By MATMEN, Saturday, 11:05 p.m.
PALM COAST — Looking strictly at the numbers, Matanzas has a lot to be happy with after doubling up its nearest competitor and defending the FHSAA girls’ Region 1 IBT title Saturday afternoon at home.
After all, the Lady Pirates advanced 10 wrestlers to states, set for March 2-4 at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, with two champs, three runnersup, four 3rds and one 4th — in a tournament where no other team had more than four state qualifiers.
But wrestling teams will focus just as much on what could have been as on what was done, and for the considerable amount of hardware Matanzas went home with, the Pirates would concede that points, and finishes, and maybe a qualification or two, were left on the table.
Still, though, their performance was enough to precisely double up Middleburg, 201-100.5. The Lady Broncos were one of four teams to advance four wrestlers to state, with one champion, one runnerup and two 3rds.
Ponte Vedra edged Bartram Trail, 96-93, for third, with the Lady Sharks taking two titles and qualifying two more with 4ths. As for the Lady Bears, Bartram had three qualifiers, with two champs and one third. Lake Brantley, with four 4th-place finishers, rounded out the top-five with 81 points.
Among teams with multiple state qualifiers, Mainland was 6th, with 74 points and four qualifiers (two runners-up, two 4ths), Crestview (one runnerup & one 3rd) 7th with 60 points, Lincoln (one 3rd & one 4th) was 8th with 59 points, Gulf Breeze (one champ & one runnerup) 9th with 56 points, while Chiles (two champs) and Oakleaf (one champ, one runnerup) were T-10th at 49.
Teams with single qualifiers who won titles were Milton (T-12th, 44 points), Clay (19th, 28) and Lake Mary (T-20th, 27). Among teams with a runnerup as their single qualifier, Ed White was 22nd (26 points), Seminole T-23rd (25), Sandalwood & Tate both T-26th (22) and Ridgeview 30th (20).
For teams with one qualifier who placed 3rd, Hagerty was T-12th with 44 points, Westside T-14th (33 points), Tocoi Creek T-16th (32 points) and Flagler Palm Coast 18th (30 points); among teams with one 4th-place qualifier, University (Orange City) was T-14th with 33 points, Baker County T-23rd (25), with Buchholz & Riverside T-28th (21).
The highest-finishing team without an individual qualifier was North Bay Haven, finishing T-16th along with Tocoi Creek.
A brief summary of each weight class follows.
Final: Camdyn Elliott (Gulf Breeze, 8th) d. Gracie Bradshaw (Middleburg, 4th, 9-7).
3rd: Sayuri Caceres (Lincoln, 10th) p. Talia Robbins (Buchholz, 15th), :16.
Finalists’ path: Elliott had a bye into the quarters, with pins over Robbins (2:23) there and then over North Bay Haven’s Hayden Hauck (:46) in the semis. Bradshaw also had a bye into the quarters, with a pin there over Caceres (3:29) and tech fall over DeLand’s Yosselyn Flores (17-1 in 4:38).
Punching tickets: After the loss to Bradshaw, Caceres tore through the consis, with four pins over Stanton, Niceville and Hauck as well as Robbins, who had to survive a 14-12 win over Tocoi Creek before pins over Lake Brantley and Flores.
Who else impressed us: Hauck was fourth at districts and is only a seventh-grader; to reach the blood round is a pretty solid tournament. Elliott’s father told me to watch her over the next few years.
How were our picks?: We were 4-for-4 on qualifiers, with the right finalists and right 3rd/4th competitors. Candor forces me to admit I would have chosen Bradshaw. Our two dark horses both reached the blood round.
Final: Adrianna Barrientos (Oakleaf, 2nd) md. Helena Alcantar (Gulf Breeze, 6th), 14-0.
3rd: Skyla Fisher (Middleburg, 10th) p. Jaelyn Sunseri (University-OC, 15th), 3:01.
Finalists’ path: Barrientos racked up three pins in 3:48, with falls over Lake Mary (:24), Flagler Palm Coast (1:46) and Sunseri (1:38) to get to Alcantar, who had three pins of her own over Tocoi Creek (1:05), Lake Brantley (2:52) and Fisher (2:34).
Punching tickets: Fisher had two max-point wins on the front, but had a wild match in the blood round against FPC’s Joslyn Johnson, taking a 17-10 win. Sunseri collected her third pin of the day in the blood round, falling Milton’s Alexis Brown.
Who else impressed us: We said Johnson was under the radar; after losing to Barrientos in the quarters, she pinned Lincoln and Bartram Trail to get to the blood round, and it was only after falling behind 7-0 to Fisher that the match essentially drew even after that.
How were our picks?: We picked both finalists correctly (and would have selected Barrientos, but did not expect a near-tech) and also had a third qualifier, Fisher medal. Sunseri put a dent in our top 4 picks, but we had her as a dark horse; our other dark horse did not compete.
Final: Mariah Mills (Matanzas, 3rd) d. Sigrun Metzger (Crestview, 4th), 5-2.
3rd: Memphis Moses (Middleburg, 14th) d. Makayla Johnson (Baker County, 11th), 13-7.
Finalists’ path: Mills didn’t go past the first minute in racking up three falls in 2:07, pinning Hagerty (:27), Choctaw (:55) and Florida High’s Olivia Gibson (:45) to get to Metzger, who only needed 3:38 for pins over Pace (:40), Moses (1 minute) and Johnson (1:58).
Punching tickets: Moses had four pins in 2:34 (on both front and back) to reach the medal round, with a 42-second pin over Gibson in the blood round, while Johnson had two front-side pins and then a fall in the blood round (1:56) over Choctaw’s Mary McKinney.
Who else impressed us: Gibson’s only a sixth-grader, but knocked off a district champ and a multi-year starter en route to the semis. She was an additional qualifier We’ll hear a lot more from her in coming seasons.
How were our picks?: As was the case at 100, we were 4-for-4 on qualifiers, with both finalists right and both 3rd/4ths right (We also expected this to be one of the closest finals, and it was). McKinney was our bottom-half dark horse, while our top-half dark horse did not compete (more on her tomorrow).
Final: Erin Rizzuto (Ponte Vedra, 2nd) p. Zakiya Williams (Ed White), 1:25.
3rd: Freydis Metzger (Crestview) p. Lilah Nation (Lake Brantley, 14th), :09.
Finalists’ path: Rizzuto never was pushed past the first period, with four pins in 3:21, falling Mosley (:45), Mainland (:33) and Metzger (:38) to get to the final. Williams also had three pins, with falls over University (Orange City) (:34), Middleburg (3:16) and Nation (1:05).
Punching tickets: After two front-side pins, Metzger had to battle back through the consis, with pins over district rival Lily Powell of Gulf Breeze (1:54) as well as Nation. Nation had to go deep into the third period before falling Lincoln’s Amelia McKnight in 5:42.
Who else impressed us: Hmmmm…gotta start with Williams, though, who didn’t find her way into our preview — at all. She won’t be overlooked in two weeks. But McKnight also rates a mention, here, too, after losing in round 1 and battling all the way back to the blood round. She’ll be in The Show eventually.
How were our picks?: We had two qualifiers in the right spots, but only two. Two other medal picks both lost in the blood round. Nation qualified out as one of our dark horses; our other dark horse lost to our under-the-radar pick, Matanzas’ Autumn Jarvis, who reached the final eight, as did our “deep run” pick, Middleburg’s Sarah Walsh. So we were … kinda? … close.
Final: Christina Borgmann (Matanzas, 3rd) ID over Lahela Turnquest (Tate, 7th).
3rd: Kiersten Flanagan (Winter Springs, 17th) p. Natalia Choquegonza (Ponte Vedra, 8th), :49.
Finalists’ path: Borgmann max-pointed through the tournament, with preliminary pins over Raines (:34), Deland’s Grace Lashinsky (3:13) and over Bartram Trail’s Vanessa Stobe (:25), while Turnquest had falls over Lake Mary (:18), Beachside (:27) and over Flanagan (3:03).
Punching tickets: Flanagan (pin & 8-6 win over Choquegonza on front) secured her space with a fall (5:20) over Lashinsky, while Choquegonza had three pins in the consis, falling University (Orange City) (1:30), Lincoln (1:37) and Stobe (2:29).
Who else impressed us: What impressed us here were the surprises, both the large ones (bracket favorite Kailani Barrientos of Oakleaf not competing) and small ones (Turnquest with a recent name change in the last few days).
How were our picks?: We can never predict someone not competing, so that is always tough to overcome; we had three qualifiers, but our 3rd place match was the actual final. We had Flanagan as a dark horse qualify out, and Lashinsky reached the blood round in that same capacity.
Final: Ashley Shaw (Chiles, 17th) d. Brianna Pena (Seminole, 10th), 7-5.
3rd: Tiana Fries (Matanzas, 2nd) p. Donavanne Reinhardt (Ponte Vedra), 1:18.
Finalists’ path: Shaw bonus-pointed her way into the final, with two pins over Lake Brantley (1:35) and Hagerty (2:58), plus a 13-2 major over district rival Alexea Lawson of Choctaw in the semi, while Pena had pins over Wewahitchka (1:44) and Bartram Trail (:50), with a 4-3 win over North Bay Haven’s Katherine Lundgren in the semi.
Punching tickets: After a loss by fall to Lawson in the quarters following a bye, Fries had to march through the consis, with pins over Seabreeze (1:25), Hagerty (3:55) and Lundgren (3:05), while Reinhard had a forfeit and then lost by fall in 23 seconds to Lundgren on the front; in the consis, she took pins over Deltona (1:01) and Lake Brantley (1:02), with a 9-2 win over Lawson in the blood round.
Who else impressed us: Reinhardt was our under-the-radar pick; under the radar no more, but the biggest impression went to Lawson, a multi-year starter and fixture in the Choctaw boys’ lineup for four seasons; pinning Fries was no easy task.
How were our picks?: Well, we had three correct qualifiers, but just one finalist right (and we would have picked her, Pena, for 2nd, if pressed). Both of our dark horses were 1-2, but our “deep run” choice, Lake Brantley’s Ella Belt, would have been a second-day qualifier in a two-day format.
Final: Aireaana Gavere (Milton, 8th) md. Brielle Bibla (Matanzas, 1st), 12-4.
3rd: Ana Vilar (Flagler Palm Coast, 4th) p. Devon Baumgardner (Lake Brantley), 1:59.
Finalists’ path: Gavere was the rare champ who beat all of her fellow state qualifiers, with falls over Baumgardner (:37), Vilar (3:24) and Ponte Vedra’s Sofia Saldana (:33) to get to Bibla, who had a 19-second pin over Lake Mary before winning by forfeit in the quarters. Bibla then trailed halfway through the semi against University (Orange City)’s Bryanne Kaminsky before rallying for an 8-7 decision.
Punching tickets: Vilar had four pins (1 front, 3 consi), with falls on the back over Crestview (:37) and North Bay Haven (:55) before downing Kaminsky, 4-1, in the blood round. Baumgardner had to win four off the back side to earn her state space, with pins over Winter Springs (2:51) and Saldana (5:15) in the blood round, plus wins over Wewahitchka (4-2) and Mosley (14-8).
Who else impressed us: We did NOT expect Gavere to hand Bibla the first loss of her season in the final; Gavere had three takedowns and a reversal, also forcing four stall calls on Bibla as well. But…biggest hats off to Baumgardner, who was 5th at districts and was added in as an additional qualifier, only to get out.
How were our picks?: We got three qualifiers right; our fourth did not compete. Kaminsky made the blood round as a dark horse choice, but our top half dark horse was 0-2 and, of course, Baumgardner was not on our radar.
Final: Aubrianna Apple (Clay, 2nd) p. Sara Goodman (Sandalwood, 10th), 1:44.
3rd: Saiomy Cabrera (Matanzas, 20th) p. Holly Sanders (Lincoln, 11th), 1:50.
Finalists’ path: Apple pinned her way through the day, with falls over Florida High (1:22), Baker County (3:55) and Sanders (3:43) before her meeting with Goodman, who took pins over Hagerty (:37), Middleburg’s Heidi Castleberry (2:19) and Cabrera (5:30).
Punching tickets: After two front-side wins, Cabrera needed a blood-round fall (2:31) over Crestview’s Laila Archer, while Sanders had two pins on the front, followed by a 12-4 major over Castleberry in the consi semis.
Who else impressed us: Archer was our under-the-radar pick; after losing by fall in round 1 to Castleberry, she stormed back through the consis behind three pins to give herself a chance for state; with the Metzger sisters around to push her, she should be in The Show next year.
How were our picks?: We had three of four qualifiers; our fourth pick, Castleberry, reached the blood round after a quarterfinal loss. Goodman was our bottom-half dark horse pick, so they weren’t bad picks, in all.
Final: Olivia Richie (Ponte Vedra, 3rd) p. Gabby Proctor (Matanzas, 13th), :44.
3rd: Shyann Tate (Hagerty, 5th) p. Jasmine Gore (Riverside, 19th), 1:15.
Finalists’ path: Richie max-pointed through the day, with a forfeit in round 1 and pins over Seminole (:51) and Milton’s Kiiaana Gavere (2:45) to get to her district rival, Proctor, who’d had a round-1 pin over Ed White (1:19) and wins over Tate (6-2) and Niceville’s Alexis Krumnow (13-3).
Punching tickets: Tate had four max-point wins in a 5-1 day, including a forfeit, a 6-1 win over Columbia and fall (3:13) over Gavere in the blood round, while Gore overcame a quarterfinal loss to Gavere with pins in the consis over Crestview (:25), Seminole (1:22) and Krumnow (:28) to secure her Kissimmee space.
Who else impressed us: Both dark horses qualifying out was impressive; we’d seen good results for Gore, but many of her wins were in low-stakes situations, so her run to states was particularly good. After 15 losses coming in, Proctor had had struggles in Matanzas’ schedule, so to put it together today was a good sign for her.
How were our picks?: We had two qualifiers right, but only one finalist correct, but our dark horses both qualified out and our deep run/under-the-radar choices, Columbia’s Carlee Morrison and Seminole’s Hailey Meadows, both would have been Saturday qualifiers in a two-day format.
Final: Katherine Stewart (Bartram Trail, 1st) p. Kendall Bibla (3rd), 5:00.
3rd: Aryan Benson (Tocoi Creek, 4th) fft over Lanyla Hudspeth (Lake Brantley, 14th).
Finalists’ path: Stewart pinned her way through the day, with preliminary pins over Ed White (:57), Hagerty’s Megan Dathe (1:21) and Westside’s Degriece Coleman (2:19) before falling Bibla, who had pins over Riverside (1:28), Hudspeth (3:09) and Benson (5:07).
Punching tickets: Benson (2 front-side pins) secured her state spot with a blood-round fall over Dathe (3:04), while Hudspeth had three consi-side wins, a forfeit and pins over Ed White (1:22) and Coleman (5:58).
Who else impressed us: She qualified out and was a dark horse pick, but Hudspeth survived Bibla’s initial flurry and held her nerve in that quarter, then came back in the consis twice.
How were our picks?: This bracket hargely held form, but we had only three qualifier choices right (did have the final correct), as our fourth choice did not compete. Hudspeth took over that space, while our other dark horse pick, Coleman, got to the blood round.
Final: Ava Burre (Bartram Trail, 8th) p. Jah’Mya Hill (Mainland, 7th), :57.
3rd: Karla Ortiz (Westside, 4th) p. Isabella Tietje (Matanzas), 4:53.
Finalists’ path: Burre had to fight for her title after an early 14-second pin over University (Orange City), while she had pins over Bishop Kenny (5:33) and West Port’s Jayden Dodge (3:28) to reach the final, neither of those falls were easy. Hill had three pins, with falls over Nease (:32), Ortiz (3:04) and Tietje (5:24).
Punching tickets: Ortiz max-pointed back through the consis for third, with a medical forfeit and pins over Lincoln (1:30) and Dodge (:19) before falling Tietje, who took a 10-4 win over a fellow 2022 state qualifier, Oviedo’s Jana El’harake, in the blood round.
Who else impressed us: We were not sure about Hill, who’s had quite a few ups-and-downs this year, but despite being tabbed as only a dark-horse choice, Saturday was definitely a day where everything clicked for her, with pins over two state medalists en route to the final.
How were our picks?: We had three qualifiers right, but only Tietje — who was surprisingly unranked despite a 2022 state medal — was slotted correctly. Our other dark-horse choice did not compete. We were right that El’harake would make a deep run.
Final: Cadee Lyons (Chiles, 2nd) p. Jayla Harrison (Oakleaf, 3rd), 3:26.
3rd: Brooklyn Watt (Matanzas, 15th) p. Eva Rojas (Mainland), 1:07.
Finalists’ path: Lyons had a bye into the quarters, where she won by fall over Oviedo (1:21), then shut out Baker County’s Deanna Walker, 4-0, in the semi to get to Harrison, who had first-period falls over Lake Brantley (:55), Watt (1:35) and Rojas (:44).
Punching tickets: Watt won four times in the consis to secure her space, with pins over Lake Mary (1:35), Nease (:16), with a 3-1 blood-round win over Walker. Rojas, who had a 25-second pin on the front, got out with a pin in the consi semis (2:31) over Bartram Trail’s Paige Stewart.
Who else impressed us: While we said Matanzas might have left some points out there at the start, one place where, I feel at least, they picked up some points was with Watt’s performance in roaring back for third.
How were our picks?: We had three qualifiers picked correctly, with the correct final matchup; our fourth choice was Stewart, who reached the blood round. Walker was a dark horse choice and made the blood round, while Watt was a dark horse choice as well.
Final: Cheyenne Cruce (Middleburg, 1st) p. Lillian Heflin (Ridgeview), :29.
3rd: Hannah Matalobos (Bartram Trail) p. Katherine Meza-Perez (Mainland, 9th), 3:01.
Finalists’ path: After a bye into the quarters, Cruce pinned her way through, with falls over Meza-Perez (4:43) and Matalobos (:59), while Heflin introduced herself to the region with pins over Lake Brantley (4:26) and Hagerty’s Jenna Childers (2:26) after a bye into the quarters.
Punching tickets: Matalobos had a front-side pin in the quarters, adding two more wins in the consis, with a 9-7 blood-round win over Buchholz’s Kiona Upegui before the medal round, while Meza-Perez had two forfeit wins and two pins, falling Seabreeze (:24) and Childers (1:08) to qualify out.
Who else impressed us: Heflin. OBVIOUSLY. I knew of one Ridgeview girl heading into the post-season (it was not her). But she has EXCELLENT coaching in her corner. I have to also shout out Matalobos as well. She had had a rough season after qualifying out last year, but I had faith she would find her way. And she did, losing only to the champ.
How were our picks?: Surprisingly, I only had two qualifier picks correct, as the other two both lost in the blood round. I also didn’t have correct dark horse picks in either case; my deep run/under the radar choices were Matalobos and Heflin. So I suspected? Maybe?
Final: Ahmya Stokes (Lake Mary, 19th) p. Cheyenne Wigley (Mainland, 4th), 1:02.
3rd: Ani Brown (Matanzas, 14th) d. Alaysia Linton (Lake Brantley), 3-1, SV.
Finalists’ path: There weren’t many matches, with just five in the bracket. Stokes had a semifinal pin over Linton (1:48) for her first match prior to final, while Wigley falled Westside’s Trayce Goodman in :30.
Punching tickets: Brown had lost by fall to Linton in the only quarterfinal of the bracket, rallying for a 9-0 major over Goodman before getting the revenge win for third.
Who else impressed us: Linton had a subpar record and was facing a ranked opponent in the quarters, so for her to not only hold her nerve but take the fall over that opponent was impressive.
How were our picks?: We had three qualifiers right, including the final. We do have to concede we would have gone the other way in picking a finals winner.
Be sure to check out the Matmen photo galleries of the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on our Facebook page; we do plan to post to Instagram as soon as possible, perhaps overnight tonight.
Results for this tournament and the other fully-reported regions can be found HERE.