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: Matanzas HS.
When: Wednesday, February 19 (1 p.m. weighins, 3 p.m. wrestle start).
Projected team finish: 1. Seabreeze. 2. Matanzas. 3. New Smyrna Beach. 4. St Augustine. 5. Belleview. 6. Deltona. 7. Pine Ridge. 8. Mainland.
The skinny: The traditional tournament looked all but decided with Seabreeze’s decisive performance in the district duals in mid-January, but the season moves along and things can still change. Both of the preseason favorites, the Sandcrabs and preseason favorite Matanzas, have taken hits this year, and the battle at the top should be pretty hotly contested. The battle for third should be a pretty good one, too, with — I would expect — a three-team battle for that team spot. New Smyrna Beach has a couple more horses and star power, and that should show out, but St Augustine does too. Belleview has a bit more consistency in its skill level, and that’s got an upside (covers more weights) and downside (tougher to advance). Deltona, Pine Ridge and Mainland have issues either with lineup filling or with consistency (or a little of both), but their stronger kids do have opportunities to advance, and a few of them will.
Matmen’s projected region qualifiers (along with dark horses if applicable and a BRIEF note):
106: 1. Zackery Young (Belleview). 2. Devon Heil (Pine Ridge). 3. Kayla Nguyen (Seabreeze). 4. Gavin Barro (St Augustine). Dark horse: Carter Wilder (Matanzas). Note: This is a pretty open group, maybe the most open group of the tournament; I have a suspicion that Heil could get out as the champ, but there might up to four kids that get on a hot streak tomorrow.
113: 1. Joe Kent (Seabreeze, 16th statewide). 2. Kevin Kerns (Deltona). 3. Mark Willis (Belleview). 4. Henson White (Matanzas). Dark horse: Tristan Smith (St Augustine). Note: Top three looks much more settled here than at 106, but Kent appeas to be clear favorite after 5 Star performance.
120: 1. Jace Engberg (New Smyrna Beach, 14th statewide). 2. Kobe Baert (Seabreeze, 13th statewide). 3. Ethan Goodman (Matanzas, 7th statewide). 4. Luis Vazquez (Deltona). Dark horse: Michael Ventre (Belleview). Note: There’s going to be a region-quality wrestler left home at this weight. Engberg’s 5 Star win made him the favorite at this weight.
126: 1. Shaun Culbreth (Matanzas, 4th statewide). 2. Michael Shannon (New Smyrna Beach, 7th statewide). 3. Carlos Pineda (Deltona). 4. Jordan Levy (St Augustine). Dark horse: Andrew Davis (Belleview). Note: Final here, if it holds up (and it should, unless one of them moves up to 132), would be best final — and worth price of admission alone — in the tournament.
132: 1. Jacob Swanson (Deltona). 2. George Joanos (Matanzas). 3. Tristan Winfrey (New Smyrna Beach, 16th statewide at 120). 4. Zachary McLaughlin (Belleview). Dark horse: Isaias Davila (Mainland). Note: Could be six kids in the mix here, maybe even seven. Swanson should be favored to win, but lots of combos in play after that.
138: 1. Devin Stickney (Seabreeze). 2. Sam Russo (Matanzas). 3. Justis Chandler (New Smyrna Beach). 4. Carlos Quintanal (St Augustine). Dark horse: Zane Hair (Deltona). Note: We haven’t seen Stickney for a few weeks, but I think he’ll be back for the tournament run. Russo/Chandler would be a hotly-contested semi.
145: 1. Griffin Wilder (Matanzas, 8th statewide). 2. Grant Schwartz (Seabreeze). 3. Gabriel Galloza (St Augustine). 4. Hunter Childress (New Smyrna Beach). Dark horse: Walter Warner (Pine Ridge). Note: One of the more solid groups getting out; we haven’t seen either of the finalists for a couple of weeks. Galloza might be best third-place wrestler of the tournament, if he doesn’t finish higher.
152: 1. Brock Roberts (Seabreeze, 18th statewide). 2. Noel Alicea (Matanzas, 7th statewide). 3. Hayden Yanni (St Augustine). 4. Thomas Evans (New Smyrna Beach). Dark horse: Eric McLaughlin (Belleview). Note: This is another finals match worth price of admission, as there’s a couple of kids with a lot to prove — to themselves as much as anyone else — in the weight class.
160: 1. Victor Lipsey (Seabreeze). 2. Tristian Williams (Matanzas). 3. Braden Sullivan (New Smyrna Beach). 4. Cornelius Bentley-Greene (Belleview). Dark horse: Clint Griffin (St Augustine). Note: Not going to be surprised if Griffin makes it out, or even makes the final. Lots of possibilities in this group after Lipsey, who should be solid favorite.
170: 1. Quenteen Robinson (Matanzas, 6th statewide). 2. Shaun Young (Belleview). 3. Thomas Connell (New Smyrna Beach). 4. Pablo Sierra (Seabreeze). Note: Connell could be a finalist here; the weight class, which has the most overwhelming favorite of the group, could see an enterprising 160 — where there’s a deeper field — move up here.
182: 1. Ryan Murphy (St Augustine). 2. Jonathan Waugh (Pine Ridge). 3. Chris Thomas (Seabreeze). 4. Brady Howe (Mainland). Dark horse: Dale Edwards (New Smyrna Beach). Note: Going to be at least one, maybe two region-quality kids staying home next week. Lots of potentials in play, particularly 3-6.
195: 1. Caiden Patton (Seabreeze). 2. Doug Dittmer (Mainland). 3. Nathan Halstead (Belleview). 4. Austin Mitchum (New Smyrna Beach). Dark horse: Dylan Oglesby (Pine Ridge). Note: We didn’t see Oglesby at 5 Star, and he’s certainly good enough to get out, although he might be at 182 and Waugh at 170. Decent group moving on here.
220: 1. Nathan Boyd (Seabreeze, 17th statewide). 2. Ethan Chiu (Deltona). 3. D’Angelo Baker (Pine Ridge). 4. Pete Grimm (Matanzas). Dark horse: Titus Bailey (Belleview). Note: Bailey coming down from 285, where he’d been all season, makes things interesting. Will see if Chiu — who was hurt at 5 Star — is 100%. He did win by fall against Atlantic last week.
285: 1. Ke’aundre Solomon (Belleview). 2. Robert Elder (Matanzas). 3. Nathan Hatch (Deltona). 4. Connor Flagg (Seabreeze). Dark horse: Justin Ballard (St Augustine). Note: Like the other bookend, this is looking to be a very open group, where any one of five kids could win this weight with a momentum spike.
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