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 (although, actually, I’d prefer you lay off the shopping today. Let folks be with their families. That TV will keep until 0600 Friday).
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 8-for-10 on picking champions last year (1 better than the previous year). But the misses that we had were both very small and very large. We missed small (runnerup pick Bolles over Bishop Kenny in 1A-District 4, gap just two points) and we missed big (we had Mosley SIXTH in 1A-District 1).
We were 6-for-10 on picking last-place teams last year (1 worse than the previous year). These misses were smaller (Rocky Bayou, picked 10th in 1A-1, was 9th; Raines, picked 8th in 1A-3, was seventh; Leon, picked fifth in 2A-2, was fourth; Stanton, picked 8th in 2A-3, was seventh).
So, if I picked your team to win, you should be pleased, but if it’s the Panhandle districts especially, don’t be too over-confident. 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. I had the first three teams right in six of the districts (if not necessarily the right order). And we were exactly right on the top three with 1A-5, 2A-2 and 3A-1.
Take heart. Look at Mosley. I had the Dolphins as a solid mid-pack team in November (6th, and that was with some decent kids that wound up not even wrestling for the team). They took it all the way to the district title. Look at Fort Walton Beach, which I had pegged for seventh in 2A-1, and they pushed all the way up to second place in the district. Think about Fernandina Beach, which was projected seventh in 1A-District 3 a year ago, and was less than 10 points out of third place when the smoke cleared at districts.
Where you’re projected today is just that: a projection.
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.
Predicted: 1. South Walton. 2. Marianna. 3. Arnold. 4. Rutherford. 5. Bay. 6. Mosley. 7. Wewahitchka. 8. Bozeman. 9. North Bay Haven. 10. Rocky Bayou Christian.
Actual: 1. Mosley. 2. Arnold. 3. Marianna. 4. South Walton. 5. Rutherford. 6. Bay. 7. Wewahitchka. 8. North Bay Haven. 9. Rocky Bayou Christian. 10. Bozeman.
Analysis: This district is always the toughest one for me to predict. I thought South Walton would have enough strength behind its stars to win the district, and their stars did well, but there wasn’t enough supporting cast point depth. We thought Arnold and Marianna would be the strongest challengers, and they were, but it was Mosley that they wound up chasing. The Dolphins were the surprise of the district, without question. We had the bottom four teams correct, but the order of 8-10 was a bit jumbled.
Predicted: 1. Wakulla. 2. Florida High. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby. 5. Rickards. 6. Gadsden Cty.
Actual: 1. Wakulla. 2. Florida High. 3. Suwannee. 4. Godby.
Analysis: For the past couple of seasons, this has probably been the most “chalk” district to pick, and last year was no exception. Like as in 2017-18, I always think there will be more teams than there are, and as in 2017-18, it reduces down to four. That’s one thing you all have been able to count on from me. (Don’t this year; I did not include Rickards and Maclay). One thing about reclassification — we know there won’t be four teams in 2019-20. But for one more year at least, the chalk might still hold up.
Predicted: 1. Clay. 2. Yulee. 3. West Nassau. 4. Westside. 5. Bishop Snyder. 6. Baker Cty. 7. Fernandina Beach. 8. Raines.
Actual: 1. Clay. 2. Yulee. 3. West Nassau. 4. Fernandina Beach. 5. Bishop Snyder. 6. Westside. 7. Raines. 8. Baker Cty.
Analysis: Top three picks were on the money, always a gratifying thing. (Although, to be fair, it’s Clay; it’s a pretty safe pick). We thought Westside might be strong enough to give West Nassau a really strong push for third. The real surprise of the district was Fernandina Beach. The Pirates had fallen on some tough times, and had a new coach coming in to start the year. Instead, Fernandina pushed past the rest of the mid-pack teams and nearly gave West Nassau a solid run for third-place money.
Predicted: 1. Bishop Kenny. 2. Bolles. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Episcopal. 5. Bradford. 6. Wolfson. 7. FSDB.
Actual: 1. Bolles. 2. Bishop Kenny. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Episcopal. 5. Wolfson. 6. Bradford. 7. FSDB.
Analysis: No, we definitely not expect Bolles to knock off five-time defending champion BKHS, but even still the margin of victory was just two points and the Crusaders had three fewer wrestlers available to them. Bolles brought out some new guys we hadn’t seen a lot of — though they all had been in the lineup — while the Crusaders didn’t have everybody that did wrestle mid-year. We had the third- and fourth-place teams picked, and the last-place team. Bradford had a tougher finish to the season than was expected, but even still Wolfson needed almost every point to moved past the Tornadoes for fifth.
Predicted: 1. Crystal River. 2. Palatka. 3. Keystone Heights. 4. Eastside. 5. Leesburg. 6. Interlachen.
Actual: 1. Crystal River. 2. Palatka. 3. Keystone Heights. 4. Leesburg. 5. Eastside. 6. Interlachen.
Analysis: For the most part, this was accurate. We got the top three teams and the sixth-place team correct. While I didn’t think the spread was going to be 115 points between champ Crystal River and runnerup Palatka, the order was accurate. The only glitch was that we had Eastside fourth and Leesburg fifth. Eastside didn’t have as many kids come back as I thought they could have, and the Rams struggled a bit more than I thought they might.
Predicted: 1. Pace. 2. Gulf Breeze. 3. Niceville. 4. Tate. 5. Choctaw. 6. Crestview. 7. Ft Walton Beach. 8. Milton.
Actual: 1. Pace. 2. Ft Walton Beach. 3. Gulf Breeze. 4. Niceville. 5. Choctaw. 6. Crestview. 7. Tate. 8. Milton.
Analysis: Last year, I said that I knew 2A-1 better than I thought I did. This year, I say that I thought I knew 2A-1 better than I actually did, because I would have been able to see Ft Walton Beach come out of the woodwork and knock Gulf Breeze off the second-place perch. If any team embodied the spirit of wrestling not for the beginning of the season but for the end, it was Ft Walton last year. Did think Tate would have more returners than it did last year, also.
Predicted: 1. Lincoln. 2. Columbia. 3. Gainesville. 4. Chiles. 5. Leon.
Actual: 1. Lincoln. 2. Columbia. 3. Chiles. 4. Leon. 5. Gainesville.
Analysis: We were pretty sure on the top two, and we got those right. We thought Chiles might make some uptick after a really really young group repped the Timberwolves in 2017-18, but it made a lot more uptick than we thought, even pushing Columbia somewhat for second place. Thought also that Gainesville would have a few more returners than it did, and that was reflected in the district traditional finish down the stretch.
Predicted: 1. Orange Park. 2. Ridgeview. 3. Middleburg. 4. Englewood. 5. Ed White. 6. Terry Parker. 7. Stanton.
Actual: 1. Orange Park. 2. Englewood. 3. Ridgeview. 4. Terry Parker. 5. Middleburg. 6. Stanton. 7. Ed White.
Analysis: Largely a swing and a miss on this one. We did get Orange Park correctly picked, but the spread between the Raiders and Englewood — definitely the upset special of this district — was only 21 points, which is not huge. Terry Parker finishing fourth also was a surprise, too. We definitely leaned upon the Clay County dominance factor in this district, but Englewood certainly surprised us as we saw what they were doing last year.
Predicted: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. Bartram Trail. 4. Nease. 5. St Augustine. 6. Ponte Vedra. 7. Paxon.
Actual: 1. Matanzas. 2. Creekside. 3. Bartram Trail. 4. St Augustine. 5. Ponte Vedra. 6. Nease.
Analysis: We have gotten this one more or less spot-on. Picked the top three teams in order and we had the sequencing on St Augustine and Ponte Vedra right. What you can’t predict in this business are the impacts injuries have on a team, and that is what slid Nease down from fourth to sixth (we also couldn’t predict Paxon not coming to districts). So we’re pretty happy with what our choices were here.
Predicted: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Buchholz. 3. Flagler Palm Coast. 4. Fletcher. 5. Mandarin. 6. Oakleaf. 7. Sandalwood. 8. First Coast. 9. Robert E. Lee. 10. Atlantic Coast.
Actual: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Buchholz. 3. Fletcher. 4. Flagler Palm Coast. 5. Oakleaf. 6. Sandalwood. 7. Mandarin. 8. Robert E. Lee. 9. First Coast. 10. Atlantic Coast.
Analysis: More or less on with this one, we had the top four right (top two in order) and bottom three right, just a small adjustment in the order. I didn’t think there’d be a 30-point gap between Fletcher and Flagler. Not much spread in the middle, really (9.5 points between FPC and sixth-place Sandalwood). Mandarin we thought was going to be better than they were. I would be surprised if I’m off about a #DayTrained-group again this year.
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