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: Nease HS
When: Saturday, February 22 (8 a.m. weighin start, 10 a.m. wrestle start).
Projected team finish: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Oakleaf. 3. Bartram Trail. 4. Creekside. 5. Nease. 6. Sandalwood. 7. Mandarin. 8. Atlantic Coast.
The skinny: Barring a lineup change, we won’t see Fleming Island do what it did a year ago. With no 106, the Golden Eagles won’t take 14 kids to regions this year (which they’re hosting). But we will — or least barring something really major happening, SHOULD — see Fleming qualify all 13 kids to next week. What we MAY see is the Golden Eagles duplicating last year’s 13 weight-class titles won, a school record. It’s a tall order, and there’s a weight where they’re not going to enter as a favorite. But it can be done, and if it can be done, Fleming is the only team in the north that can do it. Oakleaf should be the team that finishes second Saturday, but the Knights will have to hold off challenges from Bartram Trail and Creekside to do it. Oakleaf has the knowledge that it can do it, after finishing second at district duals, but Bartram Trail finds a different level at post-season time (see their region performance a year ago) and Creekside pushed their Knight equivalents to the final match in a dual setting last week. There’s some gap from the top four to Nease (although the Panthers might dispute that, given their dual win over Oakleaf at Englewood. Nease, though, is a better duals team than a tournament team. Sandalwood should head up the rest of the group, although the Saints will get a push from Mandarin. Each has solid kids that will get out, and Atlantic Coast will have chances for a couple as well.
Matmen’s projected region qualifiers (along with dark horses if applicable and a BRIEF note):
106: 1. Ethan Vugman (Bartram Trail, 13th statewide). 2. Brielle Bibla (Nease). 3. Andrew Feeks (Creekside). 4. Denzell Keeton (Oakleaf). Note: It would surprise me if there’s more than four kids at 106; Bibla-Feeks met at St Johns and while I’d expect a rematch to be closer, I think it goes the same way. Vugman should cruise to the title.
113: 1. Hunter Herrington (Fleming Island, 6th statewide). 2. Trevion Demus (Nease). 3. Michael Moore (Bartram Trail). 4. Cody Smith (Creekside). Dark horse: Devin Foster (Mandarin). Note: Should be a full bracket. Herrington and Demus are ahead of the rest of the group. There’s a couple of possibilities out there for good quarterfinals, but the top four look solid.
120: 1. Ryan Hobson (Fleming Island, 16th statewide). 2. Marcus McGee (Oakleaf). 3. Hunter England (Creekside). 4. Parker Stamschror (Nease). Dark horse: Jacob August (Bartram Trail). Note: The top two have a pretty solid gap between them and the rest of the class. Shifting between the 3 through the 5 spots would not surprise me, however.
126: 1. Riley Holton (Fleming Island, 6th statewide). 2. Trevor Tagarelli (Bartram Trail, 19th statewide). 3. Juvens Augustin (Sandalwood). 4. Michael Galiani (Creekside). Dark horse: Kevin Gilley/Jason Stewart (Oakleaf). Note: While Holton is class of the field, I think we have a very real chance for a quality semi between Tagarelli/Augustin. Oakleaf has a decent chance to move on to next week.
132: 1. Isaac Padgett (Fleming Island). 2. Trevor Owens (Oakleaf). 3. Ayden Nguyen/Preston Pena (Bartram Trail). 4. Nolan Anderson (Creekside). Dark horse: Ben Peterson (Sandalwood). Note: Bartram’s got some options here and at a couple of their middles, where they did a lot of mix-and-match during the year. Owens has emerged as a clear runnerup favorite and Padgett, as well, as the leader.
138: 1. Dalton Williams (Fleming Island, 9th statewide). 2. Lavaughn Brown (Sandalwood). 3. Jalon Lumar (Nease). 4. Logan Gilbert (Oakleaf). Dark horse: Matthew Tayloe (Bartram Trail). Note: This is a very underrated, consistent group that gets out. Would be a finals matchup of club teammates, but Lumar and Gilbert won’t make it easy.
145: 1. Gannon Janssen (Fleming Island, 3rd statewide). 2. Stephen Farris (or Zachary Gelo) (Bartram Trail). 3. Drew Ryan (Nease). 4. Mateo Ramirez (Creekside). Dark horse: Jermell McCall (Sandalwood). Note: What makes this tough to call is not the top pick, because Janssen is that much farther ahead of everyone else. We’re just not sure where Farris is going to go; I think he can make final at 145, not as sure if at 152. McCall is not one to overlook.
152: 1. Tanner Hill (Fleming Island, 5th statewide). 2. David Parkes (Oakleaf, 12th statewide). 3. Nathan Manning (Creekside). 4. Chad Severt (Nease). Dark horse: Gelo (or Farris) (Bartram Trail). Note: I would pencil in Farris at 3 if he’s at 152 with this group. Another club teammate final at this weight; both have solid-to-excellent chances to qualify out next week as well.
160: 1. Luke Chop (Fleming Island, 2nd statewide). 2. Anthony Tanza (Nease). 3. James McClintic (Oakleaf). 4. John McNames (Bartram Trail). Dark horse: Joshua Brown (Sandalwood). Note: Chop is another Golden Eagle that is far ahead of the rest of the group, but there is a LOT of room for a hard charger, out of the rest of the group, to make the final. Tanza and McClintic went 10-9 at Englewood, but McNames — who’s been out of the lineup for a little bit — and Brown can both make solid runs.
170: 1. Gavin Smith (Fleming Island, 7th statewide). 2. Hunter Brown (Creekside). 3. Colin White (Nease). 4. Ralph Hamilton/Dominick Grubb (Bartram Trail). Dark horse: Sebastian Lopez/Mason Ganion (Oakleaf). Note: Hamilton is kind of the wild card of this bracket; he could go anywhere from 2-5 if he’s here (and I think he will be, there’s more options here). Going to be good quarter and consi matches. Nobody will come that close to Smith.
182: 1. Jalen Hines (Creekside, 9th statewide). 2. Nick Janssen (Fleming Island, 13th statewide). 3. Tony Carter (Mandarin). 4. Grubb/Hamilton (Bartram Trail). Dark horse: Onjel Caraballo (Oakleaf). Note: Again, if Hamilton’s here, he would get out, but I think it’s fourth or not qualifying; the top 3 are that good. Caraballo has a decent shot depending on this. Final should be closer than matchup at Clay, but Hines appears to have found his home wrestling up.
195: 1. Jeffrey Lascano (Fleming Island, 5th statewide). 2. Clarke Hamilton (Bartram Trail). 3. Josh Benavides (Creekside). 4. Mario Powers (Nease). Dark horse: Isiah Schevchook (Oakleaf). Note: Appears to be some room in this weight, a little less if Hamilton’s here (he has missed some time). Lascano is the clear choice to win, though.
220: 1. Chad Nix (Fleming Island, 1st statewide). 2. Jason Mitchell (Oakleaf). 3. Donald Haraway (Nease). 4. De’shawn Wise-Minor (Mandarin). Dark horse: Robbie Balke (Creekside). Note: No wrestler in the district is a heavier favorite than Nix, and Mitchell should be the overwhelming choice to join him in the final. After that, though…there’s potential for a motivated kid.
285: 1. Raul Gonzalez (Fleming Island, 11th statewide). 2. Josh Murrell (Oakleaf, 10th statewide). 3. Nick Wilbur (Mandarin). 4. Ryan Piersza (Bartram Trail). Dark horse: Gus Martinez (Sandalwood). Note: I think the top four is pretty well set, but if Martinez — who’s gotten to the region tournament before — comes back (he’s been out a while), that makes things a bit more interesting and competitive. Should be a very good final and two very good semis.
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