November 17, 2022 — 6 a.m.
University (Orange City) has had a leg up on the rest of the teams in this year’s District 4.
Certainly last year the Lady Titans did, with a 36-point gap ahead of Lake Brantley and 39 ahead of third-place Lake Mary.
And, with just one May graduate moving on, University appears to be the preseason pick to click again this year.
Of the Lady Titans’ seven projected key returners this year, six competed in the post-season IBT series, led by junior state medalist Bryanne Kaminsky (7th at 130 last year).
But UOC should have company from a somewhat-familiar rival, but not one it had to fight with at districts, as Mainland competed in District 3 a year ago, where the Lady Buccaneers finished only behind Matanzas and Ponte Vedra, both of whom went on to take top-3 team finishes at state.
As for Mainland, it lost just one state qualifier from last year’s T-16th squad (T-7th at Region 1), and will bring back as many as six projected key qualifiers, led by 2022 state medalists in senior Jah’Mya Hill (4th at 155) and junior Cheyenne Wigley (7th at 235).
If the Lady Buccaneers can continue to recruit well, particularly in the lower weights, it should be a very good fight for the top of the district race.
Of last year’s two challengers, I’m looking for Lake Mary to grab the third spot this year, if for no other reason that the Lady Rams have the biggest returning room back this season.
Lake Mary has eight projected key returners back this year, led by sophomore state qualifier Jocelyn Higgins (115 in March). The Lady Rams, however, only have one win at last year’s region tournament besides Higgins, so there is room for growth there.
Lake Brantley does seem to be off to a solid start with a big group of girls led by a cadre of six projected key returners, although none went to state in March (two of those returners did have a trip to the region blood round).
The Lady Patriots did start to close fast last year, grabbing second, and if they can maintain that momentum, they’ll be a handful to contend with.
Wild-card teams in the district, for potential top-3 team finishes, could be found in Oviedo and Seminole.
The Lady Lions had no graduation losses to contend with, and bring back five projected key returners, paced by senior state qualifier Jana El’harake (135 last year). Oviedo, like Lake Brantley, appears to be a team that is connecting positively in getting good numbers out.
At Seminole, the Lady Noles also have a returning FHSAA state qualifier in senior Brianna Pena (120 last year), who was fifth at girls’ state in 2021 and was a match short of the state podium in March. Seminole has three additional projected key returners back.
Hagerty will have to start over a little bit after a district 4th and top-eight finish at regions, losing perhaps the district’s best wrestler last year, Jada Llamido (3rd at state at 140), to graduation. The Huskies do have two projected returners back, including state qualifier Megan Dathe (145 in March).
Lyman, Seabreeze and West Port each have one projected key returner, with the Lady Wolfpack’s Jayden Dodge (7th at 155 in March) the lone state qualifier among the trio.
Deltona, Forest and Lake Howell all have to rebuild their programs this season. Graduation took the Lady Wolves’ Dianna Pineda (4th at 105) and Lady Wildcats’ lone competitor in 2021-22, while graduation and transfer took the Lady Silver Hawks’ two wrestlers from last year.
For the two out-of-coverage area teams in the district, Dunnellon has potentially two returning post-season starters back, while Winter Springs has one via transfer after losing a state qualifier to graduation.
We aren’t projecting picks for the girls’ side yet, as very few programs have full teams. But, you can guess that the fuller teams are being seen as favorites in each district.
Capsules for all teams in District 4, where there are returning or graduated wrestlers that competed in the post-season, can be found HERE: GIRLS DISTRICT 4 CAPSULES