1A-Region 2 preview
When & where: Palm Bay HS, located in Melbourne. First session is set for noon Friday (as all are in all classes statewide). Saturday’s first session is set for 10 a.m., the second session typically is at the discretion of the tournament director for a mid- to late-afternoon start.
Team favorite: Lake. Highland. Prep. Next?
Can anybody challenge the Highlanders?: I still want to say, as I have for the past couple of seasons, “No. Next?,” but at least this year there’s a team in the field capable of a region title finish if they were in any other region, and that would be the host, Palm Bay. But the Highlanders will (at least) probably double up the hosts as well.
Local outlook in a nutshell: With a full district in the coverage area, I’d suspect Atlantic will probably be strongest among area teams, with an opportunity for a top-5 team finish. Palatka and Pedro Menendez have chances for the top 10, and should get a couple of qualifiers out. Keystone Heights, FSDB and Lake Weir have some decent second-day chances, but a state run might be tricky to pull off in this region.
Print this region’s brackets here: REGION 2 PAIRINGS
The key thing to remember: Prove me wrong. Or prove me right. I like either one. I’m not telling which one is better. You’ll have to figure that one out for yourself.
Matmen’s state qualifier predictions, sure to be wrong (all state rankings per Matmen-endorsed Brant Parsons/Orlando Sentinel rankings) —
106: 1. Ethan Rivera (Lake Highland Prep, 1st). 2. Tyler Perrow (Palm Bay, 2nd). 3. Keith Germain (Weeki Wachee, 14th). 4. Raider Morelli (Space Coast, 11th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Tyler Rodier (Hernando, 16th) & Josh Rivas (Cocoa Beach).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Alexander McMiller (Satellite, 17th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Talon Maple (Zephyrhills Christian) v Dustin Kohn (The Master’s Academy).
My too-short take: I think Perrow has the easier half of the bracket, but Rivera is just not a typical middle-schooler. Germain should have a leg up on the rest of the field for third.
Local outlook: Palatka’s Mikade Harvey has a tough first-rounder in Rivas, who’s experienced, right out the chute. Winning that is critical, because a first-round loss most likely means having to face Morelli in consi round 2 just to get to Saturday.
113: 1. Elijah Lusk (Merritt Island, 1st). 2. Josh Boykin (Lake Highland Prep, 6th). 3. Shaver Jackson (Palm Bay, 8th). 4. Anthony Edwards (Space Coast, 9th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Bernie Alvarez (Atlantic).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Heaven-Leigh Jackson (Hernando).
First-round match worth price of admission: Alvarez v Anthony Meyer (Bishop Moore).
My too-short take: Boykin was a JV state champion and he’s a Highlander so that is going to count for quite a lot, but I think Lusk is at a level where he can take that in stride and win.
Local outlook: Alvarez has a solid shot at Saturday wrestling, with a winnable first-rounder and then most likely Shaver Jackson in the quarters, but I’m not sure he gets past Edwards (or Boykin) in that first Saturday round. He should be able to take care of business in the second round of consis on Friday.
120: 1. David McClelland (Lake Highland Prep, 2nd). 2. Jamey Bruner (Atlantic, 9th). 3. Brandon Cody (Master’s Academy, 4th). 4. Ontarriyus Reid (Palatka, 10th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Keyshaun Taylor (Leesburg, 15th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Billy Day (Cocoa Beach, 13th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Dominick Scaffedi (Weeki Wachee) v Lance Gardenhire (FSDB).
My too-short take: McClelland should be the class of the field; if Bruner gets past Cody in the quarters, reaching the final by comparison almost looks to be an easier task.
Local outlook: The Bruner-to-final take is based on experience; Bruner was a match short of medaling at state last year. I’d be surprised if Reid duplicates his 2019 region-title run, but if he gets past McClelland in the quarters, he might just do it. Gardenhire has a tough quarter, with four solid kids in it; Saturday is a possibility. That will be tougher for Keystone Heights’ Samuel Ulsch, who’s in another solid quarter with few holes.
126: 1. Danny Nini (Lake Highland Prep, 1st). 2. Rocco Senia (Palm Bay, 5th). 3. Billy Gould (Hernando, 12th). 4. Drevon Wallace (Palatka, 14th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Ronald Theilacker (Cocoa, 15th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Seth Brown (Leesburg, 10th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Dylan Rivera (Space Coast) v Lane Beck (Weeki Wachee).
My too-short take: Nini should at least bonus-point through each round of the tournament. Senia could get tests from Citrus’ Kobe Rosario (11th) and Gould, but he’s the bottom-half choice.
Local outlook: Wallace has a pretty reasonable path to the semis (Theilacker in the quarter won’t be an easy out), but then he gets Nini, with (as I project) Brown in the consi semis and could even take third. Atlantic’s Tyler Livingston has a rough go in round 1, but from there has a solid Saturday chance. Pedro Menendez’s Gavin Rosario has an all-Rosario first-rounder and a possibility at Saturday, if he gets past Theilacker (or Wallace). FSDB’s Ty Snow is in the toughest quarter (the second, with Nini as a first-rounder).
132: 1. William Kennedy (Lake Highland Prep, 2nd). 2. Michael Brown (Hernando, 11th). 3. Dominick Carter (Palm Bay, 12th). 4. Brandon Lewis (Palatka, 18th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Michael Watson (Cocoa Beach, 13th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Azizbek Rustamiy (Atlantic, 20th); Sean Meyers (FSDB).
First-round match worth price of admission: Watson v Jesse Pounders (Citrus).
My too-short take: Kennedy should be OK at least through the semi, if not all the way through. The Watson-Brown quarterfinal winner will be in the final, I think.
Local outlook: Lewis has a solid path to the semis and should have an opportunity to wrestle into state at least once if not twice; Rustamiy (Kennedy) and Meyers (Carter) have tough quarterfinals, but both could get to Saturday, where they’d face each other, with the winner most likely facing Lewis. Pedro Menendez’s Logan Meehan is in the the second quarter, and that’s probably the hardest to get out of, with 88 experienced wins in that quarter.
138: 1. Chris Rivera (Lake Highland Prep, 2nd). 2. Michael Squires (Space Coast, 5th). 3. Braden Baxter (Palm Bay, 6th). 4. Jason Perez (Hernando, 8th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Jeremiah Epps (Atlantic, 20th); Caleb Wood (Brooksville, Central, 19th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Noah Dovin (Merritt Island, 12th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Jaxson Morris (Nature Coast) v Maxal Simpson (Citrus).
My too-short take: Rivera won’t be touched in this bracket, and Squires is nearly as solid a favorite in the top half.
Local outlook: Epps has a good semifinal shot, but then will have to go through either Squires or Baxter or (most likely) both. If he can turn back one of those two, he’ll be in the show. The road gets harder for the rest of the District 5 kids. Palatka’s DJ Nealy should get a third match after facing Dovin in the first round but that will be either Simpson or Morris. Getting a third match will be a good tournament for either Menendez’s Alex Binkiewicz or FSDB’s Joshua O’Connor.
145: 1. Justin Rivera (Lake Highland Prep, 1st). 2. Jack Dinberg (Palm Bay, 5th). 3. James Clark-Herndon (Cocoa Beach, 6th). 4. Jeremiah Funk (Cocoa).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Avante Chamble (Atlantic); Logan Simpson (Citrus, 16th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Cameron Rima (Villages, 18th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Jesse Florkowski (Nature Coast) v Antonio Bundy (Bishop Moore, 18th).
My too-short take: Much the same as at 138; Rivera won’t be touched, and Dinberg is the solid favorite on the top half.
Local outlook: Like Epps at 138, Chamble has a good semifinal shot, with a winnable first-rounder; if he can get past Bundy, he’ll have two chances to wrestle for states. It’s tougher sledding for Pedro Menendez’s Jose Ruiz, Palatka’s Adaris Medina and Lake Weir’s Grant Kincannon. Ruiz is most likely of the three to get a third match, but all three would be doing exceptionally well to get to Saturday.
152: 1. Noah Castillo (Lake Highland Prep, 1st). 2. Billy Fetzner (Hernando, 12th). 3. Gavin Wheeler (Bishop Moore, 7th). 4. Cameron Komat (Palm Bay, 13th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Kevin Coon (Villages).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Cole Kanehl (Hudson, 20th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Coon v Hunter Galloway (Astronaut).
My too-short take: Castillo is the class of the field. Should be a much more competitive top-half semi and certainly could go Wheeler’s way, but should be one of those two between Wheeler & Fetzner.
Local outlook: Lake Weir’s Dean Marquis has a decent shot at wrestling on Satruday, even with Wheeler in the quarters, as one of Citrus’ second-line kids would be in play in match #3 Friday night, but getting to the blood round would be a tall order. Pedro Menendez’s Nate Luckadoo also has a winnable first-rounder and a shot, not a great one but a shot, for Saturday.
160: 1. Dominic Isola (Lake Highland Prep, 2nd). 2. Josh Pritz (Hernando, 3rd). 3. Anthony Holden (Palm Bay, 19th). 4. David Arcieri (Atlantic, 16th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Aidan Mayberry (Weeki Wachee, 14th); Caleb Griffith (Satellite).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): None.
First-round match worth price of admission: Griffith v Jose Flores (Nature Coast)/Troy Sawyer (Cocoa) v Mayberry.
My too-short take: This isn’t a walkover for Isola; Pritz is going to give a lot of fight and is plenty battle-tested against some very good kids. Wouldn’t expect a bonus point in the final.
Local outlook: Arcieri is in the same boat as Epps and Chamble both were, but he has a little bit less of an uphill blood-rounder against either Griffith or Sawyer (as I project). Of the other three area kids in the draw, Keystone’s Sheppard Wingate has the lightest quarter, and should win a match out of it, one way or the other, but getting to Saturday will be tougher. Both Pedro Menendez’s Jared Howard and Palatka’s Samuel Lafferty would be doing well to get third matches, let alone see Saturday.
170: 1. Bailey Flanagan (Lake Highland Prep, 3rd). 2. Ethan Hatcher (Villages, 4th). 3. Connor Spossey (Pedro Menendez, 5th). 4. Khalil Mitchell (Rockledge, 19th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Robert Keldie (Zephyrhills Christian), 18th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Austin McCombs (Hernando, 17th); Bryan Bartos (Palm Bay).
First-round match worth price of admission: Noah Anderson (Atlantic) v Michael McCarthy (Satellite).
My too-short take: Six ranked kids, four in the top half; Flanagan’s bottom half is the easier half. Hatcher’s run to final won’t be easy, and Flanagan will find an experienced battle-tested kid there.
Local outlook: If Spossey can get past Keldie in the quarters, he’ll have two chances to wrestle into the state field, and I have a hard time believing he would lose both of them. Anderson has a solid but winnable first-rounder, and even the semis are not completely out of reach, with McCombs in the quarter. Either way, he should certainly be able to wrestle on the second day.
182: 1. Hunter Brinkman (Lake Highland Prep, 1st). 2. Matthew Lewis (Palm Bay, 3rd). 3. Colby Fisher (Merritt Island, 4th). 4. Blake Coleman (Citrus, 6th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Delcory Allen (Leesburg, 13th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Maddox Romain (Hernando); Christian Henry (Atlantic).
First-round match worth price of admission: Fisher v Henry.
My too-short take: Brinkman’s bracket is probably tougher in the quarter, with Fisher/Henry winner, than in the semi; Lewis’ path has Coleman and (as I project) Allen in it en route to the final.
Local outlook: Henry, who I projected as the district champ, did himself no favors in finishing third, as he might have to fight out of the consis from jump, what with Fisher in round 1. Still, his chances for Saturday are good. Keystone’s Eliyah Cole, the District 5 champ is looking at Allen in the quarters, and Allen’s seen much more competition, but you never know with full certainty in non-LHP situations; very possibly it could be Cole and Henry with Saturday on the line. Pedro Menendez’s Dane Litzinger has a winnable first-rounder, and Saturday is in play; he proved he could rise to prove folks wrong at districts. FSDB’s David Chinchilla is in a tough spot, in a quarter with 113 wins around him; a third match would be a good day.
195: 1. Easton Tobia (Lake Highland Prep, 2nd). 2. Daylyn Randolph (Merritt Island, 6th). 3. Jahree Holmes (Palm Bay, 7th). 4. Christopher Spellman (Hernando, 10th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Chris Morris (Satellite); Jack Tilton (Palatka).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Mason St John (Villages, 11th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Spellman v Torianno Macklin (Rockledge).
My too-short take: Two very good semis should lead to a solid final; Tobia will certainly get tested by the beach-side trio of Morris, Holmes and Randolph.
Local outlook: Tilton has a very good chance for Saturday wrestling, with a quite winnable first-rounder; Holmes might be too much in the quarters, but Tilton should get at least two more matches after that and has a shot at wrestling for states. Pedro Menendez’s Logan Parham also has a winnable first-rounder, with Randolph as a quarterfinal opponent. Parham has a shot for Saturday. That will be tougher for Keystone Heights’ Steven Raab and Atlantic’s John Wyman, for whom third matches will be an accomplishment.
220: 1. Matt Kaplan (Lake Highland Prep, 1st). 2. Qwenton Coney (Hernando, 4th). 3. Devon Krajewski (Rockledge, 10th). 4. Jacob Forbes (First Academy, 8th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Ozkan Aydin (Palm Bay, 13th); Roderick Harris (Weeki Wachee, 9th).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Nic Heise (Villages, 17th).
First-round match worth price of admission: Aydin v William Akossou-Harvey (Hudson).
My too-short take: Kaplan will be just fine in this bracket, in which he is likely to face three ranked opponents along the way. Should be a great semi between Coney and Krajewski.
Local outlook: Atlantic’s Michael Sklare did well in winning District 5, but after a bye into the quarters, he’s going to have rough waters, with Aydin or Akossou-Harvey in the quarter and a tough out in consi round 2. Tough bottom-half quarters will make even a third match a good tournament for Palatka’s Lane Heuer and Keystone Heights’ Gabe Adams.
285: 1. Malik Jones (Zephyrhills Christian, 1st). 2. Jordan Love (Rockledge, 5th). 3. Jared Jackson (Atlantic, 3rd). 4. Carlos Gerardino (Palm Bay, 11th).
Dark horse (top half of bracket): Hunter Gfell (Cocoa).
Dark horse (bottom half of bracket): Francisco Tobar (Lake Highland Prep); Dajuan McCullough (Zephyrhills, 10th); Sam Fleming (Hernando, 9th).
First-round match worth price of admission: McCullough v Marlon Williams (Palatka).
My too-short take: Even in this very loaded bracket — seven kids are ranked — Jones should have no(t much) trouble moving through the bracket, even against three ranked opponents. With four ranked opponents in the bottom half, whoever gets out will have earned it.
Local outlook: Jackson will have two ranked, but somewhat familiar, opponents en route to the semis; that will probably also be the case for his blood-round opponent. He should be OK to get out to states once again. Williams has a top-10 opponent in round 1, so he’ll have an early chance to make a statement; a win could maybe get him to the semis and Love or Fleming. He’s got a puncher’s chance for Kissimmee. It’s going to be tougher for Keystone’s Cody Saley, who might have a winnable match in the consis, but getting to Saturday will mean finding a new level.
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