1A 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: 1A duals champion Jensen Beach goes in as the favorite, though I would be willing to bet Somerset Academy and Mater Lakes Academy will find ways to tighten things up. Look for Palm Bay as a potential top-five threat. Clay could also crack the top five, with Suwannee and potentially Wakulla solid top-10 threats among teams in the coverage area.
Thoughts at each weight class, sure to be wrong —
Projected final: Sebastian Degennaro (Jensen Beach, 1st) v Lincoln Sledzianowski (Somerset Academy, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Logan Delos Santos (Palm Bay, 3rd); Jonathan Moder (First Baptist Academy, 4th).
Local analysis —
Topher Pearson (Suwannee, 6th): The District 2 and Region 1 champ has a reasonable first-round path against Mater Lakes, but most likely will have to get through #5 Jonathan Espinosa of Mulberry in the quarters. Even if that doesn’t go well, Pearson should land in the bottom consi quarter, which should be favorable to his medal chances.
Julian Harvey (Wakulla, 7th): After a pair of 3-1 losses to Pearson, Harvey gets a favorable draw against an unranked wrestler from Coral Shores. Delos Santos looms in the quarter, though; while the Pirate has the higher ranking, Harvey did win by fall when the two met in the 1A state duals semis last year. So I could see a Harvey-Sledzianowski semi.
Jacob Bucci (Clay, 8th): Drew Sledzianowski, the Somerset 8th-grade wunderkind, in round 1, but even if that doesn’t go well, if Bucci can rally, he can wrestle for a medal in the new “blood round” that is the second round of consis, although that’s going to be most likely against either Espinosa or Pearson.
Turner Glenn (Episcopal): Glenn drew Degennaro in the first round, and that is not great for front-side advancement chances, but consi rd-1 isn’t much easier, with either the #9 or #10 looming. A third match would be an ideal tournament at this level, where he would likely face Delos Santos or Harvey.
Projected final: Matthew Velasco (Somerset, 7th) v Peyton Vargas (Cardinal Gibbons, 3rd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Gavin Nolan (Clearwater CC, 1st); Alex McMiller (Satellite, 4th).
Local analysis —
Jay Brown (Liberty County, 10th): Brown is arguably in the mix for second-best 113 in the north after some kid from Fleming, but he hasn’t seen the variety of competition that some of the other kids in the bracket have. He’ll find out where he stands in the quarters against either #2 Andres DiGregoli of First Baptist or Velasco. Even if it doesn’t go well, though, he should medal on Saturday.
Eli Jolicoeur (Suwannee): Will get a tough test from #8 Raider Morelli of Space Coast in round 1; Morelli won at Clay Rotary at 113, while Jolicoeur spent most of the year at 106, helping the team by bumping up. Jolicoeur might see #9 Anthony O’Dell of Mater Lakes in consi round 1, so a tournament with three matches would be a pretty good finish.
Braden Glavin (Clay): Drew #5 Blaine Reed of Crystal River in round 1, which is a tough battle, but Glavin has a good chance to get a third match, with an easier consi than what Jolicoeur is looking at. But he might have to knock off Brown, or someone ranked higher than Brown, to earn a medal.
Connor Brown (Wakulla): For a region 4th, Brown’s draw isn’t too bad; yes, #4 McMiller in round 1 is a tough one. But Brown should get an unranked competitor like himself in consi round 1 and could well get a chance to wrestle for a medal, likely against Morelli, in round 2.
Projected final: Max Brewster (South Walton, 2nd) v Ryan Mooney (Jensen Beach, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Michael Kersey (First Baptist-Naples, 3rd); Jonathan Hudson (Cardinal Gibbons, 6th).
Local analysis —
Brewster: Knocking off a two-time state placer in the region final gets you a long look at Saturday night. Brewster has a very nice path to a medal for sure, while the rest of the quarters are somewhat to very loaded. There’s no one hugely better than King in the semis (and, most likely, none better), so if Brewster gets good rest after the quarter, Saturday afternoon should be his.
De’Quon King (Raines, 4th): King entered the post-season ranked #1 and if he wrestles like that for three rounds Thursday and Friday, could get to a Region 1 rematch. #1 Mooney in the quarters Friday morning will be the first major roadblock, and the third quarter will send out someone very good. Expect King to podium, no matter what happens in the quarters.
Maverick Rainwater (Clay, 5th): Gave King a good go in the Region 1 semis (9-7), but he is in the toughest of the quarters (or toughest two of the quarters), with #9 Sean McClure of Clearwater CC in round 1 and most likely #7 Shaver Jackson of Palm Bay in the quarters. Both of those are winnable, which will get Rainwater to the podium.
Blayden Tharpe (West Nassau): Drew Kersey in the first round, which isn’t a great draw, but Tharpe sees that level of competition often. One of two other ranked wrestlers would await in consi round 1. A third match would be a great tournament, but Tharpe should give good fight even if no third match.
Projected final: Jonny Dobbs (Jensen Beach, 2nd) v Nicholas Yancey (Cardinal Gibbons, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Tristan Sainz (Somerset Academy, 3rd); Talon Maple (Zephyrhills Christian, 4th).
Local analysis —
Brody Boehm (Suwannee, 7th): Boehm opens with a familiar opponent in Weeki Wachee’s Addison Breeding, with a ranked opponent in the quarters (either Sainz or #5 Amulek Partida of Bayshore). Boehm has found another level this year, but if the quarter doesn’t go well, his medal chances are still pretty decent coming into the bottom consi quarter.
Juan Jimenez (Wakulla, 9th): Has a solid but winnable round-1 match with unranked Anthony Dicks of Satellite, with Maple looming in the quarters. A win there would lock up the medal, a loss would likely mean going through #6 Brycen Warren of Lemon Bay in round 2, which will not be an easy task.
Isaac Brinson (South Walton): Opens with #10 Mason Medina of Bishop Moore, an experienced competitor, in round 1, but Brinson could get a chance for a third match and medal possibility if he can win one of his first two matches, but Boehm might be that third opponent.
Caden Kubatzke (Fernandina Beach): Will open against Region 3 champion and #8 Kris Hunter of Tenoroc, with a second ranked opponent looming in the first round of consis. For Kubatzke to get a third match on Friday would be a really good tournament, potentially with a rematch of the Region 1 quarterfinal against Jimenez.
Projected final: Dylan Garcia (Mater Lakes, 3rd) v Ronald Theilacker (Palm Bay, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Justin Brady (Lemon Bay, 6th); Ryan Duguay (Jensen Beach, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Mikade Harvey (Palatka, 4th): Has a very winnable round-1. The key is the quarterfinal Friday morning with Garcia. The winner of this match will be odds-on for Saturday afternoon. Harvey has two region titles and a state medal to his credit, so he’s not going to just let Garcia walk over him. If Harvey can use his speed and stay consistent through the six minutes, he could make the final.
Austin McKinney (Suwannee, 5th): The question is not so much will the talented Bulldog sophomore medal, but how far on the front can he go? Round 1 appears winnable, with Duguay set for the quarters. Duguay won Region 4 by 2-1 decision, with a decision in the semis, so there was not a massive separation. McKinney should be in the mix, but either way, he should have a good chance to medal.
Isaiah Wilson (Wakulla, 7th): The highest-ranked region 3rd in Florida 1A by dint of prior state medal, Wilson should also win in round 1, but he’ll have Theilacker in the quarters. Wilson should medal, as the consi second quarter appears fairly open for his level, but he’ll want to go higher than his ranking on Saturday.
Kevin Kerns (Deltona, 9th): One of our two Region 2 competitors in the coverage area, Kerns drew Garcia in round 1. That’s a tough draw, and while the consi side is reasonable in the first round, Kerns is looking at either Duguay or McKinney in the new blood round, with a medal on the line. At least three matches should be a reasonable expectation.
Christopher Hampton (Bishop Kenny): Opens with #6 Brady in round 1, and either a ranked wrestler or one from one of the state’s top 1A programs in the consis. Hampton would do very well to get a third match, but this will sharpen his appetite for off-season improvements and what is to come in the next two years.
Projected final: Jewell Williams (Jensen Beach, 1st) v Andrew DeSola (Am Heritage-Delray, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Daniel Ward (First Academy, 3rd); Billy Day (Cocoa Beach, 6th).
Local analysis —
Josh Kumpf (Clay, 4th): Has steadily made himself into Clay’s most improved wrestler over the past two seasons, but he’ll get tests from ranked wrestlers as soon as Thursday and #10 Rashad Hannon of Somerset in round 1. If Kumpf can win that, he should win a medal, as he majored #6 Day in the semis at Clay Rotary (13-5). Williams would be a tough time, but Kumpf could go for as high as third.
Brandon Lewis (Palatka, 5th): Last year didn’t end well for Lewis (injury), but medal chances should be pretty decent this year. There are tests, though, with #9 David Byelick of St Andrews in rd 1 and possibly one of the state’s most improved in #3 Ward, who won the Region 2 title, in the quarters. Two wins assures a medal, but a quarterfinal loss doesn’t rule it out.
Romero Black (Rutherford): Drew #2 DeSola in the opening round, which is not great, but there might be possibilities for Black in the first round of consis against another unranked competitor. Kumpf or Day coming down in a round-2 match might be another matter, but Black should get a chance to wrestle for a medal on Friday.
Corban Cherry (Bay): Will compete against #1 Williams in round 1, which is a tough setup, but there might be a possibility against a fellow-unranked wrestler in consi round 1. Still, though, a third match would be a really good tournament for Cherry.
Projected final: Nathan Furman (Palm Bay, 2nd) v Brandon Cody (Master’s Academy, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Azakin Sejour (Mater Lakes Academy, 3rd); Michael Sainz (Somerset, 4th).
Local analysis —
Luke Boree (Clay, 7th): Will get tests from the jump, with a 45-match winner in round 1 and then #2 Furman looms in the quarters, which is not a great matchup. There’s a chance for the semis, but the more-likely medals path is through the bottom consi quarter, though even that won’t be easy, as a prior Region 1 champion could be the opponent with a medal on the line.
Dylan Johns (Yulee, 8th): Will get a test from #10 Mikel Pierce-Walker of Jensen Beach in the first round; a win there would bring Cody in the quarters. Johns’ medal chances are reasonable but not 100%, as there’s a tough customer looming as a possible round-2 consi match, but at his best it should happen for him on Saturday.
Hayden Reeves (Wakulla, 9th): Opens the tournament with Sainz, who is a freshman but a very good freshman. Reeves has been around, though, and is capable of stringing together good results. A round-1 win would significantly enhance his chances of medaling, as the top consi quarter should be easier to advance through than the bottom appears to be.
Caleb Keigans (Florida High): Will get #3 Sejour in the first round, which is not an ideal situation. Either #6 Caleb Corridino (Lemon Bay) or a very solid Satellite wrestler is the likely opponent in consi round 1. A third match, most likely against Yulee’s Johns, would be a very good tournament on which to wrap a career.
Projected final: Mateo Villalobos (Bonita Springs, 1st) v Dylan Fox (Jensen Beach, 3rd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: (Rafael Romero, Am Heritage-Delray, 4th); Michael Shannon (Master’s Academy, 6th).
Local analysis —
Roberto Cuartero (Bishop Kenny, 2nd): I keep thinking the other shoe is going to drop soon. And maybe after his title at Clay and first title at Region 1, maybe it won’t, after all, but we’ll find out in the quarters against #4 Romero on Friday. I do think that Villalobos will be too strong in the semis, but, as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been wrong about Cuartero before, like I was at Clay.
Tyson Musgrove (Suwannee, 7th): It’s a tough path for Musgrove, with a 49-match winner in round 1 and the possibility of Fox in the quarters, but Musgrove can just about hang with anybody. What he’ll need in at least one of those matches, though, is the ability to progress beyond hanging with elite kids and attack them, which is his normal style. He does have a shot at a top-six finish if successful.
Dean Wright (Florida High): Will open with #8 Tyler Rodriguez of Port Charlotte, a match where he won’t be favored, and then there’ll be a ranked opponent in the consis (either Shannon or #9 Luis Bellon of Somerset). If Wright gets a third match by virtue of winning in round 1 or in the consis, that’s a good tournament.
Jae T Thaxton (Wakulla): Starts off with #1 Villalobos in the first round, which is not ideal, and then will have a ranked opponent in either #5 Robert Limperis of Cardinal Gibbons or #10 Avery Jackson of Palm Bay in the consis. Jackson is a reasonable match, but like Wright, a third match would be a solid tournament.
Projected final: Vish Williams (McKeel, 1st) v Konner Stuttgen (Bonita Springs, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Koen Hoffman (Lemon Bay, 3rd); Kendrick Hodge (Somerset, 4th).
Local analysis —
Enzo Gamba (Fernandina Beach, 6th): Enters tournament unbeaten and a 2x Region 1 champ, but schedule might need to get tougher over the next two years to get more exposure to the elite kids. First-rounder is winnable and there’s a very solid chance to podium, but facing either #3 Hoffman or #8 Omer Barak of Am Heritage-Delray in the quarters would be a tall order.
Austin Howard (Suwannee, 9th): Opens tournament with #7 Kevin Coon of Villages, a solid competitor much like Howard (both juniors and 50-plus match winners), but the winner will get Region 3 champ Stuttgen in the quarters, who beat Hoffman in the final last week. Howard’s medal chances improve dramatically with a round-1 win.
Collin Hearn (Bishop Kenny, 10th): Hearn appears to be on form heading into his second state appearance, and has a winnable first-rounder against unranked Brycen Turner of Palm Bay, but will need to keep form to do that. Hodge would await in the quarters, and Hearn will need to punch above his rank to win in consi round 2 (likely against Barak) and medal.
Luca Fiannca (Clay): Drew #1 Williams in round 1, which is not great; there may be a possibility for a consi-side win if he can recover quickly, but a third match probably promises either Coon or Howard in the blood round, both of which would be uphill tasks. Still, though, in getting to states, Fiannca is used to that.
Projected final: Carson Schiavello (Clearwater CC, 4th) v Christian Moder (First Baptist-Naples, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Nate Sopotnick (Jensen Beach, 7th); Michael McCarthy (Satellite, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Ethan Larsen (Clay, 9th): The Region 1 champ has a tough draw, with Cardinal Gibbons in the first round (4th in Region 4, to be sure, but it’s Gibbons) and most likely #3 Chase Alden of Lemon Bay in the quarters. If Larsen wins in round 1, he has a decent chance to end his career with a state medal, as the bottom consi quarter doesn’t look crazy.
Xander Hawkes (Florida High): Opens with #8 Anthony Nicolosi of Am Heritage-Delray in round 1, and then another ranked opponent in either McCarthy or #6 Andrew Crouch of Berkeley Prep in consi round 1. Winning against a ranked opponent is going to be a must if Hawkes will wrestle for a medal.
James Prentice (Suwannee): Prentice also gets a ranked opponent in round 1, in #10 Elon Martin of St Andrews, but that’s maybe a doable enterprise for the Bulldog, who’ll want team points, as Martin wasn’t ranked before regions. Moder would loom in the quarters, but there are possibilities for Prentice to wrestle for a medal no matter whether in the top or bottom consi quarter.
Luke Ghannam (Bishop Kenny): Has a tough draw, with #7 Nate Sopotnick of Jensen Beach in round 1 and then a ranked opponent in either Schiavello or #5 Owen McNabb of McKeel Academy. A third match would be a terrific tournament for Ghannam this year.
Projected final: Joseph Nicolosi (Am Heritage-Delray, 3rd) v Lance Schyck (Lemon Bay, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Kyle Grey (Lincoln Park Academy, 4th); Michael Mocco (Coral Springs Charter, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Dominic Martin (Clay, 5th): A semifinal berth isn’t out of reach for Martin, which would guarantee top-six. The key will be the quarterfinal against either #7 Cole Kanehl of Hudson or #4 Grey. It’s doable. I see traps in the bottom quarter consi, which are also navigable, but less desirable, for Martin. Even the semi against Nicolosi could be quite intense.
Alex Smith (Yulee, 10th): This is somebody an above-average wrestler in this bracket doesn’t want to face. A very interesting first-rounder with #8 Wayne Campbell of McKeel, which Smith can win. That would bring Mocco, who should be familiar to Smith from the national-level circles in which he has run in the youth levels. Smith has a chance to podium this weekend, but he’ll need to beat someone ranked above him.
Tyler Edenfield (Wakulla): Drew #9 Octavion Osby of Palm Bay in the first round; Osby is a tough opponent, as Edenfield found out at state duals last year. There’s a winnable match on the consi side, but getting on to medal means, most likely, beating Nicolosi or #6 Jaden Markus of Villages in the blood round.
Lucas Crawford (Fernandina Beach): Is capable of defying the odds, but will open with Markus in round 1. There’s a winnable consi match and then most likely Osby in the blood round. I wouldn’t put it past him to medal, but three matches is also a solid tournament weekend.
Projected final: David Mercado (North Bay Haven, 2nd) v Mikey Tal Shahar (Am Heritage-Delray, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Zach Lewicki (Key West, 4th); Caleo Carrera (Palm Bay, 8th).
Local analysis —
Mercado: The present meets the future on Saturday afternoon, as Mercado should make it out of what is the stronger half of the bracket, with a 55-match winner in round 1, a likely matchup with Lewicki (who lost 6-0 to Clay’s Garrett Tyre at Rotary) in the quarters and either one of two Clay Rotary rematches as a semifinal (both of which Mercado won by fall). So it’s the titan in the final on Saturday afternoon.
Toby Kinghorn (Baker County, 5th): Kinghorn took fourth after forfeiting a couple of rounds at Wakulla and will get #6 Izaiah Jauma of Villages, who was 3rd at Clay (Kinghorn 2nd, they did not meet) and the Region 2 champ, in round 1. If healthy, Kinghorn can win that, and #3 Matt O’Hara of Jensen Beach would be next in the quarters. It’s a tall order, but if healthy, Kinghorn should get on podium.
Kedtric Wilbon (Clay, 7th): Wilbon will get an assessment right away of where he stands, with #8 Carrera in round 1 and possibly #9 Josiah Arroyo of Port Charlotte in the quarters. By the rankings, Wilbon should make the semis and therefore medal. Forward progress would be better than going through Kinghorn’s quarter and having to wrestle there to get a medal.
Christopher Aud (Yulee): Aud, who’s also part of the next wave of Hornet uppers, is likely to face two unranked wrestlers like him in the first two rounds Thursday, but if he can win his first-rounder over Space Coast’s Jaydon Sheely, Tal Shahar would await in the quarters. Going up to the first consi quarter might be harder than staying in the bottom one.
Projected final: Garrett Tyre (Clay, 1st) v Jamari Watson (Raines, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Pharee Reed (Lakewood, 3rd); Darian Gillins (Tenoroc, 4th).
Local analysis —
Tyre: Has been rolling right along through the post-season and has a pretty straightforward path to at least the semis, with a possible meetup with the #9, Mater Lakes’ Damian Soto, in the quarters. There should be a solid competitor — either #3 Reed or #7 Tim Gray of Crystal River — in the semis, but nothing that should slow Tyre down to Saturday afternoon.
Watson: Watson’s toughest competition could come Thursday afternoon against #5 Okten Logue of Port Charlotte in round 1; the quarter, with Region 4 champ Ruben Estrada, the #6 from Miami Sunset, might be a little easier, although Region 2 champ Collins will not be in the semi. Watson at his best should be enough to make the final, however.
Braylen Ricks (Yulee, 8th): Could see ranked competition throughout the tournament, with #10 Corbin Caldwell of Anclote in round 1 and possibly Gillins in the quarters. A round-1 win will be key to medal chances, though, as the third consi quarter, with either Reed or Gray coming in, will be tougher than the second one and an unranked opponent.
Kohl Pippin (Wakulla): Is matched up with #3 Reed in the first round and more experienced opposition in the consis, so while the experience of a first state tournament will be good to feed offseason work and further success down the road, the odds of a third match are not great and a medal chance even less so.
Projected final: Ethan Vergara (Mater Lakes Academy, 1st) v Matthew Jimenez (Somerset Academy, 3rd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Carlos Gerardino (Palm Bay, 5th); Caleb Rodriguez (First Baptist-Naples, 4th).
Local analysis —
Jack Pyburn (Bolles, 2nd): The pick is a head pick, based upon Vergara’s past in the weight class and the competition he has seen. But. There is no chance at all that Pyburn finishes lower than third. None. And, if Pyburn wrestles as he did at states last year, no 285 in this class or any other in Florida would beat him. We’ll see in Friday’s quarter with #5 Devin Williams of Hernando if the 2021 state Pyburn returns in 2022.
Nick Lee (South Walton, 8th): Drew #7 Andre Otto of Key West in the first round; they met in the third-place match at Clay, where Otto won by fall in 41 seconds. I don’t think this match ends that soon, but that’s a quick fall. Lee is likely to wrestle either the #9 or #10 with a medal on the line, which is quite possible.
Ethan Daniels (Clay): Won’t be favored against Jimenez, who should make the final under most scenarios. But if Daniels can stay off his back, keep things tight, in round 1, he has a decent chance of securing a third match, although that’s likely to be Williams coming down after the loss to Pyburn.
Nathan Hatch (Deltona): Will take on #4 Rodriguez in the first round, normally 8th-grade 285s are at a disadvantage strength-wise against older kids, but Rodriguez won the Region 3 title. Hatch and Daniels should be a competitive match in consi round-1, whoever wins it will have earned that third opportunity.
Chase Crews (Baker County): Crews will face #1 Vergara in round 1, with either the #9 or the #10 waiting in the wings in the consis. Crews has had some nice success in this his first starting season, and it wouldn’t be impossible to envision a third match, but it would be against the odds.
Brackets for the state tournament can be found HERE.