Christmas has nothing on this. THIS is the most wonderful time of the year.
Just remember before you read. It’s not personal, but you’re allowed to take it personally if you want. Prove me wrong. Or prove me right. I like both.
Where: Pedro Menendez HS.
When: Wednesday, February 19 (2 p.m. weighins, 3:30 p.m. wrestle start).
Projected team finish: 1. Atlantic. 2. Palatka. 3. Pedro Menendez. 4. Keystone Heights. 5. FSDB. 6. Lake Weir. 7. Interlachen.
The skinny: Fresh off a 5 Star Conference team victory, the Sharks proved the preseason picks accurate, reaching the final 16 teams in the state, and have kept the lineup intact throughout the season, which should stand Atlantic in good stead on Wednesday. While Pedro Menendez proved to be the slightly stronger team in duals, I look for Palatka’s lower-weight starpower to propel the Panthers past the host Falcons into the runnerup spot, though all Palatka-Menendez matchups throughout the day will be must-sees. There’s some dropoff from there to Keystone in fourth, but the Indians are comfortably ahead of the rest of the group, both because of numbers and because they also have some quality to them as well. FSDB would be the choice over the Hurricanes and Rams, based mostly on numbers alone as the teams have wrapped up the season, but every team should have at least one qualifier out.
Matmen’s projected region qualifiers (along with dark horses if applicable and a BRIEF note):
106: 1. Mikada Harvey (Palatka). 2. Skyler Stringer (Pedro Menendez). 3. Gerardo Santiago (Interlachen). 4. Kayla Elliott (Keystone Heights). Note: Harvey’s the only wrestler who’s been the established starter all season. Stringer and Elliott have hard part-time appearances, while we haven’t seen any Interlachen results since December. I hope when I go tomorrow, that the Rams are there.
113: 1. Bernie Alvarez (Atlantic). 2. Jason Bowden (Keystone Heights). No 3rd or 4th. Note: And we haven’t seen Bowden for a while, so it’s possible we could see Alvarez standing alone in this bracket when the brackets come out Friday early afternoon.
120: 1. Ontarriyus Reid (Palatka, 11th statewide). 2. Jamey Bruner (Atlantic, 12th statewide). 3. Lance Gardenhire (FSDB). 4. Samuel Ulsch (Keystone Heights). Dark horse: Wesley Dallas (Interlachen). He was on the roster at the start of the year and could wrestle his old team. Note: This would also be an excellent final between two state-level competitors.
126: 1. Drevon Wallace (Palatka, 13th statewide). 2. Tyler Livingston (Atlantic). 3. Gavin Rosario (Pedro Menendez). 4. Hayden Sargable (Keystone Heights). Dark horse: Ty Snow (FSDB). Note: Could be a good final here. Sargable should be the 4, but Snow does have quite a bit of experience with this tournament.
132: 1. Azizbek Rustamiy (Atlantic). 2. Brandon Lewis (Palatka). 3. Logan Meehan (Pedro Menendez). 4. Sean Meyers (FSDB). Dark horse: Brendan McDaniel (Keystone Heights). Note: I could see the 3-4 switch here. In terms of consistency, this might be the most consistently-solid group of the 14.
138: 1. Jeremiah Epps (Atlantic). 2. DJ Nealy (Palatka, 19th statewide). 3. Jarrett Ellis/Alex Binkiewicz (Pedro Menendez). 4. Canyon Hayes (Keystone Heights). Dark horse: Hunter Peake (Lake Weir). Note: Pedro Menendez could do a number of options here (Lucas Allen another one), but the final looks pretty set in my mind.
145: 1. Avante Chamble (Atlantic). 2. Nathan Luckadoo/Jose Ruiz (Pedro Menendez). 3. Jonas Cole (Keystone Heights). 4. Grant Kincannon (Lake Weir). Dark horse: Adaris Medina (Palatka). Note: Pedro Menendez has options at this weight here, as well, but I don’t think any of them touch Chamble. Watch out for Cole as a finals possibility.
152: 1. Luckadoo/Ruiz (Pedro Menendez). 2. Anthony Scavelli (Atlantic). 3. Brady Weaver (Palatka). 4. Dean Marquis (Lake Weir). Dark horse: Tre’Shaun Faison (FSDB). Note: Could be the most open weight class of the 14; it wouldn’t surprise me if Weaver or Marquis not only made final, but won. But Menendez has the most experience, whoever it throws out here.
160: 1. David Arcieri (Atlantic, 19th statewide). 2. Sheppard Wingate (Keystone Heights). 3. Sam Lafferty (Palatka). 4. Jared Howard (Pedro Menendez). Note: Wouldn’t surprise me if Lafferty does make the final, but Arcieri is the overwhelming favorite to win the weight class here.
170: 1. Connor Spossey (Pedro Menendez, 6th statewide). 2. Noah Anderson (Atlantic). 3. Max Veloz (FSDB). No 4th. Note: This could be a good final; Anderson has shone at times for the Sharks, but Spossey appears to be much more comfortable growing out of the middles and toward the upper weights, with his length.
182: 1. Christian Henry (Atlantic). 2. Eliyah Cole (Keystone Heights). 3. Logan Parham (Pedro Menendez). 4. David Chinchilla (FSDB). Dark horse: Joshua Maxwell (Palatka). Note: I could see the 2-3 switching here, and Chinchilla — who showed me a little offense last week at Stanton — isn’t 100% safe for 4. But Henry is the odds-on pick on top.
195: 1. Jack Tilton (Palatka). 2. Dane Litzinger (Pedro Menendez). 3. Steven Raab (Keystone Heights). 4. John Wyman (Atlantic). Dark horse: Anthony Loynes (Lake Weir). Note: Assuming this stays straight up, Tilton is the favorite. Impressive showing in his first year with the team.
220: 1. Michael Sklare (Atlantic). 2. Gabe Adams (Keystone Heights). No 3rd or 4th. Note: Lots of teams missing a 220, could see an enterprising 195 move up. The title is not safe here; Adams could take it or a 195 could (both Tilton and Litzinger are good enough). Anything’s possible in this weight class.
285: 1. Jared Jackson (Atlantic, 3rd statewide). 2. Marlon Williams (Palatka). 3. Jon London (Pedro Menendez). 4. Eric Edwards (Interlachen). Dark horse: Cody Saley (Keystone Heights). Note: Jackson is the overwhelming favorite to win and Williams the overwhelming favorite to finish second. Edwards is a wild card here.
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