MELBOURNE — A year ago, Palatka had just one wrestler qualify out for states.
In November, the Panthers will be able to boast two returning state qualifiers.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s 1A-Region 2 IBT at Palm Bay, Palatka will represent District 5 at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, with two qualifiers after an eighth-place team finish and 70 team points, up a third from last year’s 46.
However, for the rest of the district, the weekend represented the end of a tumultuous 2020-21 season that saw two programs drop even before the year began.
Atlantic and Pedro Menendez finished tied for 19th in the 29-team field, with 28 points, while Keystone Heights and Lake Weir both were T-27th, with eight.
As expected, the host Pirates dominated the region field, with 300.5 points, 109 ahead of runnerup Hernando. Merritt Island and The Master’s Academy tied for third, with 93 points each, and Citrus rounded out the top five with 82.
Brackets from the weekend can be found HERE. A summary of Saturday’s wrestling follows:
Championship: Palatka got off on the right foot with sophomore Mikade Harvey (24-5, 7th statewide), the District 5 champ, adding a Region 2 title to his repertoire. On Saturday, Harvey began with an 11-4 decision over ninth-ranked Space Coast junior Raider Morelli in the semis. In the final, against Palm Bay’s eighth-ranked sophomore Logan DeLos Santos, the District 8 champ, Harvey posted an identical 11-4 win for the championship. DeLos Santos (24-8) advanced to final with a 4-1 win over Master’s Academy seventh-grader Dustin Kohn, the District 7 champ, in the semis.
Third place: Morelli (25-4) bounced back from the loss to Harvey with two wins at the back, falling Cypress Creek (Wesley Chapel)’s Jaden DeSantis in 1:11 in the blood round, then shut out Kohn, 6-0, for third. Kohn (36-12) had punched his ticket for states with a 5-4 win over Crystal River’s Blaine Reed in the consi semis. DeSantis reached the blood round by pinning Bishop Moore’s Andrew Voltolina (2:20), while Reed majored Central (Brooksville)’s Eric Hurley, the District 6 champ, by a 12-3 count.
Championship: District 8 champ and top-ranked Palm Bay senior Tyler Perrow remained unbeaten (32-0) with four bonus-point wins through the weekend. After two pins in 2:01 of mat time on Friday, Perrow shut out district rival and Merritt Island senior Zane Hudson, 9-0, in the semis, then polished off another district rival, Satellite sophomore Alex McMiller (full record not reported), in 26 seconds for the title. McMiller (8th) got to the final behind a bye and decision win on Friday, plus a fall (3:28) over district rival Anthony Edwards of Space Coast in the semi.
Third place: After falling in the quarters to Hudson on Friday, Zephyrhills Christian eighth-grader Talon Maple (42-5) would get revenge on Saturday, with four pins on the back side of the bracket. Maple had three of those Saturday, falling Bishop Moore’s Anthony Meyer (2:53) and Edwards (4:50) to qualify out, and then pinning Hudson in 1:45 for third. Hudson (28-10) punched his ticket for Kissimmee in a blood-round 6-3 win over District 6 champ Keith Germain of Weeki Wachee, who reached that round with a five-point move in sudden victory for a 7-2 win over District 7 champ Gage Persons of Citrus in the consi quarters.
Championship: District 8 champ and top-ranked Merritt Island senior Elijah Lusk (33-2) also bonus-pointed through the bracket, with two pins Friday. On Saturday, Lusk teched Hernando sophomore TJ Rodier, the District 6 champ, in the third period (24-7 in 5:31), and then majored district rival and Palm Bay junior Shaver Jackson, 14-2, to win the title. Jackson (17-6) had two max-point wins on Friday, adding a second pin (1:17) Saturday in the semis over District 7 champ Elijah Dy of Bishop Moore.
Third place: Rodier (9th, 34-6) secured his Kissimmee space with a 3-0 win in the blood round over Astronaut’s Presten Pineiro, then falled Citrus’ Charles Smith (full record not reported) in 56 seconds for third. Smith had punched his state ticket with three consi-side wins, including two on Saturday over Crystal River’s Angel Merchant (fall in 3:00) and a 5-4 win over Dy in the consi semis. Pineiro got to the final six with a fall (1:42) over Central (Brooksville)’s Colson Mackay-Johnson.
Championship: District 8 champ and top-ranked Palm Bay senior Rocco Senia (29-2) had three pins to get to the final. The third of those pushed him into the second period against Hernando junior Diego Mojica, with Senia finishing the fall in 2:45. In the final, against district rival and Merritt Island sophomore Lucien Comelchook, Senia shut down the attack for a 5-0 decision and title. Comelchook (12-4) had gotten to the final behind two wins Friday, surviving a wild semifinal against District 6 champ and Zephyrhills Christian seventh-grader Landen Holley, finding a takedown in sudden victory for a 14-12 win.
Third place: Mojica (13-7) bounced back from the loss to Senia with a fall in the blood round over Citrus’ Jacob Reynolds (1:24), then added a second pin (third of the weekend) by falling Holley (full record not reported) in 1:50. Holley secured his Kissimmee space with a fall (4:10) over district rival Addison Breeding in the consi semis. Reynolds had reached that round by pinning Bishop Moore’s Mason Medina, avenging his District 7 finals loss, in 3:45, while Breeding had teched district rival Jason Salatino of Wesley Chapel (19-3 in 3:36).
Championship: District 8 champ and fourth-ranked Palm Bay sophomore Ronald Theilacker (29-1) advanced to the title behind a pair of pins on Friday, followed by a semifinal tech fall over District 6 champ and Zephyrhills junior Jaiden Martinez (15-0 in 5:44) on Saturday. In the championship, Theilacker pushed past District 7 and Master’s Academy freshman Brandon Cody (5th) for an 8-3 win and the title. Cody (41-5) reached the final behind a 7-4 win in the semis over Palatka junior and District 5 champ Brandon Lewis.
Third place: After two prior Saturday exits at regions, Lewis (34-5, 7th) pushed through the blood round Saturday, falling Merritt Island’s Eddie Sears in 2:17 to secure his first state ticket. Lewis then went on for more, securing third with a 3-1 win over Martinez in the bronze-medal match. Martinez (40-8) secured his Kissimmee space with a 14-2 major in the consis semis over Hernando’s James Gadson. Sears reached the blood round with a 6-1 win over Citrus’ Maxal Simpson, while Gadson falled Wesley Chapel’s Aydan Millan (2:49).
Championship: District 8 champ and second-ranked Cocoa Beach senior Michael Watson (30-5) pinned his way into the final, with two on Friday and a third fall (2:35) in the semis on Saturday over District 7 champ Cade Eisenhut of Bishop Moore. Watson then had a rematch of the District 8 final, a match that went double overtime last week, with Palm Bay senior Braden Baxter (5th); this time, Watson was able to finish it in six, taking a 5-2 decision. Baxter (29-5) had a pair of Friday majors, reaching the final with a 2-0 win over Satellite freshman Ryan Beirne (unreported full record) in the semis.
Third place: Beirne bounced back with a pair of decisions in the consis, taking an 8-2 win over Nature Coast’s Forest Tilson in the blood round to qualify out, then shutting out District 6 champ and Zephyrhills Christian eighth-grader Javier Lopez, 3-0, for third. Lopez (41-7) had to win three times on the back to push his way into The Show, with Saturday pins over Pedro Menendez’s Logan Meehan (:49), the District 5 champ, in the consi quarters and over Eisenhut (1:17) in the consi semis. Tilson had advanced to the blood round with a 5-3 win over district rival Jackson Hudson of Cypress Creek (Wesley Chapel).
Championship: District 8 champ and second-ranked Palm Bay sophomore Nathan Furman (30-3) made a seamless transition from Georgia to Florida wrestling, pinning his way into the final, with a third pin in Saturday’s semifinal round over Wesley Chapel’s Nick Iserino (:54). Furman then rode out District 6 champ and Hernando senior Billy Gould, and was able to escape out and take a 1-0 decision in the championship match. Gould (30-6, 5th) had two wins Friday, adding a third with a 13-7 decision over Palatka’s Delton Nealy, the District 5 champ, in the semi.
Third place: Cocoa Beach senior James Clark-Herndon (27-6, 6th) won four matches on the back after a 12-5 quarterfinal loss to Gould, with two decisions Saturday over Citrus’ Jesse Pounders (7-3) and Iserino (11-7) to punch his Kissimmee ticket. Clark-Herndon then falled District 7 champ and Villages senior Cameron Rima in 4:08 to take third. Rima (41-11) also had three consi-side wins after losing to Iserino in the quarters on Friday, with Saturday wins over Merritt Island’s Noah Dovin (3:16) and Nealy (14-7) in a battle of seniors in the blood round.
Championship: District 8 champ and second-ranked Palm Bay senior Jack Dinberg (30-1), who wrestled for Nease in his freshman year, dominated his way into the final with pins or techs. That included a semifinal pin (2:33) over District 6 champion and Hernando senior Jason Perez. In the final, against District 7 champ and Citrus junior Logan Simpson, Dinberg pushed through for a 3-1 decision and the title. Simpson (10th, 21-3) had two bonus-point wins on Friday and shut out Zephyrhills junior Idael Reyes, 2-0, in the semis.
Third place: Perez (25-8) came back from the loss to Dinberg with a pair of bonus-point wins over district rivals, majoring Cypress Creek (Wesley Chapel)’s Jonathan Cardona, 18-4, in the blood round, and then falling Reyes (4:43) for third. Reyes (40-11) also had a major in the consi semis, taking an 11-1 win over Leesburg’s Dominic Delgado. Both Cardona and Delgado had pins to get to that round, with Cardona falling another District 6 opponent, Central (Brooksville)’s Peyton Chancey, in 3:58, while Delgado pinned Pedro Menendez’s Justin Whitty in 2:08.
Championship: District 8 champ and third-ranked Palm Bay senior Cameron Komat (29-2) bonus-pointed his way into the final, with a shutout 12-0 major in the semis over Hudson’s Cole Kanehl, following that up with a tight 9-6 win in the championship match over Hernando senior and District 6 champ Billy Fetzner. Fetzner (28-6, 8th) had two pins on Friday, and then turned back 10th-ranked Bishop Moore senior Gavin Wheeler, the District 7 champ, by a 7-4 count in the semis.
Third place: Wheeler (38-7) came back with two wins on the back side for third, starting with a tighter-than-district-final rematch and 4-2 win over distrist rival Kevin Coon of Villages in the blood round, followed by a 37-second pin over Nature Coast junior Caleb Murray for third. Murray (23-9) had lost to Coon by fall in the opening round, coming back for four wins on the back, including Saturday wins over Satellite’s Caleb Griffith (12-10) and Kanehl (4-2) in the consi semis. Coon reached the consi semis with an injury-default in the second period over Palatka’s Gaitlin Carreras, the District 5 champ.
Championship: District 7 champ and top-ranked Master’s Academy senior Dylan Kohn (43-1) bonus-pointed through the tournament, without giving up a point on Saturday. In the semis, Kohn shut out fourth-ranked Meritt Island senior Khalil Mitchell, the District 8 champ, by a 9-0 count, then came back in the finals with a tech fall (15-0 in 3:40) over Satellite sophomore Michael McCarthy (full record not reported). McCarthy also had three bonus-point wins in reaching the final, with a Saturday fall over district rival and Palm Bay senior Anthony Holden (2:19).
Third place: Mitchell (27-4) bounced back in the consis with a pair of bonus-point wins, falling District 6 champ Nate Greene of Hernando (2:38) in the blood round, and then shutting out Holden, 10-0, for third. Holden punched his ticket for Kissimmee with a 10-8 consi-semi win over Hudson’s Matthew Tanner. Greene and Tanner reached that level with pins, as Greene falled District 5 champ Noah Anderson of Atlantic (2:40) and Tanner pinned district rival Samuel Daniels of Central (Brooksville) in 4:21, both in the consi quarters.
Championship: District 8 champ and second-ranked Palm Bay senior Zander Owens (22-3) bonus-pointed his way through the weekend, with Saturday pins in the semis over District 7 champ and 2020 state runnerup Blake Coleman, a Citrus senior (6th), in 3:14. Owens then went on to pin Bishop Moore senior Jacob Suggs in 4:09 for the title. Suggs (25-16) had a pair of Friday pins, followed by an 8-4 semifinal win over District 6 champ Aidan Mayberry of Weeki Wachee.
Third place: Coleman (24-1) bounced back from his only loss thus far this year with two dominant wins, shutting out District 5 champ David Arcieri of Atlantic, 11-0, in the consi semis, then going on to pin Cocoa senior Troy Sawyer in 3:35 for third. Sawyer (25-8) won four matches on the back after an opening-round 9-7 loss to an eventual non-qualifier, including two Saturday wins over Hernando’s Maddox Romain (5-4) and Mayberry (4-0) in the blood round. Arcieri had gotten to that round with an 8-7 win in the consi quarters over Villages’ Izaiah Jauma.
Championship: District 7 champ and second-ranked Master’s Academy senior Ryan Cody (39-2) pinned his way into the semis. There, he had his toughest match of the tournament, taking a 12-7 decision over District 6 champ and Weeki Wachee senior Matthew Kovalskiy (5th). In the final, Cody had an easier time against Hernando senior Johnathan Ahne, with a second-period tech fall (15-0 in 2:34). Ahne (27-10) had a pin and tech on Friday, coming back Saturday with a 9-2 over district rival Joey Dobbs of Zephyrhills Christian in the semis.
Third place: Kovalskiy (30-1) also had to bounce back for third after his first loss of the season, with two max-point wins. He started with a fall in the blood round over District 8 champ Octavion Osby (1:45), then won by forfeit over Villages junior Jaden Markus in the third-place match. Markus punched his Kissimmee ticket with four consi-side wins after an 8-6 loss (which he would avenge) in the opening round, including Saturday wins over Astronaut’s Caleo Carrera (4-1) and Dobbs (fall in 3:11, avenging the rd 1 loss). Osby reached the consi semis with a fall over Hudson’s Kaylum Uribes (1:43).
Championship: District 6 runnerup and eighth-ranked Hernando senior Chris Spellman (24-3) bounced back from a district-finals loss in overtime by pinning his way through the tournament, with two pins and two more Saturday (4 falls in 5:34). In the semis, Spellman pinned District 8 champ and Palm Bay senior Ozkan Aydin (10th) in 1:28, then came back to fall District 6 champ and Zephyrhills senior Theotis Smith (who’d beaten Spellman, 7-5, in sudden victory at districts) in 41 seconds for the championship. Smith (22-7) reached the final behind two pins, the second of those in 5:34 in the semis over District 7 champ and Villages senior Nicholas Heise.
Third place: Aydin (30-2) came back to place third, with an 8-2 blood-round win over Zephyrhills Christian’s Elijah Austin to secure his Kissimmee space, then taking a fall in the bronze-medal match over Heise for third. Heise (37-6) punched his ticket for states with a consi-semi pin of his own over District 5 champ Jack Tilton of Palatka (2:30). Austin and Tilton both won decisions in the consi quarters, with Austin taking down Rockledge’s Howard Craft, 8-3, and Tilton decisioning Crystal River’s Tim Gray, 6-2.
Championship: District 8 champ and top-ranked Jordan Love (34-0) had two Friday pins, with two decisions on Saturday. In the semis, Love pushed past District 6 champ and Hernando senior Sam Fleming (8th), 5-2, to get to the title match, where he found a takedown in sudden victory in a reprise of the District 8 final against Palm Bay junior Carlos Gerardino, taking a 6-4 win. Gerardino (29-5, 6th) reached the final behind two Friday wins and a semifinal pin over Zephyrhills senior Dajuan McCullough in 2:28.
Third place: Fleming (30-5) bounced back from the loss to Love with two pins on the back, first pinning District 5 champion Jared Jackson of Atlantic (4:13) in the blood round, then falling McCullough in 2:37 in the third-place match. McCullough (36-7) advanced to states with an 8-4 win over district rival Briac Riles of Wesley Chapel in the consi semis. Riles and Jackson both advanced to that round with pins, as Riles needed 16 seconds to fall District 7 champ Mark Ward of Villages, while Jackson pinned Satellite’s Damarion Howard in 3:43.