Who’s the best?
We can know who the best is in wrestling. But what parts of the country, or state, are better than another, that’s a little harder to pin down.
Sure, it’s possible to have a gut reaction to the question.
I like the data myself.
So, while we’re in summer mode and posting camp flyers on Facebook pages and (hopefully) getting schedules for the coming year, and all of our records updates are done for 2020-21, and we’re in between big events like Disney and Fargo, we’ve got the time to crunch the numbers to answer the big questions.
We’ve looked at the state tournaments; now, the focus switches to the region events, to ask which district won each region. The order’s going to be pretty random.
One unique wrinkle to these posts. I’ve covered high school wrestling in (cranks up the Wayback machine in the head)… SIX states now. I’ve seen a lot. I have to say, I like Iowa’s version of the region round the best, where that state wrestles a true second-place match in determining who goes on to state.
I’m kind of a tinkerer at heart — one of the ideas I’ve championed was adopted by FHSAA this past year, with districts going out to six places and using those from time to time to help fill region brackets.
So in addition to the three measuring sticks of data, I’m offering a What If section of these posts. What if there was a true second? What if there was a true fourth? We’re going to show you who’d be involved, and then you in the various local areas can speculate how those matches would go (when we do my coverage-area regions, I’ll add some regular-season color on how they might have gone).
We said we’d be pretty random, and the next region up (we’ll do all 12) is Region 1 in 1A. While one district, District 2, as the leader of the region — which we would have guessed — what was SOMETHING of a surprise was how close the races were. We’ll outline that as we go.
We’ll start with a count of the most points scored by district.
District 2, with four teams in the top seven in the region tournament contested at Bolles, built a very big early lead, but Districts 3 and 4 chipped away, and chipped away, and chipped away at it. The gap between 2 and second-place 4 was right around one point per wrestler, or three points per weight class. And the gap between 4 and third-place 3 was less than one point per weight class! Virtually a dead heat.
- District 2: 495 points
- District 4: 441.5
- District 3: 432
- District 1: 233.5
How about state qualifiers?
This was probably District 2’s biggest gap between it and the rest of the region, and it was built not through champions, but by depth, as the 2s had 12 wrestlers finish second or third. District 4 was tops in champions (and had the only wrestlers to win state titles the following week, while District 3 racked up half the fourth-place finishes.
- District 2: 20 qualifiers (4 1st, 5 2nd, 7 3rd, 4 4th).
- District 3: 16 qualifiers (4 1st, 3 2nd, 2 3rd, 7 4th).
- District 4: 15 qualifiers (6 1st, 3 2nd, 4 3rd, 2 4th).
- District 1: 5 qualifiers (0 1st, 3 2nd, 1 3rd, 1 4th).
I also like to look at the depth each region has. One measuring indicator I use is to calculate the depth of each district by compiling the win-loss records of each district’s competitors. While District 3 had the most wins in the tournament (122), District 2 had a better win percentage, a lead it started holding from 132 onward.
- District 2: 110-86 (56.12% win percentage).
- District 3: 122-105 (53.74%)
- District 4: 94-87 (51.93%)
- District 1: 62-110
District 2 held the lead, and carried the day, but it had plenty of fights along the way; the gap between first and third was very small, which is unlike any of the regions I’ve done so far.
Now, for the What Ifs. In MOST cases, there will be a true 4th; there would not be a true 2nd if the runnerup and 3rd-place wrestler met in the semis or quarters, that match would be determinative.
106: True 4th — Matches Suwannee’s Topher Pearson (qualified 4th) against Wewahitchka’s Jay Brown. They did not meet this past season, the first varsity season for each of them.
113: True 4th — Matches Bishop Kenny’s Ryan Mayer (qualified 4th) against Bolles’ Jacob Witt. Mayer and Witt split a pair of matches this past year, with Witt taking a 2-0 decision at Panther Prowl, and Mayer winning by a 6-4 count in the Clay Rotary semis. The pair met once in 2019-20 (Mayer won that by decision), twice in 2018-19 (Witt won both by fall) and twice in 2017-18 (Witt by tech fall & pin).
120: No true 2nd or 4th, as both matches were wrestled earlier in the tournament.
126: True 2nd — Runnerup Timothy Jolicoeur (Suwannee) would face 3rd-place Jeremy Mahoney (Fernandina Beach). The pair of wrestlers, both graduates this spring, did not face each other this past season. Jolicoeur had four decisions over Mahoney in 2019-20, however; that was the only year they’d faced each other. No true 4th.
132: True 2nd — Runnerup Joe Jackson (Episcopal) would face 3rd-place Jackson Merrick (Wakulla). The 2021 graduates never met in high school. True 4th — Matches Clay’s Chandler Thomas (qualified 4th) against Suwannee’s Brody Boehm. They also didn’t meet this past season.
138: True 2nd — Runnerup Tyson Musgrove (Suwannee) would face 3rd-place Emil Ganim (Florida High). The pair met twice during the season, with Musgrove taking a 6-2 win for 3rd place at Keystone and a 7-4 decision in the District 2 final; at states, in the blood round, Ganim won by a 5-4 count. True 4th — Matches Yulee’s Dylan Johns (qualified 4th) against Episcopal’s Noah Meyer. Johns had two prior wins over Meyer this past year, with an 11-6 decision at district duals and a win by fall in the District 3 final.
145: True 4th — Matches Clay’s Josh Kumpf (qualified 4th) against Bay’s Corban Cherry. The pair of rising seniors have never met in high school competition.
152: True 4th — Matches Bishop Kenny’s Collin Hearn (qualified 4th) against Rocky Bayou Christian’s Calvin Wells. The wrestlers never met in high school competition.
160: True 4th — Matches Florida High’s Xander Hawkes (qualified 4th) against Bishop Kenny’s Paul Barakat. The pair did meet during the 2020-21 regular season, with Barakat taking a 9-4 win at Yulee Duals.
170: True 2nd — Runnerup Chase Maddox (South Walton) would face 3rd-place Ethan Larsen (Clay). The duo never met in high school competition. True 4th — Matches Yulee’s Collin Sewell (qualified 4th) against Baker County’s Clayton Dennison, assuming Sewell could compete (he’d been injured). The wrestlers never met in high school competition.
182: True 2nd — Runnerup Jackson Osteen (Wakulla) would face 3rd-place Conner South (Baker County). Osteen scored a takedown in sudden victory for an 8-6 win in the District 2 final. True 4th — Matches Yulee’s Kaleb Reddish (qualified 4th) against Rutherford’s Chad Allgood. At MyHOUSE duals at Wakulla in January, Allgood won by fall in that lone matchup between the two.
195: True 2nd — Runnerup David Mercado (North Bay Haven) would face 3rd-place Jamari Watson (Raines). They hadn’t met prior to the region tournament, but would face off in the blood round at states, where Watson won by fall en route to taking 3rd. True 4th — Matches Yulee’s Braylen Ricks (qualified 4th) against Suwannee’s Blaine Howard. The pair never met in high school.
220: No true 2nd or 4th.
285: True 4th — Matches Wakulla’s Jayven Hearns (qualified 4th) against Bishop Snyder’s Angel Lecointe. The wrestlers did not meet in high school competition.
Tomorrow, time permitting (we’ve got several things going on, new/returning coaches to whom we need to reach out, similar projects going on in Georgia, plus there’s this little tournament going on in North Dakota), we’re staying in north Florida with a review of 3A-Region 1.