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#TurkeyNWrestling2020-21: 3A-District 1

Running the north doesn’t just happen. It takes hard work from everyone, from the newest freshman to the leadership at the top.
And that is how Fleming Island has picked off five consecutive 3A-District 1 traditional titles, three district dual titles, five Region 1 traditional titles, three region dual titles, top-3 state traditional finishes each of the last three years, and two dual state runnerup showings. Outworking the competition.
Often times, the toughest competition Fleming Island sees locally is within its own room. This year, that will mean more than maybe it has recently. But when most of a team has to be replaced due to graduation, as Fleming’s did back in 2016, the Golden Eagles just started the rebuild with in-house kids and continued to dominate.
That’s the story once again after Fleming will have to replace eight June graduates, led by now-Campbell freshman and 2020 3A state champ Chad Nix (220), plus five placers in Luke Chop (3rd at 160), Dalton Williams (4th at 138), Tanner Hill (5th at 152), Gannon Janssen (6th at 145) and Jeffrey Lascano (6th at 195), plus state qualifiers Ryan Hobson (120) and Nick Janssen (182). Additionally, junior and 2020 state qualifier Isaac Padgett (132) moved out-of-state.
So as they did when Chop and Williams were freshmen, the Golden Eagles will rebuild largely from within this year. And they still have as many as nine key returners from last year’s team back, including two current or former placers in seniors Hunter Herrington (3rd in March at 113) and Gavin Smith (5th in 2019 at 170). Two more Golden Eagles reached the second day at Region 1 last year, and Fleming got a boost when senior David Parkes, a 3A state qualifier (152) last year, transferred over from Oakleaf.
Oakleaf doesn’t have Fleming Island’s room, but one thing that the Clay County Knights have the most of in the district is key returners — up to 15 in all — and while they might not close the gap yet, Oakleaf has shown it can get numbers out, which led to the Knights’ ascendancy to the runnerup spot and first appearance in the FHSAA Region 1 dual team tournament.
Leading those returners will be junior and 2020 state qualifier Marcus McGee (120 in February). The Knights also have six additional Region 1 qualifiers, including two wrestlers who reached the blood round.
In addition to Parkes, Oakleaf does have to replace two additional post-season starters, but the room is probably there to replace with returning experience.
Creekside seemed to weather the jump to 3A with a quietly-consistent year. This season, the St Johns Knights enter with four 2020 post-season starters graduated, led by state qualifier Jalen Hines (182).
Still, though, Creekside has a number of returners back, up to possibly 12 regular- or post-season starters back. That number includes six Region 1 qualifiers, three of whom got to the second day of competition.
The Bartram Trail lineup is usually one that’s a work in progress, though sometimes continuity can be a good thing. The Bears graduated four post- or regular-season starters from their lineup last year, and six seniors in all will need to be replaced this season.
But a large part of Bartram’s post-season lineup is back, with up to 13 key contributors potentially returning. Sophomore and 2020 state qualifier Ethan Vugman (106 last year) leads that group charge, with five additional Region 1 qualifiers returning.
If anyone in the top half falters, Nease is the team most likely to step in. The St Johns Panthers did lose their two most talented kids among a quartet of June 2020 graduates, all of them post-season starters, but Nease does have emerging talent at several weights. The Panthers’ individual highlight is sophomore Brielle Bibla, who was 5th at girls’ state in February (106) and might have gotten to every possible nearby event, and many not-so-nearby, this off-season.
Mandarin should be better this year. Having no wrestlers lost to graduation will help a lot in terms of continuity, but overall team cohesion should be better as well. The Mustangs have up to 11 impact returners back for this year, including five Region 1 qualifiers. Upper weights appear to be Mandarin’s strength; if it can find some solid middles, Mustangs could contend for the top half.
Returning experience will be a bit more of an issue for Sandalwood and Atlantic Coast as the season unfolds. The Saints have the better of it, with up to nine post- or regular-season starters back this year, but only three of those nine have Region 1 experience, and they graduated three starters, including 2020 state qualifier Lavaughn Brown, from the club. The Stingrays had just one graduate lost to this year’s team, but none of the up-to-five returners that Atlantic Coast can call upon this year got to regions in February.
Projected finish: 1. Fleming Island. 2. Oakleaf. 3. Creekside. 4. Bartram Trail. 5. Nease. 6. Mandarin. 7. Sandalwood. 8. Atlantic Coast.
ATLANTIC COAST (Jacksonville)
Coach: Hector Zayas, 2nd year.
2019-20: 3-14 in duals. 13th at Battle of the Border, 10th at Gateway Conference.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 8th. 2019 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 10th, 30th at region. 2018 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 10th, 33rd at region.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Eric Harper (senior, 17-10 at 120, 1 match from regions); Nick Shay (senior, 9-13 at 126, 1 match from regions); Joel Dudley (junior, 14-12 at 138, 0-2 at districts); Parsa Mokhlesabadi (junior, 6-11 at 145, 0-2 at districts); John Johnson (sophomore, 11-12 at 195, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Erik Llolli (1-12 at 132, 1 match from regions).
Matmen’s take: Small team once again expected for the Stingrays, but the group seemed to keep its head up throughout Zayas’ first year despite not sending anyone to regions. That should change in February. Team could return to top half in the Gateway this season.
BARTRAM TRAIL (St Johns)
Coach: Chad Parker, 7th year.
2019-20: 30-7 in duals. 17th at Flagler Rotary, 15th at Clay Rotary, T-59th at Girls’ State.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District 3rd; Traditional: District 4th, 15th at region, T-52nd at states. 2019 — Duals: 2A-District 4 3rd; Traditional: 2A-District 4 3rd, 2A-Region 1 4th, 23rd at 2A states. 2018 — Duals: 2A-District 4 3rd; Traditional: 2A-District 4 4th, 2A-Region 1 T-6th, T-16th at 2A states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Ethan Vugman (sophomore, 54-9 at 106, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Coleton Memory (sophomore, 6-13 at 113, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Jacob August (sophomore, 10-6 at 120, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Trevor Tagarelli (senior, 38-12 at 126, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Preston Pena (sophomore, 19-12 at 132, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Matthew Tayloe (junior, 22-18 at 138, 1 match from regions); Abby Cooper (senior, 2-4* at 140, 0-2 at girls’ state); Ayden Nguyen (junior, 20-11 at 152, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); John McNames (sophomore, 43-15 at 160, district 4th, 2-2 at regions); Dominick Grubb (junior, 14-7 at 170, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Damien Ortega (junior, 13-15 at 195, 1 match from regions); Robert Hunter (senior, 11-19 at 220, 1 match from regions); Ryan Piersza (senior, 42-12 at 285, district 4th, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation or as noted): Michael Moore (30-8 at 113, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Emmanuelle Sutherland (11-2* at 128, 3-2 at girls’ state); Stephen Farris (31-10 at 145, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Julia Perry (0-3* at 154, 0-2 at girls’ state); Ralph Hamilton (27-11 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Clarke Hamilton (23-6 at 220, did not compete in post-season traditionals; moved to Michigan).
* — not all girls’ results were reported to Matmen.
Matmen’s take: Bears took their lumps, to some degree, in the first year of 3A, and it showed in how the team as a whole finished the season. This year’s team brings back more experience, but the bigs need shoring up after McNames and Piersza.
CREEKSIDE (St Johns)
Coach: Richard Marabell, 13th year.
2019-20: 9-10 in duals. 4th at Bulldogs IBT, 16th at Flagler Rotary, 17th at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District 4th; Traditional: District 3rd, region 10th, 48th at states. 2019 — Duals: 2A-District 4 runnerup, 2A-Region 1 semifinalist; Traditional: 2A-District 4 runnerup, 2A-Region 1 5th, T-42nd at 2A states. 2018 — Duals: 2A-District 4 champ, 2A-Region 1 champ, 2A state semifinalist; Traditional: 2A-District 4 runnerup, 2A-Region 1 4th, 21st at 2A states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Andrew Feeks (junior, 17-16 at 106, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Cody Smith (junior, 8-12 at 113, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Hunter England (senior, 23-13 at 120, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Nolan Anderson (senior, 18-13 at 132, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Keanan Sexton (junior, 7-8 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season tradiitonals); Lee Leavell (junior, 14-17 at 138, 1 match from regions); Nathan Manning (junior, 15-13 at 145, 1 match from regions); Hunter Brown (senior, 29-14 at 160, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Bryan Fortay (senior, 6-7 at 195, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Robbie Balke (senior, 7-16 at 220, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Wyatt Galloway (junior, 9-8 at 220/285, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Vincent Approbato (junior, 13-14 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Key losses (graduation): Michael Galiani (19-15 at 126, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Zach Johnson (9-21 at 152, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Josh Benavides (17-11 at 170, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Jalen Hines (38-8 at 182, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states).
Matmen’s take: Knights were quietly consistent in 2019-20, and with a number of returning starters in hand, Creekside will be in the mix for the runnerup spot in February. Finding a few more upper weights will be key to take a step further in 2020-21.
FLEMING ISLAND (Orange Park)
Coach: PJ Cobbert, 7th year as HC, 14th year at school.
2019-20: 26-2 in duals. 11th at Knockout Christmas Classic, 1st at Keystone Memorial (IBT), 1st at Milton-Winter IBT, 2nd at Flagler Rotary, 1st at Clay Rotary.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District champ, region champ, state semifinalist; Traditional: District champ, region champ, state 3rd. 2019 — Duals: District champ, region champ, state runnerup; Traditional: District champ, region champ, state runnerup. 2018 — Duals: District champ, region champ, state runnerup; Traditional: District champ, region champ, state runnerup.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Hunter Herrington (senior, 38-8 at 113, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Riley Holton (senior, 44-15 at 126, district champ, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Liam McKenzie (sophomore, 9-10 at 126, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Dalton Baysinger (senior, 11-5 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Jhoel Robinson (sophomore, 22-8 at 160, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Gavin Smith (senior, 50-14 at 170, district champ, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Hunter Williams (junior, 16-6 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Josh Sandoval (junior, 17-2 at 182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Raul Gonzalez (senior, 47-16 at 285, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Key addition: Xavier Logan (junior, 11-9 at 145, 2A-District 4 4th, 0-2 at 2A-Region 1; transferred from Mainland); David Parkes (senior, 40-12 at 152, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states; transferred from Oakleaf).
Key losses (graduation): Ryan Hobson (42-25 at 120, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Isaac Padgett (39-21 at 132, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states; moved to Colorado); Dalton Williams (41-5 at 138, district champ, region champ, state 4th); Gannon Janssen (62-8 at 145, district champ, region champ, state 6th); Tanner Hill (54-12 at 152, district champ, region runnerup, state 5th); Luke Chop (61-9 at 160, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Nick Janssen (30-13 at 182, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Jeffrey Lascano (54-10 at 195, district champ, region champ, state 6th); Chad Nix (63-1 at 220, district champ, region champ, state CHAMPION).
Matmen’s take: Big 2020 senior class made up a huge part of Fleming success the past three or four seasons, but that class often found its toughest local competition within its own room. That room will now take the reins, and it’ll be ready.
MANDARIN (Jacksonville)
Coach: Lance Day, 2nd year at school.
2019-20: 21-21 in duals. 3rd at Arlington Optimist, 8th at Gateway Conference.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 7th, 28th at region. 2019 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 7th, T-19th at region. 2018 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District  7th, 30th at region.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Devin Foster (sophomore, 29-16 at 113, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Ethan Harvey (senior, 21-23 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Tristan Garcia (junior, 27-23 at 126, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Frank Kershaw (junior, 15-13 at 138, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Xaine Evans (senior, 25-17 at 145, 1 match from regions); John Willis (senior, 11-7 at 160, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Tony Carter (junior, 46-7 at 182, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Royal Felton-Norman (senior, 14-14 at 195, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jaelen Simmons (sophomore, 17-9 at 195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); De’Shawn Wise-Minor (sophomore, 20-19 at 220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Nick Wilbur (senior, 33-7 at 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Key losses (graduation): None.
Matmen’s take: Mustangs could be a flyer pick for the top half of the district come February; if the full Mandarin lineup competes in the post-season, it’s possible. Either way, more returning experience this coming year will help the Mustangs.
NEASE (Ponte Vedra Beach)
Coach: Bradley Lucas, 2nd year at school.
2019-20: 19-17 in duals. T-26th at Lady Panther, T-25th at Lady Bear Classic, T-45th at Girls’ State.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District T-5th; Traditional: District 5th, 21st at region. 2019 — Duals: 2A-District 4 4th; Traditional: 2A-District 4 6th, 16th at 2A-Region 1, T-50th at 2A states. 2018 — Duals: 2A-District 4 4th; Traditional: 2A-District 4 3rd, 12th at 2A-Region 1, T-69th at 2A states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Brielle Bibla (sophomore, 44-18 at 106, girls’ state 5th; district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Parker Stamschror (sophomore, 17-13 at 120, 1 match from regions); Jhon Olivar (sophomore, 11-13 at 120, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Olivia Drayton (sophomore, 5-17 at 122/126, 0-2 at girls’ state); Wilson Whitehead (junior, 4-16 at 132, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Andrew Ryan (junior, 11-3 at 145, district 3rd, did not compete at regions); Chad Severt (junior, 22-14 at 152, 1 match from regions); Kobe Ross (senior, 24-6 at 195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Donald Haraway (sophomore, 15-15 at 220, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Brandon Almaria (sophomore, 9-14 at 285, 1 match from regions); Hunter Moser (senior, 5-11 at 285, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Key losses (graduation): Trevion Demus (41-3 at 113, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Jalon Lumar (36-6 at 138, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Colin White (18-17 at 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Mario Powers (18-9 at 182, district 4th, 2-2 at regions).
Matmen’s take: St Johns Panthers will lose four region qualifiers from this year’s team, but young group should be better across the board this coming year. Team will need to augment its uppers, though, to make a real run for the top half of the district.
OAKLEAF (Orange Park)
Coach: Marcus Miller, 2nd year at school.
2019-20: 38-14 in duals. 6th at Keystone Memorial, T-7th at Flagler Rotary.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District runnerup, region quarterfinalist; Traditional: District runnerup, region 9th, T-41st at states. 2019 — Duals: District T-5th; Traditional: District 5th, 24th at region. 2018 — Duals: District 4th; Traditional: District 4th, 12th at region, T-34th at states.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Denzell Keeton (sophomore, 17-27 at 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Andrew Brandt (sophomore, 19-30 at 113, 1 match from regions); Marcus McGee (junior, 60-14 at 120, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Kevin Gilley (senior, 15-11 at 126, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jason Stewart (senior, 25-22 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Trevor Owens (senior, 44-21 at 132, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Gavin Bamber (junior, 13-13 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Logan Gilbert (senior, 22-8 at 138, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Roman Polinsky (sophomore, 19-13 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Dean Dahlem (senior, 16-25 at 145, 0-2 at districts); James McClintic (senior, 36-20 at 160, 1 match from regions); Onjel Caraballo (junior, 28-23 at 170, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Mason Ganion (junior, 13-8 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Isiah Schevchook (sophomore, 42-18 at 195, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Benjamin Gaddis (sophomore, 9-7 at 285, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Key losses (graduation except as noted): David Parkes (40-12 at 152, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states; transferred to Fleming Island); Jason Mitchell (46-14 at 220, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Josh Murrell (43-9 at 285, district champ, 1 match from states).
Matmen’s take: Oakleaf made a solid contender’s push within the district last year, but Clay County Knights again lost one of its top returners to transfer. If this group can replace graduated bigs, Oakleaf should be reasonably solid again this year.
SANDALWOOD (Jacksonville)
Coach: John Eldeb, 3rd year as HC.
2019-20: 8-15 in duals. 4th at Arlington Optimist, T-27th at Tournament of Champions, 10th at Ships N Duels, 7th at Westside Roundrobin, 11th at DeLand Bulldog IBT, 7th at Gateway Conference.
Post-season stats (last 3 years): 2020 — Duals: District T-5th; Traditional: District 6th, 17th at region, T-41st at states. 2019 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 6th, 31st at region. 2018 — Duals: Did not compete; Traditional: District 8th, 34th at region.
Projected key returners (15+ matches or post-season experience last year, with 2019-20 weights): Hunter Milner (junior, 5-4 at 120, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Juvens Augustin (senior, 18-14 at 126, 1 match from regions); Ben Peterson (junior, 10-10 at 132, 1 match from regions); Jermell McCall (junior, 15-15 at 145, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Jacob Kirkpatrick (sophomore, 7-19 at 145/152, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Michael Torres (senior, 19-22 at 152, 1 match from regions); Joshua Brown (senior, 29-13 at 160, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Khyle Ponds (junior, 7-8 at 182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); William Rosenberger (senior, 12-17 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Key losses (graduation): Lavaughn Brown (37-7 at 138, district runnerup, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Dennis Parrish (12-10 at 182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Gustavo Martinez (15-3 at 285, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Matmen’s take: The last ties to the Saints’ run of Gateway titles graduated in June, and if Sandalwood is going to re-forge a conference run, it’s going to need to get some new blood in at the bookends of the lineup and continue to charge up its schedule.

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