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#TurkeyNWrestling2020-21: 2A-District 1

For the past couple of seasons, and certainly last year, Pace was a slam-dunk choice — pardon the mixed metaphor — to win the 2A-District 1 titles.
Thus, the choice to continue choosing the Patriots to win once again this season is apparent, but it shouldn’t be as easy a path for Pace this year.
The Patriots enter this year having to replace four seniors from last year’s team. That cadre of graduates included 2020 2A state champion Gabe Jacobs at 182, 2020 placer Derrick Lancero (4th at 120) and four-year starter and 2020 qualifier Ethan Billhimer (126).
But Pace has plenty of returning weaponry, in the form of battle-tested experience. Leading that charge will be senior Joseph Cortez, who qualified out for states last year as well (152). Joining Cortez are 2019 2A Kissimmee qualifiers in senior Cam Goodenow (285) and junior Atticus Waters (132), both of whom were one match from states last year.
Combined with fellow senior and 2x blood-rounder Wyatt Dillon (220 last year), the Patriots could have back as many as 12 key performers from last year’s roster.
Gulf Breeze should make the Patriots sweat for every point and every spot, though. The Dolphins were third in both duals and traditional format last year, but appeared to find a good lineup formula at season’s end.
Coming back for Gulf Breeze this season are as many as 12 impact wrestlers from last year’s team, including 11 post-season starters. Senior Ian Daily (132 last year) and sophomore Nate Weber (106 in March) each won a match at states a year ago, and they’ll headline a roster that had several kids in the mix for Kissimmee.
Gulf Breeze’s graduation loss was substantial, with three post-season starters and three kids that provided some solid depth in the Dolphins’ regular-season lineup, and they’ll be difficult to replace.
Ft Walton Beach was last year’s double district runnerup, and the Vikings could get back to that spot once again behind the strength of their lowers. They’ve got as many as 10 key kids back for this year, led by 2020 state qualifier Brandon Mallin (120 in March) plus a couple that were on the doorstep.
However, whether Ft Walton Beach will get there depends largely upon how quickly it can replace four post-season starters that graduated, That group includes 2020 state placer Kaleb Williams (220) and fellow Kissimmee qualifiers Patrick Adams (182) and Eddie Alexis (195).
Tate’s the wildcard in this district, I think. The Aggies have some solid upsides. They didn’t lose anyone to graduation, and were the only team that lost less than four seniors from last year. They’ve got up to 12 possible impact kids from last year, several of them upper-year starters.
However, Tate hasn’t been in the top half of the district in any of the past three seasons while this year’s crop of Aggies have been enrolled. And, at the same time, only two of this year’s possible 12 returners won a match at Region 1, and none got to the second day in that tournament. So that has to change.
Should either Ft Walton Beach or Tate struggle more than expected this season, I’d pencil in Niceville as the likeliest candidate to break into the top half. The Eagles do have some multi-year returners back in their cadre up to nine key performers. On the other hand, they also have six post-season starters to replace due to graduation, including 2020 state qualifiers in Jayden Pinto (132 in March) and Keane Creager (145).
Choctaw didn’t get hit quite as hard as the Eagles, both in terms of graduation loss (four seniors moved on in June) or in terms of size of the returning class. The Indians have as many as 12 impact returners back this year, but the downside is that just one of those 12 had a Region 1 victory.
Both Crestview and Milton took solid graduation hits last year, as both the Bulldogs and Panthers lost six key seniors in June. In both cases also, the teams’ sets of returning wrestlers — up to five in both cases — have a few post-season starters sprinkled into their mix, but none reached the region round.
Projected finish: 1. Pace. 2. Gulf Breeze. 3. Ft Walton Beach. 4. Tate. 5. Niceville. 6. Choctaw. 7. Crestview. 8. Milton.
CHOCTAW (Ft Walton Beach)
Coach: Charles Bertubin, 3rd year.
2019-20: 7-11 in duals. 18th at Border Wars VII, 22nd at Capital City, 11th at Gator Brawl, 8th at George Mulligan Memorial.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District quarterfinalist; Traditional: 7th at district, 29th at region. 2019 — Duals: District quarterfinalist; Traditional: 5th at district, T-21st at region. 2018 — Duals: 5th at district; Traditional: 4th at district, 17th at region, T-69th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Deagan Kilpatrick (junior, 18-20 at 120, 1 match from regions); Ethan Pfhul (senior, 15-14 at 120, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Steven Banfield (sophomore, 16-25 at 126, 1 match from regions); Jacob Johns (sophomore, 6-31 at 132, 0-2 at districts); Eli Devoid (junior, 12-13 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Tristan Grissom (sophomore, 4-19 at 138, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Ben Semenov (senior, 18-21 at 145, 1 match from regions); Samuel Santos (junior, 17-19 at 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Gamaliel Harris (senior, 8-14 at 182, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Peter Skehan (junior, 6-12 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Caden Nimmo (junior, 8-18 at 195, 1 match from regions); Jesse Sarver (junior, 6-23 at 220, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (graduation): David Tambula (26-10 at 113, district runnerup, did not compete at regions); Sherman Fuller (25-17 at 152, 1 match from regions); Joshua Lizana (2-16 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Michael Barton (15-17 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Matmen’s take: Indians will begin this year with more returning experience than they did a year ago, even with four post-season starters graduating. But Choctaw has just one returning win from last year’s region tournament; that has to get better.
CRESTVIEW
Coach: Damon Welch, 3rd year.
2019-20: 10-12 in duals reported to Matmen/searchable on Track. 14th at Border Wars VII, 7th at The Bash, 9th at Gator Brawl, 12th at George Mulligan Memorial, 10th at Wakulla IBT.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District quarterfinalist; Traditional: 6th at district, T-26th at region. 2019 — Duals: District quarterfinalist; Traditional: 6th at district, 24th at region. 2018 — Duals: 3rd at district; Traditional: 7th at district, 13th at region, T-64th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Tyler Mason (senior, 8-18 at 132, 1 match from regions); Benjamin Gross (senior, 13-22 at 145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Lance Sanders (sophomore, 3-13 at 145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Layne Franks (junior, 26-23 at 160, 1 match from regions); Mathew Sharp (senior, 14-30 at 195, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): AJ Richardson (29-20 at 126, 1 match from regions); Andrew Sippos (7-11 at 132, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Easton Flamand (23-28 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Jakob Allen (15-21 at 145, 0-2 at districts); Julio Fernandez (32-10 at 182, district runnerup, did not compete at regions); Kennard Madden (35-9 at 220, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Rolando Hernandez (24-15 at 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Matmen’s take: With no returners having region-tournament experience in 2019-20, and almost all of the top Bulldogs having moved on from graduation, Crestview faces an uphill battle this winter. First task is to rebuild toward a full lineup.
FT WALTON BEACH
Coach: Tobi Marez, 15th year.
2019-20: 6-7 in duals. 6th at Cam Brown Classic, 14th at Swede Umbach Invitational, 8th at Southeastern Pools, 2nd at Smiths Station Invitational, 2nd at Wakulla IBT, 13th at Braves Invitational.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District runnerup, region quarterfinalist; Traditional: District runnerup, region 5th, T-28th at states. 2019 — Duals: District semifinalist; Traditional: 2nd at district, 7th at region, 40th at states. 2018 — Duals: T-7th at district; Traditional: 6th at district, 15th at region, T-69th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Reid Gannon (senior, 13-25 at 106, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Brandon Mallin (senior, 35-17 at 120, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Weston Burbidge (senior, 35-19 at 126, district 4th, 1 match from states); Darius Brundidge (sophomore, 4-21 at 132, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Max Vosburgh (senior, 2-13 at 132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Martin Muniz (senior, 12-18 at 138, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Malachi Santiago (senior, 31-18 at 145, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Caleb Tourgee (senior, 28-12 at 160, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Carter Tobik (sophomore, 10-29 at 170, 1 match from regions); Spencer Mackenzie (junior, 23-23 at 285, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): Jean Maldonaldo (34-9 at 152, district champ, 1 match from states); Patrick Adams (34-18 at 182, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Kaleb Williams (35-12 at 220, district runnerup, region chap, state 6th); Eddie Alexis (31-17 at 195, district 3rd, region 3rd, 0-2 at states).
Matmen’s take: In past years, Vikings would have suffered heavily from losing three state-qualifying graduates; this year, Ft Walton Beach should have no problem remaining in the top half of the district. Will need a few more bigs, however.
GULF BREEZE
Coach: Dave Daily, 5th year.
2019-20: 26-9 in duals. 9th at Border Wars VII, 5th at Indians (AL) Invitational, 6th at The Bash, 6th at Gator Brawl.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District semifinalist; Traditional: District 3rd, 12th at region, T-51st at states. 2019 — Duals: District runnerup, region quarterfinalist; Traditional: 3rd at district, 9th at region, T-50th at states. 2018 — Duals: 4th at district; Traditional: 1st at district, 3rd at region, T-34th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Nate Weber (sophomore, 39-15 at 106, district champ, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Elijah Johnson (sophomore, 18-28 at 113, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Logan Merritt (junior, 35-16 at 120, 1 match from regions); Colson Elliott (sophomore, 54-12 at 126, district champ, 1 match from states); Ian Daily (senior, 17-5 at 132, district champ, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Brennden Nita (sophomore, 11-6 at 132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Garret Rudick (sophomore, 37-24 at 152, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Sean Jones (senior, 7-3 at 160, 1 match from regions); Hunter Dupont (senior, 12-8 at 170, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Micah Barker (junior, 17-18 at 182, 1 match from regions); Julian McCulley (senior, 35-22 at 195, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Bryson Wick (junior, 23-23 at 220, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Dylan Lawrence (49-11 at 138, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Kelly Scanlon (24-14 at 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Wyatt Sise (18-14 at 145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Mason Bourgeois (31-28 at 160, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Melvin Beganovic (1-12 at 285, 0-2 at districts); Cameron Anderson (12-15 at 285, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Matmen’s take: Dolphins did lose three post-season starters to graduation, but they’ve got nearly every weight covered with returning experience. If they find a heavy, that will be good. Youngsters that came in last year made immediate, solid impacts.
MILTON
Coach: Chafan Marsh, 4th year.
2019-20: 1-20 in duals. T-18th at Smiths Station Invitational, 10th at George Mulligan Memorial, T-36th at Girls’ State.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District quarterfinalist; Traditional: 8th at district, 21st at region. 2019 — Duals: District quarterfinalist; Traditional: 8th at district, 26th at region. 2018 — Duals: T-7th at district; Traditional: 8th at district, 20th at region, T-69th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Coleman Barnhill (sophomore, 3-18 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Brock Wells (sophomore, 4-23 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Michael McCain (senior, 7-17 at 145, 1 match from regions); Zane Allen (sophomore, 1-6 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Kyle Flores (sophomore, 3-14 at 285, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Key losses (graduation): Micah Kendrick (12-16 at 132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Brandon Nicholson (22-8 at 138, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Sarinah Anderson (6-9 at 138, 2-2 at girls’ state); Joslyn Anderson (13-19 at 152, girls’ state 5th, 1 match from regions); Daniel McDonal (30-7 at 160, district champ, 1 match from states); Alec Cavazos (14-7 at 285, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Matmen’s take: Panthers made an impact in the girls’ side of the sport last year, but those girls have no graduated. Top three on the boys side have also graduated and returners have no 2019-20 region experience. Rebuilding effort has to continue.
NICEVILLE
Coach: Tom Bierly, 3rd year.
2018-19: 6-9 in duals. 11th at Border Wars VII, 17th at Capital City Classic, 22nd at Scott Rohrer Memorial, T-4th at George Mulligan Memorial, 7th at Wakulla IBT, 16th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District semifinalist; Traditional: 4th at district, 16th at region, 61st at states. 2019 — Duals: District semifinalist; Traditional: 4th at district, 15th at region. 2018 — Duals: District champ, region semifinalist; Traditional: 3rd at district, T-6th at region, T-27th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Ethan Pinto (sophomore, 30-16 at 113, district champ, 1 match from states); Noah Tritz (senior, 19-22 at 120, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Andrew Randolph (sophomore, 4-10 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Ethan Bueno (junior, 19-25 at 126, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Austin Hunt (sophomore, 7-10 at 132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Ty Hawkins (junior, 22-27 at 138, 1 match from regions); Martin Black (junior, 19-9 at 160, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Bryce Travis (junior, 18-21 at 170, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Joe Hanson (sophomore, 7-18 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Key losses (graduation): Jayden Pinto (40-19 at 132, district runnerup, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Keane Creager (46-17 at 145, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Jared Dieters (6-16 at 170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Dante Barrett (7-24 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Sean Ripley (12-8 at 195, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Ramsey Kidder (30-20 at 220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
Matmen’s take: Coach Bierly is nearly fully back for the Eagles, who have several starters back as well. Recruitment among the freshman class last year was solid. Finding some upper weights will be this year’s priority, but team should have more stability.
PACE
Coach: Reggie Allen, 3rd year at school.
2019-20: 23-4 in duals. 6th at Border Wars VII, 26th at Scott Rohrer Hoover, 2nd at Gator Brawl, T-92nd at Girls’ State.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District champ, region semifinalist; Traditional: District champ, region 3rd, 11th at states. 2019 — Duals: District champ, region quarterfinalist; Traditional: District champ, 3rd at region, 22nd at states. 2018 — Duals: 5th at district; Traditional: 2nd at district, 9th at region, T-69th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Natalie Lugo (junior, 19-31 at 106, 1-2 at girls’ state, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Jacob Hobbs (junior, 24-17 at 113, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Atticus Waters (junior, 40-16 at 132, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Seth O’Gara (senior, 31-12 at 138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Camden Friend (senior, 15-11 at 145, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Joseph Cortez (senior, 39-9 at 152, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Brody Andrews (senior, 27-17 at 160, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Aidan Bryan (junior, 12-15 at 170, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Nick Adams (senior, 9-6 at 182, 1 match from regions); Wyatt Dillon (senior, 29-9 at 220, district champ, 1 match from states); Krystopher Collins (senior, 9-16 at 220, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Cameron Goodenow (senior, 43-8 at 285, district champ, 1 match from states).
Key losses (graduation): Derrick Lancero (56-6 at 120, district champ, region champ, state 4th); Ethan Billhimer (56-4 at 126, district runnerup, region 3rd, did not compete at states); Michael Burgess (19-16 at 145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Gabe Jacobs (59-0 at 195, district champ, region champ, state CHAMPION).
Matmen’s take: Patriots still have enough in the tank, even with losing three state qualifiers, two medalists and one champ, to be the favorite once again in the district. Returning group is battle-tested, with all juniors and seniors back.
TATE (Cantonment)
Coach: Aaron Telatovich, 3rd year (8th overall).
2019-20: 5-17 in duals as reported last year. 14th at Gator Brawl, 13th at George Mulligan Memorial.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District quarterfinalist: Traditional: 5th at district, 30th at region. 2019 — Duals: district quarterfinalist; Traditional: 7th at district, 19th at region, T-50th at states. 2018 — Duals: District runnerup, region quarterfinalist; Traditional: 5th at district, 10th at region, T-22nd at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Daniel McGaha (sophomore, 22-13 at 120, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Marcus Virgin (senior, 23-7 at 126, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Caiden Stone (sophomore, 5-14 at 132, 1 match from regions); David Luckey (sophomore, 6-8 at 138, 1 match from regions); Logan Drummond (senior, 10-16 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Chad Luckey (senior, 21-19 at 152, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Michael Higgins (senior, 12-22 at 160, 0-2 at districts); Kaden McDonald (sophomore, 6-17 at 170, 1 match from regions); Jacob Turner (sophomore, 9-17 at 182, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Ashtyn Allen (senior, 13-5 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Gabriel McKinley (senior, 19-13 at 220, 1 match from regions); Landen George (sophomore, 16-16 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): None.
Matmen’s take: The good news for the Aggies is that they don’t lose any starters from last year’s team, but the bad news is that last year’s returners had just two wins as a group at the Region 1 tournament. Having another year as starters should help, though.

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