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: Wakulla HS.
When: Friday, February 21 (1 p.m. weighins, 3 p.m. wrestle start).
Projected team finish: 1. Wakulla. 2. Suwannee. 3. Florida High. 4. Marianna. 5. Baker Cty. 6. Godby.
The skinny: This has been a four-team district, in actual fact and projected competitiveness, but this year we’re up to six (seven if Maclay, which I know has competed in a varsity tournament this year, but haven’t seen anything otherwise on, shows up). Still, this is Wakulla’s title to lose, as the War Eagles will be going for — and likely succeeding at getting — their 10th consecutive district title. Even with two more teams, Wakulla should get its entire team out to Region 1, which the War Eagles will host on February 28-29. Suwannee has emerged this year as the clear favorite for second after battling neck-and-neck with Florida High in duals, only to fall short in the traditional. This year, the battle for the Seminoles will be with Marianna for third. It should be a pretty good battle on that front. The other newcomer to the district, Baker Cty, has had some decent successes through the year, and the Wildcats are used to wrestling a juggernaut, as this year’s senior group had Clay the previous three years. Godby has some good wrestlers, but faces a significant numbers setback compared to the other teams in the district.
Matmen’s projected region qualifiers (along with dark horses if applicable and a BRIEF note):
106: 1. Julian Harvey (Wakulla, 9th statewide). 2. Brody Boehm (Suwannee, 16th). 3. William Curry (Florida High). 4. Audra Phillips (Marianna). Note: I’m not 100% certain that there will be four wrestlers in this weight class; there will, for sure, be two. Suwannee could flip-flop these weights. Boehm’s had a little more success so he’ll probably go where it makes best sense. Harvey’s been out of the lineup down the stretch, but if healthy is their best 6.
113: 1. George Hernandez (Wakulla, 5th statewide). 2. Foster Swain (Suwannee). 3. William Carrel (Marianna). 4. Thomas Torres (Baker Cty). Note: Hernandez is the clear favorite in this weight class, but I would expect the Carrel-Swain semi to be a good one. Carrel has the experience, Swain has a few more wins this year to his credit.
120: 1. Xander Kirkland (Suwannee, 10th statewide). 2. Raymond Hatchman (Wakulla, 8th statewide). 3. Shane Bullard (Baker Cty). 4. John Breaux (Godby). Dark horse: Whoever Florida High starts here. Note: The Kirkland-Hatchman final should be a very good one. Kirkland’s been a placer and Hatchman wants to get on podium, and that’s a pretty substantial driving force. The Florida High darkhorse could put the back half of the bracket in some chaos, but I think Bullard moves on either way.
126: 1. Tyler Reeve (Florida High, 3rd statewide). 2. Timothy Jolicoeur (Suwannee, 13th statewide). 3. David Jackson (Baker Cty). 4. Jae Thaxton (Wakulla). Dark horse: Tony Howie (Godby). Note: As we’ve said with 120 and we’ll say with 132, we just don’t know which way Florida High is going to go. Playing it straight, Reeve is at this weight, and wins this weight, but he will get a test from Jolicoeur. Thaxton will not make it easy for Jackson in the third.
132: 1. Matthew Owen (Wakulla, 3rd statewide). 2. Brooks Dyer (Florida High, 4th statewide). 3. Jaxon Sansouci (Suwannee, 11th statewide). 4. Juan Torres (Baker Cty). Dark horse: Dustin Arnold (Marianna). Note: We just aren’t sure where Dyer, Reeve and Ganim are going to be between 120 through 132. Dyer’s had a lot of time away, and if he’s up here (just as likely as him being at 120), he has some rust to work through. It will be a crazy final…if it happens.
138: 1. Jackson Merrick (Wakulla, 20th statewide). 2. Emil Ganim (Florida High, 18th at 132). 3. Tyson Musgrove (Suwannee). 4. Dylen Goldemith (Baker Cty). Dark horse: Trett Phillips (Marianna). Note: Merrick hasn’t gotten to state podium yet, and Ganim has in the past. But Ganim’s been at lower weights during the course of the year, and we’ll see on Friday how he handles the jump up. Musgrove won’t be an easy out in the semi. I would expect two very competitive matches.
145: 1. Noah Wilson (Wakulla, 3rd statewide). 2. Caleb Parsons (Suwannee). 3. Dennis Ganim (Florida High). 4. Ethan Heinemann (Marianna). Dark horse: Clark Bryant (Baker Cty). Note: No one is going to beat Wilson on his home mat, but there’s the potential for a very good semi, and whoever Baker puts in is going to have a shot here.
152: 1. Chase Roberts (Wakulla, 9th statewide). 2. Austin Howard (Suwannee). 3. Nigel Brown (Godby). 4. Liam Hawkes (Florida High). Dark horse: Branden Bradley (Baker Cty). Note: While I don’t think anyone’s going to hang with Roberts in the weight class, I could see a number of combinations between 2-5, even 2-6, going on here. Could depend on how Florida High sets lineup.
160: 1. Cole Baggett (Wakulla, 6th statewide). 2. Micah Perdue (Florida High, 8th statewide). 3. Chase Maddox (Marianna, 7th statewide). 4. Clayton Dennison (Baker Cty). Dark horse: Jim King (Suwannee). Note: This is another deep group, just about as deep as 182’s, with three for-sure state-qualifier threats. Baggett should be a bit ahead, but the bottom-half semi and the final are both going to be can’t-misses.
170: 1. John Maddox (Marianna, 4th statewide). 2. Jayvon Brown (Wakulla, 7th statewide). 3. Dustin Wood (Suwannee). 4. Collin Bishop (Florida High). Dark horse: Seth Williamson (Godby). Note: Maddox is the clear choice at this weight class, which is a little lighter due to inexperience after the first two kids, both of whom could be state qualifiers.
182: 1. Blaine Howard (Suwannee, 16th statewide). 2. Jackson Osteen/Hayden Reeves (Wakulla, 10th statewide). 3. Christian Cosson (Marianna, 18th statewide). 4. Toby Kinghorn (Baker Cty). Dark horse: Diego Duprey (Florida High). Note: Howard came in late to the team, but hasn’t missed a beat since he’s been here. This top four is about as solid, 1-4, as any group in this weight class. Very solid and competitive group.
195: 1. John Trevor Hinsey (Wakulla, 3rd statewide). 2. Marcus Haigler (Florida High, 13th statewide). 3. Pierce Kirkland (Baker Cty). 4. Julian Green (Godby, 19th statewide). Dark horse: Marianna’s entry. Note: Hinsey wins the group no matter what happens with “Marianna’s entry,” which is heretofore going to be Lawson Jackson. But it COULD be senior Corey Davis (8th statewide), who’s not since at least Scott Rohrer. He would make the final. He would give Hinsey a very tough matchup. If.
220: 1. Slade Watkins (Wakulla, 5th statewide). 2. Garrett Cain (Baker Cty). 3. Robert Harrell (Godby). 4. Roosevelt Williams (Marianna). Dark horse: Robert Robinson (Suwannee). Note: Nobody is going to beat Watkins in this group, but the Cain v Harrell semifinal could be a well-contested one. The Baker kids are quite strong in the uppers.
285: 1. Joshua Yarbrough (Godby, 9th statewide). 2. Jaqrez Elliott (Baker Cty). 3. Jayven Hearns (Wakulla, 17th statewide). 4. Cayden Williams (Suwannee). 4. Dark horse: Zeth Harris (Marianna). Note: Yarbrough’s only been a part-time starter, particularly of late, but he’s got a state-champion coach training him. Will be a great final, as Elliott (or Hearns; don’t think that’s just a walkover) will test him.
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