission: Edwards v. Ezra Yoder (Villages).
My too-short take: We should have a District 7 finals rematch in the final here, one way or the other. There’s quite a bit of play in the bottom half of the consis, where any one of three kids could emerge out and take third (Jackson and Dallas as well as Germain; Jackson did have a win in hand at districts).
Local outlook: I have Dallas as a dark horse. If he can overcome Bruner in the quarterfinals, his road to states gets a little easier, because I think the top half of the consis is a bit more open to get out. Going through the bottom half is going to be harder. We’ll see Keystone Heights eighth-grader Jason Bowden, hopefully, for a few years yet, but this year the road is going to be a tough one and even getting a third match on Saturday would be an accomplishment.
113: 1. Jake Wohltman (1st, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Jacob Tihoni (16th, Satellite). 3. Jonathan Britton (7th, Hernando). 4. Jonathan Dominguez (6th, Nature Coast).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Dominick Scaffedi (11th, Weeki Wachee).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Ryan Vite (Space Coast.
First-round match worth price of admission: Scaffedi v. Isaac Montalvo (Atlantic).
My too-short take: Wohltman won’t be pushed too hard in this bracket; I chose Tihoni on the experience factor as much as anything else, particularly given that there was some shuffle in the District 6 order of things. To me, the semi between Wohltman and Britton is the real final.
Local outlook: No locals in the weight class.
120: 1. Billy Gould (6th, Hernando). 2. Preston Walls (7th, Lake Highland Prep). 3. Azizbek Rustamiy (Atlantic). 4. James Nguyen (Bishop Moore).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Ontarius Reid (Palatka) & Lane Beck (Weeki Wachee).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Seth Brown (15th, Leesburg).
First-round match worth price of admission: Rustamiy v. Brown. Winner, I believe, gets out.
My too-short take: I really don’t want to go chalk here, because I’m sure Walls has probably watched film on this match with Gould — which they had at state duals, which Gould won by a point — about a dozen times this week and one thing every team in Florida knows by now, you will not out-prepare a Highlander.
Local outlook: I have Reid as a dark horse and reaching the semis and blood round. Getting to the semis isn’t the hardest part; Reid has a nice quarter to work with and should be able to get to Saturday on the front. LHP in the semis is another matter, and my concern once it goes over to the blood round, kids with a deeper schedule, like that wrestled by Bishop Moore, often have the advantage. There’s a good chance Reid gets out, but not a slamdunk chance.
126: 1. Nic Bouzakis (1st, Lake Highland Prep). 2. James Creech (14th, Villages). 3. J Lisk (16th, Hernando). 4. Keyshaun Taylor (Leesburg).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): James Fournier (Weeki Wachee) & Austin Carter (12th, Titusville).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Drevon Wallace (19th, Palatka).
First-round match worth price of admission: Fournier v. Alexander Tomesko (Bishop Moore).
My too-short take: Always take the chalk with Bouzakis. ALWAYS. Four possibles out of the top half to reach the final.
Local outlook: I have Wallace reaching the quarters, falling to Lisk there, and then making his way through to the blood round, where there would be a rematch of the District 5 final with Taylor. Wallace, to me, is the best on the Panther side, and is due for a state appearance. Palatka just has to amp up its schedule, though, because schedule might carry Lisk through, and Wallace will have a tough consi quarter against Space Coast even before Taylor. Like Reid, a chance Wallace gets out, but not a slamdunk chance. Keystone Heights’ Isabella Hanna will be doing well to get a third match Friday.
132: 1. Vincent Menozzi (2nd, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Michael Watson (13th, Cocoa Beach). 3. Michael Brown (17th, Hernando). 4. Cameron Rima (18th, Villages).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Rafael Lopez (Satellite) & Cole Vedder (Weeki Wachee).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Tristen Carbonell (Bishop Moore).
First-round match worth price of admission: Brandon Lewis (Palatka) v. Avante Chamble (Atlantic).
My too-short take: Menozzi has been a capable competitor ever since getting varsity time for LHP; bottom half of the bracket is stronger, with three possibilities for getting out.
Local outlook: Lewis, just a freshman, could be the kick-start to revitalizing the Panthers’ program, which has struggled for numbers despite a really nice nucleus of lower-weight juniors. No matter what happens in the round of 16 or quarters, I think he’s a Saturday qualifier, but even reaching the blood round will require beating kids with longer resumes who’ve been in this arena before. We will see him again. I have Interlachen’s Elijah Miller getting three matches, but he could see Lewis or Weeki Wachee’s Cole Vedder in WB round 2 Friday night, and that’s a tall order.
138: 1. Justin Rivera (1st, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Josh Pritz (4th, Hernando). 3. Billy Fetzner (10th, Nature Coast). 4. James Clark (Cocoa Beach).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Roderick Bruce (10th at 132, Crystal River) & Michael Squires (Space Coast).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): None.
First-round match worth price of admission: Jeremiah Epps (Atlantic) v. William Watkins (Titusville).
My too-short take: Rivera is going to dominate this bracket. The winner between Fetzner and Clark will for sure get out, and maybe both do. Solid top half, but Pritz is top of that group.
Local outlook: I think Palatka’s DJ Nealy could get three matches, but it might depend on winning that first-rounder against Central, Brooksville’s Caleb Wood. A loss to Wood means facing Satellite’s Jaiden Rittenhouse, a fourth-place finisher, but District 8 was particularly solid at that weight and Rittenhouse has beaten some good people. If Nealy wins round 1, he has a chance to make Saturday, but I have Villages advancing past him Friday night (of course, with full Palatka results from that event I might make a different call).
145: 1. Chris Rivera (1st, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Boston Tafelski (8th, Hernando). 3. Solen Sheppard (3rd, Gulf). 4. Jason Amato (13th, Space Coast).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Devin Hernandez (Bishop Moore) & Caleb Middelton (Rockledge).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): None.
First-round match worth price of admission: Hernandez v. Jeremiah Funk (Cocoa).
My too-short take: Rivera is going to dominate this bracket. The semi between him and Sheppard might be the real “final.” Tafelski won’t be touched on the top half, but those he goes through should do some damage in the consis.
Local outlook: If either Keystone Heights’ Dylan Page or Palatka’s Colby Poupore gets a third match, it will be an accomplishment. Both kids will get a taste of what they’ll need to work on; the experience level required just to get to Saturday at regions, let alone getting out, is not somewhere they’re at just yet, but it’s in their hands to change that starting this off-season.
152: 1. Dominic Isola (3rd, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Bronson Tafelski (8th, Hernando). 3. Ethan Hatcher (14th, Villages). 4. John King (15th, Rockledge).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Landon Coleman (Atlantic), Tyler Swingle (17th, Cocoa Beach), Jason Dutton (Gulf).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Gavin Wheeler (10th, Bishop Mooe), Taiyo Kirby (Satellite).
First-round match worth price of admission: There’s two good ones up top, but I’ll go with Swingle v. Dutton.
My too-short take: One of the stronger brackets in terms of depth. Isola wins it, Tafelski 2nd, that’s chalk. But so many possibilities are out there for the taking. Kirby winning District 8 makes this even more intriguing. There’s seven kids that could contend for third and fourth.
Local outlook: Like Page at 145, Keystone Heights’ Caleb Crawford would be doing very well to get a third match; his chances are a little better than Page’s, given that he’s probably looking at a sub-.500 wrestler in WB round 1, but Keystone needs to widen its competitive base in year 3 as a program, which I’m sure it will start to do, for its kids to compete at the region level.
160: 1. Cameron Monzadeh (2nd, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Ryan Cody (5th, The Master’s Academy). 3. Joey Smith (15th, Rockledge). 4. Jacob Carbonell (14th, Bishop Moore).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Andrew Esser (Crystal River).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Julio Escobar (Cocoa).
First-round match worth price of admission: Esser v. Kenny Tynan (Space Coast).
My too-short take: Monzadeh shouldn’t be stretched by anybody, but the bottom half doesn’t look too intimidating; his quarterfinal might be the best match before the final. As deep as 152 is, this bracket really comes down to four kids.
Local outlook: Eastside’s Ethan Anderson has a chance to win a match in the first round, or again in WB round 1, but I am not sure how solid a chance he has to get to Saturday. The better shot he has on that front is to beat Titusville’s Joseph Robinson in the round of 16 so that he can get into the second consi quarter. Then it might be possible.
170: 1. Hunter Brinkman (4th at 182, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Fernando Valdez (8th, Hernando). 3. Joe Scherer (7th, Satellite). 4. Isaiah Strong (17th, The First Academy).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Marcus Santos (13th, Space Coast).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Brian Strickland (Weeki Wachee).
First-round match worth price of admission: Strong v. Greg Williams (Cocoa).
My too-short take: Brinkman has a lot of losses (13), but he also has seen competition none of the rest of the region, and a lot of kids in the state in any class, have seen. I expect a close final, but I also expect the LHP training to pull Brinkman through.
Local outlook: Best chance for Keystone Heights’ Steven Reinhart to get a third match Friday is to win his first one. Reinhart is facing a fellow sub-.500 wrestler in the round of 16. I do feel, though, that it’s going to be a two-match tournament and experience on which to build for the future.
182: 1. Kai Bele (1st at 170, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Liam Harris (5th, The Master’s Academy). 3. Devicq Thompsen-Alexander (3rd, Rockledge). 4. Alex Espinal (9th, Hernando).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Tyler Godfrey (Crystal River).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Christopher Spellman (17th, Nature Coast).
First-round match worth price of admission: Klebert Charles (Weeki Wachee) v. Delcory Allen (Leesburg).
My too-short take: Wow, that ought to be a fun semifinal between Bele and Thompsen-Alexander. Thompsen-Alexander’s a tremendous athlete, but there’s a reason that Bele is already a Division I commit to, arguably, one of the strongest programs in the Southeast. Still, though, it’s a state final-level match stuck in a region semifinal.
Local outlook: Eastside’s Amir Bilal is in a tough quarter, with Spellman as a first-rounder, Thompsen-Alexander in the quarters. He could get a third match if he can beat Villages’ Jaden Markus in WB round 1, but that would most likely be Godfrey in WB round 2. Not great options for getting out to Saturday.
195: 1. Logan Andrew (1st, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Charles Alexander (2nd, Rockledge). 3. Jason Schmidt (5th, Weeki Wachee). 4. Peter Sagorski (20th, Cocoa Beach).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Jacob Forbes (14th, The First Academy) & Mason St John (11th, Villages).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Choogy Morris (10th, Satellite).
First-round match worth price of admission: Schmidt vs. John Butcher (Atlantic).
My too-short take: Another deep weight class, with at least five and maybe six kids that could take a run at third or fourth, and yet at the same time, one almost has to go chalk with the final. We could see this final play out again next week in Kissimmee.
Local outlook: Keystone Heights’ Gabe Adams would be doing well to get a third match, given the quarter he’s in, with Schmidt, Morris and Butcher in the same quarter. It’s been a bit of a refrain, but it bears repeating, that the experience Adams will gain from seeing this competitive level will give him much information with which to work in order to get better in 2019-20.
220: 1. Matt Kaplan (4th, Lake Highland Prep). 2. Jordon Love (9th, Rockledge). 3. Qwenton Coney (8th, Hernando). 4. Brian Henderson (Crystal River).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Decaon Straube (Weeki Wachee) & Enzo Benkiran (16th, The First Academy).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Robert Ware (Titusville) & T-Jay Mitchell (Space Coast).
First-round match worth price of admission: Kaplan vs. Jacob Buehrig (Hudson). Two state-ranked kids in round of 16.
My too-short take: I don’t think Kaplan is going to have a massive amount of worry in getting through the bracket, but a semi against Coney and final against Love would get him ready for states next week. Coney is probably the solid choice for third, but fourth could come down to one of three kids and the competitive levels they’ve faced this season to get ready for battles such as this one.
Local outlook: Eastside’s Afi McNeal has a chance to get a third match even if he loses his first-rounder with Mitchell, but a win over Mitchell could get him an outside shot at Saturday, the way the bracket breaks down. I think it’s a very slim shot, but it’s not impossible. Key, though, would be beating Mitchell in the round of 16, and that’s going to be tough to do.
285: 1. DeAudre Thomas (5th, Rockledge). 2. Brandon Dynia (7th, Crystal River). 3. Jesse Sorensen (8th, Central). 4. Sam Fleming (Hernando).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Francisco Tobar (Lake Highland) & Michael Marotta (Nature Coast).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Jared Jackson (14th, Atlantic) & Joshua Graham (13th, Villages).
First-round match worth price of admission: Thomas v. Jahkiye Facey (11th, Weeki Wachee). Another match with two state-ranked kids.
My too-short take: Tobar easily pinning both Graham and Jackson gives me pause about knocking him out of the front side of the bracket in the quarters, but Fleming does have an earlier win in hand (albeit a sudden-victory one). The winner of that quarter could get out to state. Despite bracket seeming somewhat light, Thomas could face four state qualifiers in the process of winning it.
Local outlook: Both Palatka’s Ethan Johnson and Eastside’s Zantavion Rushing (particularly Rushing) will do very well to get a third match. Rushing’s quarter has 92 wins and three state-ranked kids in it. Johnson could maybe get to WB round 2 as there’s a probable sub-.500 opponent in WB round 1, but then he could be looking at Tobar or Fleming.
All statewide rankings as created by Brant Parsons and as updated February 18.
Find us on Facebook at North Florida Matmen or on Twitter at @NorthFLAMatmen.
Learn more about south Georgia’s scene! Check out our affiliated site at http://sgamatmen.wordpress.com
Please support our independent journalism by going here and donating to our website: https://www.gofundme.com/north-florida-matmen