New coach. Most likely, same result.
In 2A-District 3, ever since coming into the district in fall 2020, Fletcher has dominated the scene, with double titles each of the past two years.
Expect that to occur once again in 2022, even after losing a quartet of May graduates that were iconic as a group, all state qualifiers and district champions in 2021, and including medalists Ana Bradshaw (5th at 106 at girls’ state), Ethan Hollenbach (5th at 220 in March) and Joel Rodriguez (6th at 152).
The Senators still return the most-experienced boys’ group from last year, with 11 projected key returners, nine of them post-season starters (and all nine of those 2A-Region 1 qualifiers). Leading that group is the district’s only returning boys’ state qualifier in junior Ryan Klein (182 last year).
Taking into account the entire group, Ponte Vedra has by far the largest group of returners in the district, with 23 key returners back.
On the boys’ side, 12 strong potentially could come back, with nine that were post-season starters and six reaching the region round. The Sharks lost four May graduates (all on the boys’ side), with all four reaching regions and one qualifying to state. However, none got past the first day.
As for the Lady Sharks, they lost no one to graduation from last year’s team, which finished sixth at girls’ state, and should be in line for at least that level of finish again this year. Ponte Vedra could have as many as 11 back, all of whom competed at girls’ state, with junior podium finishers Olivia Richie (runnerup at 128) and Josie Sagasser (3rd at 134) leading the charge.
We have Westside in the top three, and it seems that we rank the Wolverines higher than they finish, but it seems to feel right to put them third this year. Westside lost just one May graduate from last year’s group, but it was a big loss in Ray Bolden, the Wolverines’ only district champ, only region champ, and a third at states in March.
The Wolverines could have as many as nine wrestlers back from last year, all but one (and that one due to early injury) wrestling in the post-season. Five of those nine did get to the region round.
Terry Parker is a team that could be building toward a top-half move after years of struggle. The Braves lost just two May graduates, one of them a region qualifier but didn’t compete.
Coming back is a group of as many as eight returners for the Braves. Keeping them through the post-season will be key, as only six made it a year ago, and just three of those six to regions, with one returner getting to day 2.
Englewood is an open question, with a staff being hired just a few days before practice was set to begin. Englewood lost one of its two district champs and two Saturday region qualifiers to graduation. The Rams have a possibility for eight returners from a year ago, but only five were post-season starters and four competed in the region round. They’ve got a decent middle part of the lineup sorted; if they can find consistent performance in the lower portion, they could be a top-half threat.
While Riverside is operating under a new name, the Generals usually haven’t had trouble finding talent since the site began. That will be put to the test this year after the Generals sustained the biggest graduation loss in the district, with six May graduates (five with region experience in February), led by 2x 2A state medalist Ahmahd Denmark (2nd in 2020, 3rd last year at 160). This year’s Riverside group could have as many as four returners, but only one competed at regions.
There’s always a chance that both Stanton or Ed White could, with an injection of new blood into the lineup, make a run for a district mid-pack finish, but numbers just might make that too difficult. The Blue Devils could have as many four returners from last year’s team, after losing two May graduates, but had just one wrestler with two wins at districts and none at the region level. The Commanders lost two and could return two from a year ago, with one wrestler getting to Saturday at regions, but the numbers needs both teams face are critical.
Projected finish: 1. Fletcher. 2. Ponte Vedra. 3. Westside. 4. Terry Parker. 5. Englewood. 6. Riverside. 7. Stanton. 8. Ed White.
CAPSULES HERE: 2A-DISTRICT 3 CAPSULES