Girls’ state preview
When & where: Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee. Wrestling begins Thursday at 1:30 p.m. with one round of championship-side and one consi-side round following. On Friday, two rounds of championship-side and two rounds of consi-side will be contested, with the quarters starting at 9:15 a.m. and the semis going at 1:30 p.m. (times approximate). Saturday wrestling begins at 9:30 a.m. with consi semis and finals (3rd/5th/7th place matches). After a break, the finals are scheduled to go with a 4:15 p.m. start.
Team favorite: I’m looking at Orlando (Freedom) to take the team title. The Lady Patriots have been the top team all year. Dr Phillips, Matanzas, and Ponte Vedra are all solid threats for top-5 team positions, and a couple of other teams — Clay & Mosley — should figure into the top-10 chase.
Thoughts at each weight class, sure to be proven wrong —
Projected final: Valarie Solorio (Mosley, 1st) v Hope Eastes (North Port, 3rd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Kohana Martinez (Zephyrhills, 4th); Gabriele Tedesco (Lake Gibson, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Solorio: Should make podium without any debate and might not even get a serious test until Friday afternoon’s semi, most like against Martinez, if even then. Against either Eastes or Tedesco, Solorio will get her strongest challenge, but she’s competed at the elitest of elite levels already.
Alexis Brown, Crestview (6th): Could provide a challenge to Tedesco in the quarters, but consis are her likeliest path to a medal, which should happen, but even there in round 2 she may have to beat a ranked wrestler to make the podium.
Abby Couillard, Mainland (7th): Has a solid chance to make the quarters, but Eastes looms there. Good chance to get to the medal portion of the bracket, but will have to overcome #8 Emma Bauknight of Springstead or #5 Maite Coutinho of Freedom in consi round 2.
Victoria Ceballos, Dr Phillips (10th): Not a great draw with Eastes in round 1, but should be contending to make podium against either Coutinho or Bauknight in the new blood round, which is consi round 2.
Kameron Easter, Wewahitchka: A six-year career at states starts here; she faces a fellow unranked wrestler in South Dade in round 1, and has already defied expectations in getting out; a win Thursday would be huge.
Projected final: Sigrun Metzger (Crestview, 3rd) v Clare Booe (Palm Harbor University, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Reagan Thomas (Naples, 5th); Iliana Gracey (Western, 9th).
Local analysis —
Metzger: Bottom half of bracket is a monster and that works in Metzger’s favor. We don’t know much about her, still, but she beat kids we did know about to win Region 1 and that matters. She will see a ranked opponent in the semi, and don’t discount unranked Hailee Moder in the quarters.
Aliyah Gonzalez, Winter Park (2nd): Each round in the bottom half is a fight for the favorites, Gonzalez included. It would be an upset to knock off Booe in the semis, but she’s got chops. Podium should certainly happen.
Dianna Pineda, Deltona (4th): Wasn’t tested at Region 1 prior to the final; that won’t be the case this week, with medal round-level matches from the jump. Should be a very good Friday quarter with Gonzalez and a podium finish in sight.
Mariah Mills, Matanzas (6th): Not a great draw with Booe in the quarters, but outside of Metzger at regions, Mills was solid throughout, and will podium no matter how the quarterfinal goes.
Adrianna Barrientos, Oakleaf (8th): Is battle-tested by the region experience and could knock off a region champ in round 1. Best chance for podium is to move forward in the bracket, rather than fight through a Gonzalez or Pineda in the consis.
Projected final: Arden Swindle (Strawberry Crest, 5th) v Sofia Ferran (Mater Lakes, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Mayangeliw Colon (Mulberry, 6th); Aleksandra Vukajlovic (East River, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Tiana Fries (Matanzas, 3rd): Per the rankings is the top wrestler in the top half, and she may very well make the final and even win (I think this weight is open). But she has a gauntlet and that can be a lot on a freshman. Will certainly place by Saturday.
Cynthia Kowitski (Ponte Vedra, 4th): We find out how good Ferran is in the quarters, because Kowitski has won lots of key matches over the last four seasons. A win there could put her into finals territory, perhaps. Will certainly place this weekend.
Shelby Sherman (Apopka, 8th): Could be Fries’ first key roadblock in the quarters, or could be in the consis after round 1, with #7 Rachel Silva (Somerset) her rd-of-16 opponent. Winning that first round is key to a medal chances, which are solid enough.
Gracie Bradshaw (Middleburg, 10th): Has a winnable first-rounder, and either way the quarter with Vukajlovic goes, her medal chances are at least pretty solid, if not locked in with a quarterfinal win.
Lily Powell (Gulf Breeze): Drew Swindle in the first round, which is a tough draw. Powell could have a winnable consi rd 1, but will get a strong competitor in rd 2. Could be a rematch of the region 3rd place match with Bradshaw, with medal on the line.
Projected final: Erin Rizzuto (Ponte Vedra, 5th) v Cameron Galvin (Freedom, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Javanica Mickens (Jones, 4th); Brittany Vincens (Treasure Coast, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Rizzuto: Has jumped in and springboarded the Lady Sharks from start-to-finish this year. Rizzuto will have challenges in both the quarters and semis, no question about it, but she’s faced solid competition all season, and even before this season. Will definitely podium, should get to Saturday afternoon.
Lahela Grady (Tate, 8th): Has a winnable first-rounder, but will see Galvin in the quarters, and there are a few weights where Freedom is really elite, and this is one of them. Grady does not slot into an easy consi quarter of the bracket (the second one) and medaling will be a good tournament.
Katy Roche (University-OC, 9th): Initial draw with Vincens isn’t great. A round-1 win would make her medal chances much better, but she’ll have work to do at least in consi round 2, if not even as early as round 1, to medal in this weight class.
Jocelyn Higgins (Lake Mary, 10th): Gets #2 Lourdes Macias of Western, who’s a finalist contender. A round-1 win would be huge, but if it’s the consis, Higgins should get to wrestle for a medal in consi round 2.
Projected final: Brielle Bibla (Tocoi Creek, 2nd) v Juliana Diaz (Dr Phillips, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Analy Banuelos (Braddock, 6th); Christina Turner (Sarasota Military, 5th).
Local analysis —
Diaz: In a weight where the coverage area is ranked to go 1-2-3-4, Diaz is a step above everyone else in the field. The holder of a national ranking all season, Diaz will get tests, though, as her quarterfinal and semifinal opponents will be tough outs. But we should get the 1-2 final here.
Bibla: Don’t get it twisted, Bibla has to bring it each round, as she’ll see ranked opponents in every round to get to the final, or could see ranked opponents each round. Very few wrestlers are more ready for opponents, in the moments leading up to matches, though, than Bibla, who should get to Saturday afternoon.
Emma Smith (Westside, 3rd): Smith’s path to the semis is reasonable enough, load management-wise, but I think Diaz is going to be too formidable. The one question I would have is whether her post-season path gets her to a medal that matches the ranking. Possibly, possibly not, it’s up to her, but she will podium on Saturday.
Sophia Lahik (Windermere, 4th): Also has a pair of winnable matches and could be Bibla’s semifinal opponent. I would not be surprised with a third-place showing here, and she’s formidable enough to give Bibla real issues. Should definitely podium this weekend.
Taylor Thomas (Timber Creek, 9th): Should face Bibla in the quarters, but will have a solid round-1 opponent as well. Depending on frame of mind when coming into the consis, Thomas has a reasonable chance to medal, but could be facing a higher-ranked opponent to earn it.
Brianna Pena (Seminole): I think the rankings have undervalued Pena; a round-1 win over #7 Duleen Perez of Booker is quite possible, and while Diaz is too much in the quarters, Pena should catapult into the medals and perhaps even the top six.
Christina Borgmann (Matanzas): Borgmann should get to wrestle for a medal, even if her first-rounder against Turner goes awry, but she will be facing either a rematch of the Region 1 3rd-place match, or the wrestler that beat that wrestler, in consi round 2.
Projected final: Aubrianna Apple (Clay, 2nd) v Kailey Rees (Freedom, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Page Baker (North Port, 9th); Emma Gagnon (Riverview, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Apple: Wrestling a state-champion teammate every day in the room has made Apple one of if not the most improved female wrestlers in north Florida. She’ll get tests, though, in both quarters & semis against ranked competition, but should be able to survive through to take her shot against Rees, a solid favorite.
Natalia Choquegonza (Ponte Vedra, 5th): Gets a key test right away in round 1 from a team-points and standings standpoint with South Dade, and most likely Rees in the quarters. She also slots into a deep consi quarter, and will have to be at her best to medal.
Megan Kaplan (Hagerty, 7th): Took a hit in Region 1 semis, but has top-six chops. That doesn’t mean she can cruise to a medal, but a medal is very possible even with Gagnon looming in the quarterfinals. Kaplan’s consi path, if needed, is a bit more manageable.
Ana Vilar (Flagler Palm Coast): With three ranked girls (#4, #8 & #9) in her quarter, Vilar will need an inspired performance to get a chance to wrestle for a medal in consi round 2, but she has good coaching and three more chances.
Projected final: Rachel Ferreter (Freedom, 6th) v Madisyn Blackburn (Clay, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Arianna Ruiz (Mater Lakes, 9th); Callie Alfieri (Gulf, 8th).
Local analysis —
Blackburn: Even after forfeiting to a future college teammate in the Region 1 final, the weight class is Blackburn’s to lose. That gesture assures, however, that the #1 and #2 in the weight class will meet in the quarters rather than the final, but even had Blackburn forfeited out in the semis and wound up fourth, she’s still the favorite to get to Saturday afternoon.
Bailey Waltz (Timber Creek, 2nd): Will be Blackburn’s first finals-level opponent a day early, as they’d meet up in the quarters. Waltz is probably the one wrestler in the weight class that could give Blackburn some real issues, and we’ll see that on Friday. Waltz will podium either way; if she wins Friday, she’s odds-on for a title.
Kaylee Easter (Wewahitchka, 3rd): The Region 1 champ has the capability to beat Ferreter and go on to the final herself, but I’m not discounting the team factor that will be driving Ferreter in the quarters on Friday. I will say this much: whoever wins that quarter should make the final.
Bryanne Kaminsky (University-Orange City, 4th): Is the most likely bottom-half semifinal opponent for either Blackburn or Waltz. Alfieri in the quarters will be a tough out, but Kaminsky’s been in the best region for 130s in the state all year, and she’ll podium as a result.
Kendall Bibla (Tocoi Creek, 5th): Hung in with Kaminsky at regions, with a front-side pin only to wind up on the other end of it in the medal round. She’ll get tested in the quarters for sure, but Bibla will be on the podium this weekend if she wrestles to capability.
Julia Ferreira (Dr Phillips, 7th): Could be one of the more intriguing quarterfinals between her and Bibla, where they might be a little more evenly-matched than even the slight spread in rankings indicate. Either way, regardless of outcome, Ferreira should podium.
Projected final: Tydaisa Mack (North Miami, 2nd) v Gaby Perez (Treasure Coast, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Emma Jefferies (Largo, 5th); Keyla DeLeon (Freedom, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Madison Waltz (Timber Creek, 4th): Drew Mack, who went 7-5 in the Region 4 semis with Perez, in the first round. That’s…not great. But a win there would make her odds-on favorite to make the final and a loss doesn’t hurt her podium potential, which is virtually a lock from what I’m seeing out of the second consi.
Isabella Tietje (Matanzas, 6th): Has a decent chance to make top six by reaching the semis, although a quarter against either #10 Aurora Guadiana (Wellington) or #8 Angelyn Glazier (McKeel) won’t be an easy match to win. It’s not completely out of reach for Tietje, on her best game, to make the final.
Jaidyn Vinson (Clay, 7th): Has a winnable first-rounder, but Perez in the quarters is not ideal. Vinson’s podium chances are reasonably good, but she’d like to finish her career higher than just “reasonably good.” Going through either Mack or Waltz is not a great path for higher than 7th, though.
Jana El’harake (Oviedo, 9th): Has a good chance to win in round 1, but after that, things get more difficult, with most likely DeLeon in the quarters and then either Mack or Waltz with a medal on the line. That’s not an ideal space to be.
Projected final: Jada Llamido (Hagerty, 1st) v Karla Roman (East Lee County, 3rd).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Zoe Williamson (South Lake, 4th); Sofia Delgado (Miami Coral Park, 5th).
Local analysis —
Olivia Richie (Ponte Vedra, 2nd): Is the chalk pick to click and has the talent to make it to Saturday afternoon and make it be an all-area final and Region 1 finals rematch. But Roman being a senior, I feel, is also going to matter this weekend in this first sanctioned tournament, and she’s going to want to take a shot at a title.
Olivia Carr (Nease, 6th): Reached the Region 1 final with three bonus-point wins, Carr emerged for some, but she’s always been tough and well-disciplined in my book. Her bracketing isn’t the greatest, with Williamson looming in the quarters and possibly a ranked wrestler to contend with in the consis. Medaling is a very real possibility.
Nehemie Gregoire (Apopka, 8th): Opens with #9 Kristy More of Sunlake in round 1 and could face Delgado in the quarters with a first-round win. The first-round win need is huge, because even a loss in the quarters, with the way the third consi is shaping up, is a likely medal weekend. But Gregoire has to get the first one.
Salomy Cabrera (Matanzas): The Lady Pirate sophomore is the only unranked wrestler in the second quarter, but there are opportunities to make a surprise. A third match would be a good tournament, particularly if all three are against ranked opponents.
Projected final: Teigan Slauson (Palm Harbor University, 2nd) v Jennah Mustafa (Lake Wales, 1st).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Anisah Paz (South Dade, 3rd); Tasha Matkovich (Anclote, 6th).
Local analysis —
Katherine Stewart (Bartram Trail, 10th): One of the unknowns of the bracket became less unknown after pinning her way to the Region 1 title two weekends ago. I want to say I won’t be surprised by anything she does, up or down, but per the rankings medaling is going to be tricky, with ranked opponents in the quarters and in consi round 2.
Megan Dathe (Hagerty): Has three ranked opponents in the second quarter along with her, drawing Region 4 champ Paz first, then either #8 Jade Noble of Horizon or Slauson, win or lose. A win would be massive for her chances, but a third match would be a very solid tournament.
Degriece Coleman (Westside): Possibly could’ve warranted a ranking, but it wasn’t in the cards. Coleman must win in round 1 for best medal chances, as there is a solid opponent in consi round 1 to look at, plus one of the state’s best coming down for a possible round 2. Coleman wants to go up, where medal chances are better.
Savannah Pitts (Mosley): Like Dathe, Pitts will face three ranked opponents in the bottom quarter of the bracket (#4-#5-#6), so — like Dathe — a third match in this weekend’s event would be a very solid tournament.
Projected final: Mya Bethel (North Miami, 1st) v Chloe Shull (Timber Creek, 2nd).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Giordana Frascarelli (Cypress Creek, 7th); Gabby Tutera (Palmetto, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Shull: Even with tough opponents along the way, Shull’s seen tough competition in central Florida all season, as midweek rumbles at home, in which she has participated, have attested. A winnable round-1 could result in an all-local quarter against ranked competition, and she’ll most likely see a ranked semifinal opponent as well. But everything’s all there in front of her for Saturday afternoon.
Jah’Mya Hill (Mainland, 5th): Has a reasonable chance for a top-six showing as a semifinalist, with either #7 or #9 in the quarters (by contrast, Hill pinned #6 and #8 at Region 1 two weekends ago), so she should podium this weekend. Semis might be tricky, but a top-four finish isn’t out of the question.
Jayden Dodge (West Port, 6th): Following in the footsteps of former champion Aspen Dodge, Jayden has a very winnable round-1 match and could test Shull n the quarters. The second consi quarter isn’t an ideal draw, but it does have some possibilities in it, so I would expect Dodge to podium this weekend.
Karla Ortiz (Westside, 8th): Got a tough draw in round 1 against #4 Gabriela Segre of South Dade, and could face a tough opponent in the consis, but Ortiz has shone brightly all season, and should have a good chance, if not a slam-dunk chance, to return to Jacksonville with a medal. But remember: Ortiz did pin Segre at the Ponte Vedra girls IBT.
Jasmine Hecht (Orange Park, 9th): Finishing fourth at Region 1 meant drawing the Region 4 champ and top-ranked Bethel in the first-round, but Hecht has a very real chance to make the podium. It’s very possible we could see a rematch of the Region 1 semi with Dodge, in which Dodge had to find a takedown in sudden victory.
Amy Etienne (Dr Phillips): The only unranked wrestler in the coverage area at states at this weight, and the only unranked wrestler in the bottom quarter, which could be a problem. But Etienne has seen solid competition over the past two years, and won’t be an easy out. She could be in the mix to medal.
Projected final: Henlee Haynes (Mosley, 1st) v Hayeni Costa (Celebration, 3rd).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Lilly Yambor (Gateway, 4th); Ferny Hernandez (South Dade, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Haynes: Talent-wise, Haynes can hang with anyone in the southeast. That’s never been in question, and her two finals appearances in 2020 and 2021 are a testament to that. But she will be tested, with Yambor likely in the quarters and then most likely Hernandez in the semis. They’ve seen more of the state’s competition, which is their best advantage.
Jazzmine Moore (Oakleaf, 5th): Has a winnable round-1 match, but then gets Costa in the quarters, which will be a test for her. Moving forward from there would be crucial, as there’s nothing easy waiting in the second consi quarter with a medal on the line. Moore’s still favored to podium, however.
Claire Holt (Tocoi Creek): Has been the breakout on the Toros’ squad this year, as the Bibla girls were much more known talents. Hernandez in round 1 is tough, and either #7 or #8 would wait in the first round of consis. A third match or better would be a great tournament.
Hannah Matalobos (Bartram Trail): Could be undervalued in the state rankings. Matalobos has a fellow unranked wrestler in round 1, which to me means winnable match. In the quarters would most likely be #6 Chella Antoine of Ft Myers, which on balance is not too bad of a quarterfinal draw. Could wrestle for a medal, for sure.
Cierra Young (Ocoee): Another one that could slightly be overlooked, but she has a tougher path. Antoine in round 1 and either Haynes or Yambor in consi round 2 is a tough go. Three matches at states would be a good tournament.
Projected final: Alyssa Favara (Palmetto Ridge, 1st) v Emiliana Martinez (Gateway, 4th).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Salexa Lontoc-Ortiz (Freedom, 6th); Megan Preston (Wiregrass Ranch, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Maggie Moss (Lincoln, 2nd): Could face ranked opposition in each of the first three rounds, and has Favara on the same side, her being nationally-ranked all season, in the semis. The path won’t be easy, but Moss should certainly podium this weekend and is in position for a tournament-wide upset in the semi.
Cheyenne Cruce (Middleburg, 5th): Her bad draw at regions (facing Moss in the semi) had double implications for this week, as she gets Preston in round 1. A win might springboard Cruce into the final, a loss doesn’t mean she won’t podium, but she might have to go through Lontoc-Ortiz to get it.
Jada Jones (Apopka, 7th): Could be a difficult hurdle for Moss to overcome in the quarters and will be difficult for anyone in the bottom consi quarter to get past, so I think Jones will medal this weekend when it’s all said and done.
Sydney Brown (Ed White, 10th): I hadn’t seen any results prior to the post-season, but Commanders do seem to do a good job of prepping upper-weight wrestlers. Drew #8 Aurika Kashayeva of Barron Collier in round 1, a win there is possible; from there, a podium finish would be quite likely.
Shyann Donaldson (Milton): Never mind the post-season record, she pinned three wrestlers in the Region 1 consis that were from higher-profile programs; if she can recover from Favara quickly in round 1, she can wrestle for a medal in consi round 2.
Projected final: Andrea Smith (Orange Park, 1st) v Kiara Brin (Freedom, 2nd).
Wildcards from elsewhere: Shanakay Chambers (Miami Norland, 3rd); Aniya Herbin (Jefferson, 6th).
Local analysis —
Smith: Won last unsanctioned girls’ state title a year ago while essentially wrestling a weight class up. Smith is faster and chain-wrestles better than every other heavier-weighted female wrestler in Florida I’ve seen. Brin’s best argument is the competition she’s seen has been a bit more varied.
Jada Arnold (Raines, 4th): Draws Brin in the quarters, which is not an ideal matchup, but if Arnold can consistently push the pace throughout the match and make Brin defensive, she may be able to advance through to the final. She’ll certainly podium this weekend.
Cheyenne Wigley (Mainland, 5th): Has a reasonable path to the semis and that would mean at least a top-six finish this weekend. The quarterfinal could be a challenge, but Wigley gets those on the weekly up north, and that competition will stand in her good stead.
Tanyah McCain (Dr Phillips): Drew #8 Destine’E Thomas of Cypress Lake in the first round, which as far as ranked wrestlers goes is not the worst round-1 draw. McCain should have a chance for a third match, no matter how the first round goes, but would be better if that first was a win.
Nahilu Lubin (Matanzas): The same for McCain is true for Lubin, though she got #3 Chambers in the first round, so it’s more likely she’ll have to push through the consis to get on podium. A round-1 loss might get a reasonable opponent in consi rd 1, but also (most likely) Arnold in consi rd 2.
Madison Benson (Windermere): Benson’s seen good competition by virtue of where she is in the state and even if round 1 against Herbin doesn’t go her way, her chances are not unreasonable in the consis, with either #7 or #9 coming down. A medal is doable.
Brackets for the state tournament can be found HERE.