2A 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: While Tampa Jesuit and Charlotte were just 1.5 points apart in the Region 3 tournament last weekend, look for Jesuit — which has four or five state-champion threats — to pull away a bit further. Lake Gibson should be in the top-3 mix and Fleming Island should have a possibility to finish as high as fourth, along with Brandon and Winter Springs.
Thoughts at each weight class, sure to be wrong —
Projected final: Camren French (Charlotte, 2nd) v Roman Lermer (Tampa Jesuit, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Roberto Rodriguez (Brandon, 4th); Colt Brown (Lake Gibson, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Shane Duhaylungsod (Fleming Island, 9th): With a first-rounder against Region 4’s fourth, a quarterfinal appearance is looking quite possible, with either Rodriguez or Braden River’s #6 Grady Murphy looming there. Even if that doesn’t go Duhaylungsod’s way, going into the bottom consi quarter doesn’t appear to be an overly-difficult path, so we should see him on the podium this weekend.
Derrick Williams (Mosley, 10th): Has a tricky quarter to navigate, opening against unranked (but 54-win) Aiden Baker of Heritage. Brown or #7 Richard Albert (Cape Coral) would be the quarterfinal opponent. Two wins would be the best path, of course, but either a first-round or quarterfinal loss will require a win over a higher-ranked opponent to earn a medal, which won’t be easy.
Jackson Hornback (Middleburg): Opens with a fellow-unranked freshman in St Thomas Aquinas’ Jake Avarello, which could provide a chance to make a quarterfinal appearance. But either way, Hornback should be able to obtain a third match and wrestle on Friday for a medal, though that will mean seeing either Shane or maybe a higher-ranked wrestler to try to win one.
Landon Burbidge (Ft Walton Beach): Is the only unranked wrestler in the second quarter, opening with #8 Fredrick Mitchum of Southridge, with either French or #5 Cole Henderson of Land O’Lakes in either the quarter or the first round of consis. A third match Friday would be a very good tournament experience.
Projected final: Jayce Paridon (Fleming Island, 1st) v Maximus Brady (Mariner, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Draven McCall (Tampa Jesuit, 3rd); Elijah Lowe (Lake Gibson, 6th).
Local analysis —
Paridon: The path to what could be a multiple-title career begins this weekend. There will be tests to be sure (#4 Kaiden Ballinger of Charlotte on Friday morning, either McCall or Lowe in the semis Friday afternoon, and then Brady on Saturday). But Brady and McCall, at this point, are going to be known commodities as fellow 9th-graders. On form, no one should slow Paridon too much.
Vaniel Caceres (Lincoln, 7th): Will get solid tests early, with #9 Logan O’Leary (Mitchell) in the first round and then potentially Brady in the quarters. Winning the round-1 match is key for Caceres’ medal chances, because the second consi quarter looks much better than trying to go through the third and either McCall or Lowe.
Grady Woodard (Middleburg, 10th): Drew unranked Pedro Sifuentes of East River in the first round, which is a winnable match. Winning in round 1 is critical to a podium effort, because the first consi quarter is much more manageable than the bottom one. Woodard has a chance for a semifinal appearance as well, with either #5 Enis Ljikovic (Barron Collier) or #8 Holden Kapsos (Suncoast) in quarters.
Deagan Kilpatrick (Choctaw): Opens with Lowe in round 1, which is not a great matchup, but he should have a winnable round-1 match in the consis and get a chance to wrestle for a medal on Friday, although the opponent is going to likely be either Caceres or O’Leary. Kilpatrick’s defied the odds before, though, after doing it at regions to get out.
Projected final: Patrick Nolan (Charlotte, 3rd) v Tyson Lane (Brandon, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Ryan Phillips (Winter Springs, 2nd); Danny Vargas (Tampa Jesuit, 5th).
Local analysis —
Laird Duhaylungsod (Fleming Island, 6th): A medal run is very possible for Duhaylungsod, but he’ll face probably the strongest region 4th in 52-match winner Zavier Pennington (Braden River) in round 1, with either Phillips or #10 Sonny Hancock (Okeechobee) in the quarters (or consis). Even if the quarter doesn’t go his way, the landing spot in the bottom consi should favor him to make the podium this weekend.
Wyatt Leduc (Middleburg, 7th): Broke through with a Region 1 finals appearance to move up a couple of spots in the rankings, but drew Vargas in the opening round. That’s going to be a first-round match to watch. Leduc has a lot of talent and is already a consummate scrambler, and he’ll need that Thursday. Getting a round-1 win is a best-case scenario for a medal, but either way, a third match is very likely.
Jashawn Washington (Lincoln): Will begin a tournament run with #4 Voshawn Baker (Dixie Hollins) in the first round, which is not a great start, and could face a tough senior on the consi side of things. But Washington battled against the odds and beat those who’d beaten him at regions, so he could wrestle for his medal chances on Friday.
Ryden Ashmore (Fletcher): Opens with #3 Nolan in the first round, who is a legit threat for the final, but could also face a fellow unranked opponent in the first round of consis. That suggests a path to wrestle for a medal Friday, which would be an uphill battle but a good way to close a high school career as well.
Projected final: Darrell Tabor (Brandon, 4th) v Andrew Austin (Charlotte, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Lowden Ward (Dixie Hollins, 3rd); Alexander Exalant (North Miami, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Jamey Bruner (New Smyrna Beach, 5th): Has a winnable match with a River Ridge freshman in round 1, and would then get a look at Ward, who lost his first match of the season to Austin in the Region 3 final, and by a pretty good margin. Bruner has a shot at the semis, a legit shot, and perhaps further with his best wrestling, but if he doesn’t get there, he will podium this weekend, as the bottom consi quarter looks good.
Garrett Marschka (Chiles, 6th): Has a round-1 match he can win, but will be tested, against #9 Damian Rodriguez of Gaither, which would bring Exalant, most likely, in the quarters. It’s not impossible for Marschka, with a lot of experience, to win twice, but if not, as long as the round-1 win happens, he should podium this weekend.
Riley Girgis (Middleburg, 7th): Also has a winnable match but a good test in round 1 against #10 Silas Mantero (Winter Springs), with #1 Austin lurking in the quarters. Girgis’ medal chances are better than 50-50, but he’ll need to win in round 1 and then rally well, without much time to do so, in consi round 2 against another solid senior to get there.
Michael Mancuso (Gulf Breeze): Had a good region tournament to get to this level, but will open with #4 Tabor in the first round and then perhaps face either #8 Nathan McGill of Tampa Jesuit or 47-match winner Jeremiah Johnson of Merritt Island in the consis. A third match on Friday is a good building block for the next two seasons.
Projected final: Braden Basile (Jesuit, 1st) v Hayden Whidden (Lake Gibson, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Roman Maldonado (Heritage, 4th); Charlie Armstrong (Okeechobee, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Joshua Mukaddam (Fleming Island, 9th): As Region 1 champ, Mukaddam gets a good draw in an unranked wrestler from East Bay, out of Region 3, and then faces similarly-ranked wrestlers in the quarters in either #8 Eddie Sears (Merritt Island) or #10 Austin Revell (River Ridge). Semifinals — and therefore top 6 — are a real possibility.
Hunter Brown (Chiles): Has a decent if not ideal draw for an unranked wrestler, with #7 Jonathan Martinez (Dunbar) in round 1. Brown might have a shot at the quarters, with Armstrong in wait there, but even with a first-round loss, a reasonable consi match against a fellow long-time solid competitor could also result in a third match. There’s a possibility for a Region 1 finals-rematch in the consis.
Mark Willis (Belleview): Will open with #5 Caleb Seneca (Ft Myers) in round 1, which isn’t a great draw, but Willis should have a winnable match in consi round 1 and should get a chance to wrestle for a medal, but it will most likely be against another highly-ranked competitor, either Maldonado or #6 Blaine Jones (Brandon).
Wilson Nguyen (St Augustine): Was slotted into the toughest quarter and will face Basile in round 1, with a ranked competitor in the consis. A third match would be an excellent tournament for Nguyen, who will likely face nothing but ranked opposition throughout his tournament.
Projected final: Joshua Gallo (Springstead, 3rd) v Christopher Minto (Mariner, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Gianni Maldonado (Brandon, 4th); Alex Walker (Lake Gibson, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Kaden Schaefer (Fleming Island, 6th): Like Mukaddam the weight before, there’s a solid semifinal possibility — and thus a top-6 medal guarantee — with an opening-rounder against an unranked Merritt Island freshman and then Gallo in the quarters. The rankings suggest Gallo’s the favorite and they could be right, but Schaefer has seen more than his share of elite competition and won’t be intimidated.
Maeson Otwell (Pace, 10th): Otwell pushed through to the Region 1 final, and it would not be crazy for him to open with a round-1 win over #8 Nicholas Dukes of Southridge. He’ll need it, because going into the second consi bracket might be an easier route to a medal than would a first-round loss and slot into the 3rd consi quarter, with either the #4 or #7 coming in.
Jace Engberg (New Smyrna Beach): Engberg opens with another senior in #9 Kylen McQueen of Sebastian River; while ranked, this is not a bad first-round draw and Engberg can win it. That would help his medal chances significantly, because the first consi quarter looks ripe for advancement, even in the event of a loss in the quarters to Minto.
Olleon Hickmon (Westside): Hickmon opens with #7 Gabriel Ferreira (Heritage), the Region 4 champ, so that’s not a great draw, but there might be a possibility in consi round 1 against another unranked competitor. A third match is possible, but will be a tricky to advance through to a medal.
Projected final: Blake Walker (Lake Gibson, 3rd) v Tom Crook (Tampa Jesuit, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: John Vadyak (Ft Myers, 4th); Riley Chapdelaine (Winter Springs, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Matthew Kotler (Fleming Island, 7th): Might be the only Region 1 wrestler with better-than-average chance to medal this weekend, with a reasonable first-round match that should send Kotler at least to the bottom consi quarte, where there are chances against unranked wrestlers. The quarterfinal against Walker or Vadyak might be too strong, but over the next two years expect Kotler to reach their level.
Nolan Zirgibel (Leon, 8th): Zirgibel’s been in there swinging for a state medal for some time, and if he can push past Merritt Island’s Jacob Pitcher in round 1, that might happen this weekend. Chapdelaine in the quarters would be a tough opponent, but there’s some possibility for opportunity in the second consi quarter. It’s an uphill battle, but it is possible.
JJ Martinez (Niceville): Opens with a fellow unranked wrestler in St Thomas Aquinas’ Ethan Wigutow, which might offer an opportunity for a front-side win, but things get crazier from there, with Crook in the quarters and a very tough consi-round 2 opponent in the top quarter. Staying in the bottom and taking chances with Kotler coming down might not be much better, given their regions matchup, but it is a little better of a chance.
DiSean Hires (Englewood): Hires begins the tournament with #9 Julian Mayorga (Southridge), the lowest-ranked of the four region champs, so on that basis it’s not a bad draw. Winning in round 1 would be critical, though, because the consi side will bring an even higher-ranked wrestler. A medal’s not impossible, but three matches would still be a good tournament.
Projected final: Jack Crook (Tampa Jesuit, 1st) v Isaac Church (Charlotte, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Logan Simpson (Citrus, 7th); Dylan Quiroga (Merritt Island, 5th).
Local analysis —
Nick Hejke (Mosley, 3rd): Hejke has the tougher half of the bracket, with Crook looming as a semiifnalist. But, before that, Hejke has three unranked opponents in his quarter, so earning another state medal through a top-six finish is more than well within his capabiilty. Hejke seems to have regained his full form after a loss by fall in the finals at Clay.
Tyson Mills (Matanzas, 4th): Will start off with Church in the first round, which is not a great matchup for any region runnerup (Church and Crook met up in the semis, meaning best Church could do would be 3rd in Region 3). From there, though, it might be some while before Mills would lose again, perhaps Saturday morning, so he will podium in any event. A first-round win, of course, could put Mills in line for the final.
Christopher Chop (Fleming Island, 6th): By the rankings, Chop should advance to the semis and thereby earn a top-six finish this weekend. He’ll face #9 Isaiah Castro (Mariner) in round 1 and is likelier to take on Brandon’s #8 Tyler Smith in the quarters. If he wrestles his matches, he will place this weekend and can take aim at perhaps moving up the podium.
Connor Edwards (Lincoln, 7th): Opens with Crook in round 1, which is a not-great start to to things, but Edwards should be able to advance to a third match no matter who his round-1 opponent in the second consi quarter might be. He’s seen Chop, but if it’s another opponent in either the #8 or #9, there might be a solid opportunity to obtain a medal.
Projected final: Brendon Abdon (Lake Gibson, 1st) v Elijah Penton (Winter Springs, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: James Baltutis (Charlotte, 8th); Frank Diaz (Brandon, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Clint Griffin (St Augustine, 6th): With most of the ranked wrestlers in the bottom half of the bracket, Griffin could be Abdon’s semifinal opponent on Friday; that position would guarantee a top-six medal. Griffin starts with an unranked Gaither wrestler in the first round and will likely see #8 James Baltutis of Charlotte in the quarters. That could be a tossup, but even if it doesn’t go Griffin’s way, the podium possibility is still very much there.
Atticus Waters (Pace, 7th): Waters draws #3 Diaz in round 1, which is an uphill battle, as Diaz was second before the Region 2 tournament and will have something to prove. Waters should be solidly favored in the consis, though, through at least two rounds, so a podium weekend is very much in his future. There could even be a chance for a top-six finish.
Ronan Bozeman (Fleming Island, 9th): Bozeman’s tournament begins with #2 Penton in the first round, which will be a tough outing. Most likely, the consi-side opponent would be unranked from Dixie Hollins, which should be enough to move Bozeman into wrestling for a medal, but he’ll have to prove he can beat a wrestler with a higher ranking in the blood round, more likely than not, in order to medal.
Trevion Sermons (Orange Park): Sermons will open with #1 Abdon in the first round, which is a tough matchup. However, Sermons could find some purchase in the first round of consis against either the #10 from Tampa Jesuit or an unranked Eau Gallie wrestler. There will be a highly ranked competitor coming from the third quarter, though, but three matches would be a good tournament toward perhaps a medal in 2023.
Projected final: Josiah Jenkins (Tampa Jesuit, 3rd) v Frank Solorzano (Lake Gibson, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Davis Deal (Winter Springs, 7th); Cory Cannan (Barron Collier, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Jordan Mills (Matanzas, 4th): There are no ranked wrestlers coming out of Region 4, which the Region 1 kids all get. Could Mills make the final? I didn’t think he would beat the two guys he did at regions, so he just might, yeah. With all the talent he’s displayed in just winning regions, it might even more fully come out this weekend against more elite competition.
Joseph Rice (Columbia, 5th): Falling in the Region 1 final was a setback, but Rice should get right back on the horse with a round-1 win Thursday. He would face Solorzano in the quarters, with whom he’s had good battles but in losing causes, but should be able to battle his way back to a medal finish, at long last, through the second consi.
Joshua Sandoval (Fleming Island, 6th): Like Rice, Sandoval has a very winnable first-rounder, but then will face one of the titans of the weight class in Cannan in the quarters. Moving into the top consi quarters shouldn’t be too bad, however, and Sandoval might get a chance to face Rice in the consi quarters for a top-six medal in play.
Martin Black (Niceville, 10th): Gets the Region 4 champion in Merritt Island’s Nick Lesch, who’s unranked. Winning that match would be absolutely critical for Black’s medal chances, as a loss would mean beating not just one but two higher-ranked wrestlers in the consis, with either Jenkins or Deal in round 1 and then possibly Rice in round 2.
Projected final: Dylan Deal (Winter Springs, 3rd) v Brian Burburija (Countryside, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Tyrone Livingstone (Cypress Lake, 4th); Cooper Wallace (Edgewater, 7th).
Local analysis —
Jhoel Robinson (Fleming Island, 2nd): Can Robinson get to Saturday afternoo? Absolutely. It won’t be easy, with probable ranked opponents throughout the tournament (#9 Chris Matos of East River in round 1, likely #4 Tyrone Livingstone of Cypress Lake in the quarters and then Deal in the semis). Deal also is defending a state title, and winning on Saturday matters. Robinson will podium, highly, and will get a chance to wrestle for the final.
Harrisen Wall (Niceville, 10th): Wall will face #8 Jayvien Haynes (Lake Gibson) in the opening round, in what is a not-great quarter, with Burburija and a 40-win Merritt Island sophomore also in the foursome, with another ranked wrestler coming in from the second quarter on the consi side. Wall will have to beat someone ranked above him to medal this weekend.
Sawyer VanRider (New Smyrna Beach): VanRider will start with Wallace in the first round, and the bottom quarter is pretty loaded, with either a 49-match winner or #6 Jonathan Tumblin (Sebastian River) the next opponent. A win in one of those matches would lead to a solid tournament experience and a fair amount on which to build for the next two years.
Isaac Waters (Pace): Waters begins his tournament with Deal in the first round, and a defending state champ is never an ideal way to start. The first round of consis might offer an opportunity to wrestle for a medal on Friday, but that might not be a whole lot easier of a path.
Projected final: Cayden Bevis (Lincoln, 2nd) v Sergio Desiante (Tampa Jesuit, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Cael Newton (Charlotte, 3rd); Rafael Camarena (Sebastian River, 5th).
Local analysis —
Bevis: Is wrestling as though he’s on track for a Saturday-afternoon appearance, but he will get two Friday tests, with Newton the most likely quarterfinal roadblock and then either the #4 or #6 wrestler in the semis. At top form, though, the top half of the bracket is Bevis’ to move through to get a shot at top-ranked Desiante, who should not have issues moving through the bottom half.
Dylon York (New Smyrna Beach, 7th): By the rankings, York is a slight favorite in the first round over #10 Tristan Vann (Lake Gibson), but that team will be pushing hard for team points. It will be a solid challenge, but necessary for medal chances, because the second consi quarter looks more of a secure medal path than the third, where another ranked wrestler joins the fray.
Aidan Bryan (Pace, 8th): Bryan gets a similarly-situated first-round draw with #9 Luis Valdes (Winter Springs), the epitome of a toss-up first-rounder. A win is doable, if not necessary, for medal opportunities, as there’ll be an exceptionally good competitor coming down from the top quarter in the consis. Bryan will want to push into at least the top consi quarter, but may have a semis shot.
Landon Wright (Matanzas): Wright defied the odds in simply getting to the state tournament this year, where he’ll open with #6 Nigel Williams (Jones), the Region 2 champ, who’s unbeaten. Stranger things have happened, but even in the event of a loss, Wright has a reasonable shot at a third match and wrestling for a medal.
Projected final: Cedric Fairrow (Ft Walton Beach, 1st) v Derrick Mosley (Ridgeview, 3rd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Morvens Saint Jean (Ft Myers, 2nd); Theotis Smith (Zephyrhills, 4th).
Local analysis —
Fairrow: Has already seen Saint Jean, who’s likely to be the Friday semifinal opponent, with probably #8 Jaeden Kinlock (Am Heritage-Plantation) in the quarters. Though nothing’s ever a sure thing, if Fairrow stays on his best game, as he’s done all season, Saturday afternoon should be his to push through to a title.
Mosley: With the 1 and 2 in the other half of the bracket, there’s a path back to Saturday afternoon for him, but he will face ranked wrestlers in each round, opening with #10 Nathaniel Box (Charlotte) in round 1 and a solid likelihood against #6 Jose Monroy (Okeechobee) in the quarters, with, most likely, Smith in the semis.
Omarion LaRoach (Lincoln, 6th): It’s not an impossible stretch for LaRoach to make the semis, but wins over two ranked wrestlers would be necessary (#9 Beau Higginbotham of Dunbar in round 1, Smith in the quarters). That would guarantee a medal, but a quarterfinal loss would have LaRoach landing in the second consi quarter, which should be an opportunity to move forward.
Austin Mitchum (New Smyrna Beach): Gets Saint Jean, the Region 3 champ, in the first round, but might have an opportunity to move into a third match on Friday. If it’s LaRoach, he was in the mix, as they went 3-2 in the the Region 1 third-place match, so a medal isn’t completely out of reach this weekend.
Projected final: Toby Matson (Fletcher, 3rd) v Jeremiah Jackson (Kathleen, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Brainys Robles (Liberty, 4th); Biaggio Frattarelli (Charlotte, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Matson: With the #1 and #2 on the other half of the bracket, all eyes will be on Matson in the top half this weekend. The first test, with Robles in the quarters, will tell the tale if Saturday afternoon’s in the cards or not. Matson’s grown his athleticism to go along with his strength, and while the real culmination of all that growth might be shown more in 2023 than this weekend, there’s a real shot for the final.
Spencer Mackenzie (Ft Walton Beach, 7th): Best path to a medal is winning in round 1 over #8 Woodens Pierrelouis (North Miami), because a loss there keeps Mackenzie in the bottom quarter, with either Matson or Robles coming down to that quarter in round 2. So the key to the medal is winning the first one, with Frattarelli looming as a quarterfinalist. It’s doable.
Ethan Hoffstetter (Fleming Island, 9th): Has a winnable match against an unranked Eau Gallie freshman in round 1, but would be getting Jackson in the quarters, and that would be a task-plus. There could be a path to a medal through the second consi quarter, possibly against the #10 from Palmetto, but Hoffstetter would need a good recovery on short time to make that happen.
Nic Weaver (Lincoln): Drew Region 4 champ and state #6 Williams Clement (Heritage) in the first round, with either #5 or #10 in the quarters or consis. A third match on Friday would be a good tournament and career-wrapping experience after being slotted into a quarter with three ranked kids.
Brackets for the state tournament can be found HERE.