3A 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: Much as the heart pick is to continue with South Dade as the favorite here until they’re beaten, the smart money is on Palmetto Ridge to take the IBT title. South Dade was nearly beaten last week at regions, tying with Southwest Miami for the Region 4 title, and the Eagles will have a lot to say this weekend too. Osceola, the “host” program, should be in the mix for a top-five space. Flagler Palm Coast could contend at that level, but I see them as most likely to fit into the 6-10 category, with just one region champ in attendace for the weekend.
Thoughts at each weight class, sure to be wrong —
Projected final: Gabriel Tellez (Southwest Miami, 1st) v Josh Hartley (Palm Harbor University, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Nathaniel Overman (Bloomingdale, 5th); Christian Vasquez (Doral Academy, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Aydan Ruano (Forest, 7th): Might be the most improved wrestler in north Florida for 3A, but will that be enough for a medal this weekend? He’s got a tough one from the jump with #8 Dylan Lopez (Braddock) in round 1, which can be won but with some work. Ruano then would be looking at #6 Eliezer Torres (Riverview) in the quarters. Semis are possible, but, then, so might an 0-2 Thursday be.
Timothy McLean (Flagler Palm Coast): Opens with #4 Andrew Punzalan (Cypress Bay), a 62-match winner, in round 1. That is a tough matchup. There might be something winnable on the consi side, but McLean would have to show that he can defeat a ranked wrestler at some point, whether on the front or in consis, in order to get a medal.
Jean Vazquez (Timber Creek): Drew #3 Vasquez with an s in round 1, and Region 4 draws have historically not worked out so well for Region 1 kids. Vazquez should be able to win on the back side and still have a chance to wrestle for a medal, but he, too, will have to defeat a ranked wrestler somewhere along the way in order to obtain a medal this weekend.
Aiden Vick (Hagerty): Vick has three ranked wrestlers in his quarter; he’ll start against #1 Tellez in the first round, with either #5 Overman or #10 Marco Luciano of Seminole Ridge in the consis. It’s an uphill battle, to be sure, but one that should whet the appetite for offseason work in anticipation of future state trips.
Projected final: Tyler Washburn (Palmetto Ridge, 1st) v Patrick Jones (Wellington, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Isaac Gibbs (Olympic Heights, 3rd); Kevin Placer (Southwest Miami, 4th).
Local analysis —
Trenton Dominguez (Timber Creek, 8th): Will have a winnable round-1 match over Sarasota Riverview, but it’s the quarter agasint either Gibbs or #6 Jordan Escarra (Cypress Bay) that could tell the story on whether Dominguez medals. Two wins means top-six and a guaranteed medal, but a trip to consi round 2 should still result in a podium finish, either way.
Lochlann Higgins (Hagerty): Higgins will face #10 Christian Stibich (Lennard) in the opening round, and for an unranked vs ranked wrestler scenario such as this, facing a #10 is about as best case as it gets. Higgins has an experience factor in his favor and should be favored in the consi, but whoever comes down is not a great prospect. Higgins must win in round 1 for best medal chances.
Grady Bryant (DeLand): Bryant will take on #7 Ayden Balma of Riverdale in the opening round, and if that should not go in his favor, Bryant will have a decent consi-side round 1 match, most likely against Treasure Coast. But even that will take work to win, and if so, the next opponent could very well be Dominguez, who largely had his way against the rest of the region.
Carson Baert (Flagler Palm Coast): Drew #1 Washburn in the first round, which is not great for the freshman, nor is facing a ranked opponent (either #5 Luis Acevedo of South Dade or #9 Evan Martinez of Freedom) in the first round of consis. A third match would be a really good tournament this year for Baert.
Projected final: Ethan Vugman (Bartram Trail, 2nd) v Colin Bradshaw (Steinbrenner, 3rd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: David Corret-jer (Palm Beach Gardens, 4th); Christian Guzman (Columbus, 1st).
Local analysis —
Vugman: Has all the tools and the solid draw to get through to Saturday afternoon. Very few kids have worked harder 12 months a year to get better. He’ll probably face #10 Ryan Cominsky (Southwest Miami) in the quarters and most likely Corret-jer in the semis, but #5 Blaine Taranto (Venice) is another possibility. If fully on point, Vugman will make it to the final.
Kole Hannant (Flagler Palm Coast, 6th): Opens with #8 Daniel Echeverria (Centennial) in the first round, which is a match that Hannant can win based upon the competition that he has faced. Bradshaw, a move-down from Pennsylvania, is said to be beastly and could be a difficult challenge, but if it doesn’t work out, the second consi quarter should be a good spot to land and build a podium finish from there.
Tamarion Kendrick (Apopka, 7th): The Region 1 runnerup drew #9 Carson Estrada (Harmony) in the opening round, with Guzman looming as a quarterfinalist opponent. Could be a tossup in the opener, but Kendrick might be able to get it done. Either consi quarter, top or bottom, would provide a good chance to medal, so expect a podium finish in Kendrick’s future on Saturday.
Jedidiah Brown (Buchholz): Drew #4 Corret-jer in the opening round, with either #5 Taranto or Miami Beach’s Alejandro Rodriguez the consi round 1/quarters opponent. A third match is likely the best outcome, but it could bring district rival Hannant along with it with a medal on the line. But three matches would still be a good tournament.
Projected final: Anderson Heap (Osceola, 1st) v Sean-Michael Gonzalez (North Port, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Rey Ortiz (Harmony, 4th); Ryan Ullayk (Palm Beach Gardens, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Cavarius Liddie (Buchholz, 6th): By the rankings, Liddie is set up well to win twice and earn a medal, opening with Sickles in the first round and then taking on #9 Jaime Rodriguez (Columbus) or Ft Pierce’s unranked William McArdle in the quarters. If Liddie maintains the form he showed at regions, getting to the semis, at least, should be doable. Heap’s another story in that round, but at that point it’s which space on, and not whether on or off, the podium.
John Hald (Flagler Palm Coast, 5th): Hald starts off with Palmetto Ridge’s Jean Valoria in the first round, and that’s a must-win, as Ullayk (or possibly #10 Cameron Gallivan of Palmetto) is the quarterfinal opponent. Hald’s medal chances are pretty solid — so long as he holds serve and wins that first-rounder, because facing Ortiz in the blood round would be war.
Kellen Chapman (DeLand): Drew #2 Gonzalez in the opening round. Not a great matchup to start off with, and the consis do not promise a lot more, with either #7 Julian Montero (Doral Academy) or unranked Sam Marvel (Wellington). There might be something winnable there, but either Liddie or Rodriguez come down in the second round, and it will take some doing to get to the medal portion of the bracket.
Keon Barrientos (Oakleaf): Will face Heap in the first round, and then a second ranked wrestler in the consis, either Ortiz or #8 Joshua Aviles (South Dade). There’s some possibility on the consi side to advance, and Barrientos has had some tournament successes that could make it possible, but at least for this year, a third match would be a very good tournament.
Projected final: Aaron Lanster (Miami Beach, 3rd) v Elvis Solis (South Dade, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: James Marvel (Wellington, 4th); Russell Raabe (Ft Pierce Central, 5th).
Local analysis —
Jorge Gonzalez (Winter Park, 1st): Has the ranking to take it all, and has proven at least so far that he can win close matches against state-quality wrestlers, but he kept things pretty close to the vest from the quarters onward, scoring when needed without necessarily fully opening the throttle. He’s got that gear, though, and he’ll need it through at least the final three rounds to get to Saturday afternoon, which is still very possible.
Venumadhava Mirel (Buchholz, 8th): Mirel should be able to win his first-rounder with unranked Shawn McCallister of Harmony, but Solis would be the quarterfinal opponent. Mirel’s footing in the top consi quarter appears to be a little safer, so I expect him to be on the podium on Saturday. It’s possible there could be one more match between Mirel and McGee in the consi quarters.
Marcus McGee (Oakleaf, 9th): McGee drew Raabe in the opening round, and Raabe will be in the mix of kids that maybe can chase down Solis in the semifinals. But in order to medal this weekend, McGee will have to beat someone ranked above him eventually, whether it’s Raabe in round 1 or whoever comes down from the second quarterfinal into his consi.
Ryan Culbertson (Seminole): Will face Marvel in the opening round and could get Lanster or a 42-match winner (Steinbrenner’s #7 Reid Noble) in the first round of consis. A third match would be a good tournament for Culbertson, who still has another chance in 2022-23 after some good offseason work.
Projected final: Danny Martinez (Southwest Miami, 3rd) v Cooper Haase (Osceola, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Nikolas Hernandez (Riverview, 4th); John McNichols (Harmony, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Rocco Vargas (Apopka, 8th): Vargas will face former Bishop Kenny product Sebastian Deara (now at Ferguson) in the opening round; Deara is a former 1A state qualifier for the Crusaders (2020, at 126). Vargas has looked solid, though, and should advance, but Hernandez or #6 Jacob Fleitas (Ft Pierce Central) is another matter. Falling into the bottom consi quarter might be sufficient, though, to get through and make podium.
Abdelkrin Salomon (Seminole): Will face #10 Enrique Sanchez (Doral Academy) in the opening round, which if a ranked wrestler in round 1 is the requirement, the #10 is the best requirement. Salomon’s got chances there, or perhaps in the first consi round, but if I’m Salomon I want that opening-round win. The second consi quarter looks a little better to get through.
Josue Batista (Timber Creek): Faces #7 Misha Arbos (South Dade) in the opening round, with either a 42-match winner or (less likely) McNichols in the first round of consis. Again, there’s possibilities to maybe get a third match, which could see Vargas come down here for a rematch of their Region 1 quarterfinal. A third match would be a good tournament this year.
Keanan Sexton (Creekside): Will face Martinez in the opening round, which will be a difficult challenge. Most likely will slot into a consi-round 1 match with an unranked wrestler from Venice, which at least offers some possibilities. A third match would be a good tournament, but probably requires a win over a ranked wrestler.
Projected final: Aiden Moore (Buchholz, 2nd) v Brennan Van Hoecke (Palmetto Ridge, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Gavin Balmeceda (South Dade, 4th); Alex Soto (Riverdale, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Moore: It’s maybe actually better that there’s only one round of championship Thursday, because there’ll not be the downside of missing out on an opponent due to injury, which will be Moore’s situation this weekend, as his first-round bracketed match won’t compete. But Moore is going to get very, very solid tests as soon as Friday morning against Soto, with Balmeceda looming in the semi. Saturday afternoon’s all there for Moore.
Joey Parker (Winter Park, 9th): Has #6 Lester Martinez (Southwest Miami) in the opening round. While Parker’s not favored by the rankings, he’s been in the mix in central Florida for some while now and might be able to pull off the challenge. If not, he’ll have either Osceola’s Melvin Ewen or #10 Seth Rhodes (Wellington) in the next match. It’s all on Parker: he could be a semifinalist or he could be 0-2.
Preston Pena (Bartram Trail): Will face #7 Julian Rocha (Braddock) in the opening round, and that will be a tough matchup. Pena has shone down the stretch though, and that should at least get him a chance to wrestle for a medal, with the likely opponent #8 Reese Hibbard of Sarasota. Pena won’t be favored to advance, but has beaten the odds before.
Seth Galvin (Wekiva): Gets Balmeceda in the opening round, and South Dade will be on a mission for every team point it will get. The consi round 1 matchup, most likely with Olympic Heights, offers a better chance at advancement, but Galvin will have to beat a ranked wrestler, most likely, in order to medal.
Projected final: Adrian Ochoa (Southwest Miami, 3rd) v Carson Miller (Palmetto Ridge, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: JT Apicella (Ft Pierce Central, 4th); Alexander Couto (South Dade, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Blake Watts (Hagerty, 7th): Watts has a tough quarter, not necessarily so much in round 1 (though Harmony’s Maverick Hauser is solid, too), but Ochoa looms in the next round. The landing pad that would be the bottom quarter of the consis, however, looks more promising. I would expect Watts to make podium this weekend and perhaps have a chance to make the top six before it’s over.
Timothy King (Flagler Palm Coast, 10th): King will face unranked Giovanni Deangeles (Park Vista) in the first round, with Couto the likely quarterfinal opponent and possibly #9 Joseph Cuttitta (Palm Harbor University) in consi round 2. King might medal this weekend, but it’ll take some focus and an ability to put aside a loss quickly to make that happen.
Benjamin Buhring (Seminole): Will face #5 Lucas Moreno (Treasure Coast) in the first round, with either Miller or #8 Van Huffman (Columbus) in the first round of consis. Will need his best six minutes to put himself in position to wrestle for a medal against what would be a third ranked wrestler, but his performance at regions was a solid way to make the show for the first time.
Joel Dudley (Atlantic Coast): Proved he belonged in the show with a solid quarter with King and then rallying to the podium. His tournament begins with Apicella in round 1, and that might be the toughest 3A wrestler he’s faced all year. There might be possibilities in consi round 1, but another ranked opponent would be the case in round 2. Three matches would be a good finish.
Projected final: Roman Garcia (Palmetto Ridge, 1st) v Cordell White (South Dade, 2nd).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Danny Diaz (Southwest Miami, 4th); Gunner Holland (Osceola, 3rd).
Local analysis —
Kamdon Harrison (Hagerty, 5th): Says something about how strong the top four must be for Harrison to be fifth, as he dominated the region with four pins last weekend. But there are tests, with multiple-time state qualifier Erik Borresen (Manatee) in round 1, a possible ranked opponent in the quarters and then Garcia in the semi. Harrison will podium this weekend, but how high depends on that semi.
Ransom Randolph (Apopka, 6th): Is slotted against #8 Vincent Donatelle of North Port in the opening round. The winner, by the rankings, should be favored to reach the semis and guarantee a top-six medal, with #9 Antonio Falotico (to be sure, the Region 3 champ) the likely next opponent in the quarters. So the path to a guaranteed medal is there for Randolph, if he continues to stay on point as he was in the quarters and semis at regions last weekend.
Bryce Dodge (Flagler Palm Coast, 7th): Has a very tough matchup in Holland, last year’s state champion at 152, in the opening round. Dodge should be favored, however, to win each of his next two matches, with most likely unranked Colonial in round 1 and then (most likely) #10 Ronald Butler of Miami Palmetto in the blood round, which would get him on podium for the second time in back-to-back years.
Diego Rivera (Creekside): Will take on Garcia in the opening round, which is not the opposition he’d want. There’s appearing to be some possibilities in consi round 1 for Rivera, but he’ll most likely have to beat a ranked opponent in consi round 2 in order to medal this year. Three matches, though, is a solid tournament.
Projected final: Diogo Padlilha (Western, 3rd) v Dominic Rodriguez (Riverdale, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: George Duncan (Osceola, 6th); Riley Orr (Ft Pierce Central, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Ethan Gomez (Hagerty, 5th): Will start the tournament against Goleman’s Raudel Leon, which should be a winnable match, with likely a quarterfinal opponent against a familiar name in Duncan. Gomez is ranked to be able to move through to the semis, and if he can get through the first two rounds, don’t be surprised if he goes all the way to Saturday afternoon, as Gomez is much more battle-tested than the Region 4 champion.
Blane DeFord (Flagler Palm Coast, 8th): The two-time state placer will go up against 53-match winner Armando Cardona (Miami Palmetto) in the opening round, with a likely matchup against Rodriguez, a defending state champ, in the quarterfinals. Even the blood round isn’t a sure thing, as DeFord would face either #7 Leonard Feliciano (Palmetto Ridge) or #9 Jabore Brown (Treasure Coast) there. History suggests DeFord should medal, though.
John McNames (Bartram Trail): Must face #4 Jaiden Forbes (Miami Beach) in the opening round, which will be a difficult matchup. The consi isn’t tons better, with either #10 Mason Miller (Manatee) or Orr as possible opponents. So a win over a ranked opponent is going to be necessary, one way or the other, for McNames to make the podium this weekend.
Kurt Vollenweider (Windermere): Will face Padlilha in the opening round. Western’s not a wrestling powerhouse, but he did win the Region 4 title for a reason, in what is usually the strongest region in 3A, so Padlilha is pretty quality. Vollenweider will have to beat a ranked wrestler in order to get a chance to wrestle for a medal, as the consi-round opponent would be Feliciano or Brown.
Projected final: Dominic Joyce (North Port, 1st) v Peyton Turner (Newsome, 4th).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Ranson Coons (Lakewood Ranch, 3rd); Franklyn Fernandez (Southwest Miami, 5th).
Local analysis —
Tony Carter (Mandarin, 2nd): There often aren’t many 2-3 first-round matches, but Carter’s got one with Coons. Win, and he should make the semis and medal for the second time. Lose and most likely get on the podium as well, but the path to the medal gets a bit harder, with three solid kids looming as potential consi round-2 opponents. A match with Joyce in the semis would really show us all of Carter’s tools, though.
Kason Nichols (Buchholz, 7th): Nichols will kick off the first round with Turner in the opening round; a win there would mean most likely Fernandez in the quarters. Front-side momentum would be best through both rounds, with the guaranteed podium for all semifinalists, but the consi quarter at the bottom looks like it would have more room to move, based on the bracket, because a quarterfinal loss would mean either Carter or Coons in the blood round.
Marcelo Gonzalez (Flagler Palm Coast, 8th): Gonzalez begins the tournament with #10 Aiden Vega (Palmetto Ridge) on Thursday, and might be looking at another nearby-ranked wrestler (Wellington’s #9 Juan Quintero) in the quarters. Gonzalez is ranked to reach the semis and should make the podium as long as he wins in the opening round, as his consi quarter is a little tougher than the second one, where he’d go in the event of a quarterfinal loss.
Gavin Rodriguez-Cayro (DeLand): Will face #1 Joyce in the opening round, which is not a good way to start off things. Rodriguez-Cayro should have a winnable match in the first-round of consis, but will have to beat a ranked wrestler, most likely, in the blood round. That wrestler could be Gonzalez, or Quintero, or Vega. But Rodriguez-Cayro should get to wrestle for his fate on Friday.
Projected final: Chris Greil (Palm Harbor University, 3rd) v Ansel Cervantes (South Dade, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Jordan Adrien (Treasure Coast, 6th) v Keyshawn Campbell (Vero Beach, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Garrick Schwartz (Flagler Palm Coast, 7th): Winning the Region 1 title will do no one favors this weekend, aside from facing the Region 3 4th-placer in round 1. Schwartz could get Adrien in the quarters, which may be toss-uppy in nature. A win assures top-six, a loss means going into the bottom consi quarter against potentially a wrestler that forced double overtime at regions last weekend. But Schwartz is favored to podium.
Hunter Tate (Hagerty, 8th): Tate gave Schwartz his best match at regions last week; in taking third, Tate’s reward was #4 Cole Tolley (Sickles) in the opening round. Tolley is a tough customer and Tate can keep close, ideally, but his path is through the consis, where there’s a winnable match in round 1 and a potential rematch with Schwartz in the blood round.
Jamari Chisolm (Buchholz): Made a run to the region final, Chisolm will take on #5 Nathan Peoples (George Jenkins) in the opening round. That’s going to be an uphill battle, but Chisolm has defied the odds before. There’s potential for a winnable round-1 consi match, and most likely Chisolm would face the #9 in round 2. That’s not an impossible task, for Chisolm to earn a medal.
Duffy Mista (Sandalwood): Will open Thursday with #3 Greil in the opening round, which is a tough battle, and will either be facing the #9 or a 44-match winner in the first round of consis. It’s not a great draw, and getting a third match might be a tall order indeed, but the experience alone should be invaluable for 2022-23.
Projected final: Ralph Sanchez (Apopka, 2nd) v Sawyer Bartelt (South Dade, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Nelson Toro (Harmony, 3rd); Skyler Keesee (Alonso, 5th).
Local analysis —
Sanchez: Will be the consistent pick to emerge out of the top half to face Bartelt on Saturday afternoon, but he’ll have tests, with (most likely) #4 Jonathan Fraga of Southwest Miami in the quarters and then #3 Toro as the most likely semifinalist. Very few upperweights have worked as hard and seen as much offseason competition to prepare for weekends like this as Sanchez has, however.
Marion Smokes (DeLand, 9th): Smokes has had a very impressive season, and he should continue solid momentum with a round-1 win, although Bartelt is the likely opponent in the quarters. If Smokes can rally in consi round 2, most likely against #7 Jomar Sanchez of Osceola, he has a chance to get on the podium on Saturday, but he’ll need the consistent attacks that have been a staple all season.
Liam Glassmeyer (Winter Park, 10th): Glassmeyer has a winnable first-round match and then would be taking on Keesee in the quarters, but he has already proven himself against some very solid competition. The semis are not outside the realm of possibility for Glassmeyer, who should become the top 220 in the region over the next two years.
Vincent Approbato (Creekside): Will begin competition against Toro in the first round, which is not a great first-rounder as far as that goes, but there is a winnable consi-side match in round 1. Approbato might get a rematch with Glassmeyer in round 2, with the winner making the podium, so there might be film study for both wrestlers this week.
Projected final: Adrian Sans (Southwest Miami, 3rd) v Gabriel Jacas (Ft Pierce Central, 1st).
Top contenders from elsewhere: Derrick Hart (Columbus, 6th); Austin Foye (Palmetto Ridge, 2nd).
Local analysis —
Holley Saintmelus (Wekiva, 9th): The only ranked wrestler from Region 1, Saintmelus rolled through the region without incident, with the reward a round-1 matchup with #6 Hart. Saintmelus could get a familiar face from central Florida in either the quarters or consi, but the match with Hart might tell the tale. If he goes into the consis, that’s OK for one round, but another ranked wrestler will be showing up there. Medaling will be a good tournament.
Peter Nesheiwat (Timber Creek): Has been ranked during the course of the year, but is unrated this week and will face #4 Gozie Mosi (Cypress Bay), a 60-match winner, in round 1. Another ranked wrestler (either Foye or #10 Ryan Preisendorf of Jupiter) awaits in either the quarter or consis. A third match might be possible, and would be a good tournament indeed.
Jordan Mitchell (Oakleaf): Will face #5 Julius Weaver (Dr Krop) in the first round, in another weight class where the Regions 1 meet the 4s. Mitchell will most likely have to defeat a ranked opponent in order to win a medal; if not Weaver, then perhaps #8 Roshaun Dudley (Freedom) in consi round 2. Three matches would be a solid weekend.
Cane Fernandez (Forest): Will start with Sans in the first round; there may be a possibility in consi round 1, but like at least two of the other Region 1 wrestlers, a tournament with three matches would be a very good tournament, at least this year, for Fernandez. A win over a ranked wrestler will be a must for all three of them.
Brackets for the state tournament can be found HERE.