By MATMEN, Thursday, 8 p.m.
1A-Region 1 Final
When & where: Friday at 11 a.m. (weighin 10 a.m.), Osceola HS.
Teams: #8 Suwannee (34-3) v #11 Episcopal (22-5).
Prior duals events (regular-season): Suwannee was 1st at Manatee’s Kelly Duals, 1st at Yulee Duals, 2nd at Beast of the Beach (to Alabama team), 2nd at Billy Saylor Invitational. Episcopal was 5-0 at North Florida Duals, placed 3rd at Fernandina Beach’s Dual in the Dunes, and was 2nd at the St Johns Super 8.
Path to Friday: Suwannee was 4-0 to win the 1A-District 2 title, its first, at home at January 5, and advanced to the region final with wins at home over Bay and Wakulla in the quarters and semifinals, respectively. Episcopal won the 1A-District 3 title, its first, at Fernandina Beach on January 4, advancing to the region final with wins over Baker County and Yulee in the quarters and semifinals staged at Union County.
At stake: The winner will become a first-time region champ and will advance to the state semifinals against either defending champion and top-ranked Jensen Beach or third-ranked Mater Lakes Academy. Saturday weighin is at 9 a.m., wrestling starts at 10 a.m. Finals are scheduled for 2 p.m.
Synopsis: Both teams are first-time dual state qualifiers, so the team that will hold its nerve in the hubbub of wrestling in a larger environment, with real stakes on the line, will have an intangible advantage. The lower- and middle-weights do favor the Bulldogs; Episcopal has a chance to make up some ground or, depending on weight class start, build early momentum up top, so a favorable starting weight could be helpful to the Eagles.
Projection: While I am loathe to offer up a specific number vs number, I did a mock dual of the weights, and I would project Suwannee to advance to the semis and with a double-digit lead; a 30-point win would not surprise me, and an Episcopal group that scraps and keeps it close against a more-experienced Bulldog team, also, would not surprise me.
State-ranked wrestlers (listed by weight class in ranked order) —
106: Eli Jolicoeur (Suwannee, 2nd).
113: Justin Contreras (Suwannee, 9th).
120: Topher Pearson (Suwannee, 2nd); Turner Glenn (Episcopal, 11th).
126: Brody Boehm (Suwannee, 5th); Scott Busey (Episcopal, 17th).
132: Nicholas Pressley (Episcopal, 13th).
138: Cohen Chesser (Episcopal, 13th); Ayden Kirby (Suwannee, 19th).
145: Marshall White (Suwannee, 12th).
152: Austin McKinney (Episcopal, 7th); Chance Wolffe (Episcopal, 14th).
160: Austin Howard (Suwannee, 3rd); John Fernandez (Episcopal, 14th).
170: Dustin Wood (Suwannee, 10th); Brennan Doherty (Episcopal, 11th).
182: Christian McGarity (Episcopal, 12th); Benjamin Lewis (Suwannee, 19th).
All rankings from https://www.kabrawrestling.com/rankings/class-1a