#Recap: 1A-Region 1, Day 2: Suwannee Wins Title


Suwannee wrestlers and coaches gather for a team photo at the conclusion of wrestling in the 1A-Region 1 IBT Saturday evening at Wewahitchka (Photo submitted by Kimberly Howard via Facebook).

By MATMEN, Saturday, 11:30 p.m.

WEWAHITCHKA — We thought this weekend’s 1A-Region 1 IBT would have a decidedly District 2 flavor to it.

And that might have been our most correct prediction of the weekend, as District 2 teams went 1-2-3 on Saturday in the second day of competition at Wewahitchka HS.

As they have all season, Suwannee led the way, finishing the tournament with 203.5 points to win the team title, giving the Bulldogs the “double region” championship, with an IBT version along with the duals version won last month. Suwannee led the field with nine state qualifiers for Thursday’s 1A state event at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, with two champs, three runners-up, three 3rds and one 4th.

Last week, Florida High was second and Wakulla third at districts; this weekend, the order was flipped, with the War Eagles outpointing the Seminoles, 168-140, for second place.

Wakulla advanced eight to states, with one champion, four runners-up, two 3rds and one 4th, while Florida High will take six (one champ, two 3rds and three 4ths).

District 3 teams controlled the next three spots, as Yulee was fourth with 123 points, Fernandina Beach fifth at 113 and Bishop Kenny sixth with 82.5. The Hornets had more region champs than any other team in the field (three), with one runnerup and one fourth, while the Pirates moved four wrestlers through (two champs, one runnerup and one 4th) and the Crusaders also moved four through (one runnerup, one 3rd and two 4ths).

Bay was seventh as District 1’s top team, with 69 points on one champ and one 4th qualifying out, while Union County, with 66 points, was eighth and first among teams with one qualifier (one 3rd). South Walton, with 61.5 points on three qualifiers (two runners-up and one 4th), was ninth, while Episcopal completed the top 10 with 61 points and two qualifers (one runnerup and one 4th).

North Bay Haven, with one champion, was 11th on 56.5 points, while Liberty County (one champ & one 4th) was 12th with 51 points. Palatka, with one champ and one 3rd, was 13th with 49.5 points, while host Wewahitchka (one runnerup and one 3rd) was 14th at 48. Rutherford, with one 3rd and one 4th, was 15th on 46 points, while West Nassau was 16th, with one champ and one 3rd for 43 points. Raines, with one 3rd, finished 18th for 36 points.

The top team that did not have any state qualifiers was Tocoi Creek, which was in 17th place with 42 points.

Below follows a summary of each weight class.

Final: Jasper Croom (Florida High, 1st; all rankings as of Saturday night update from d. Connor Brown (Wakulla, 6th), 10-7.
3rd: Eli Jolicoeur (Suwannee, 7th) d. Nathan Lyttle (South Walton), 7-0.
Finalists’ path: Croom had three bonus-point wins, with techs over Keystone Heights in round 1 and Wolfson in the semis, plus a quarterfinal pin over Rutherford. Brown took Friday pins over Episcopal and Tocoi Creek, shutting out Jolicoeur, 1-0, in the semi.
Punching tickets: Jolicoeur (pin & decision on front), bounced back with a 14-1 consi-semi win, while Lyttle, who lost by a 7-0 score to Jolicoeur on Friday, won 3x by pin in the consis.
Who else impressed us: Our under-the-radar pick, Rocky Bayou’s Thomas Pluhar, reached the blood round with three wins on the weekend, avenging a loss by pin in the District 1 semis along the way.
How were our picks?: Pretty good, 4-for-4 on qualifiers out, we only had a switch in the semis today, with Brown getting the win ahead of my projection. Our deep-run pick did in fact make a deep run, but our dark horses were a little bit of a mixed bag.

Final: Derrick Williams (Bay, 1st) d. Justin Contreras (Suwannee, 5th), 9-2.
3rd: Anthony Fondo (Wakulla) p. Dewan Richardson (Florida High), 3:36.
Finalists’ path: Williams had three first-period pins over Wolfson, Richardson and Fondo en route to the final, defeating all of his fellow state qualifiers. Contreras won by fall over Tocoi Creek and Rocky Bayou Christian on Friday, but had to go double-OT to turn back Baker County, 10-8.
Punching tickets: Fondo (pin & decision on front) rallied back from the loss to Williams with a 9-5 consi-semi win over North Bay Haven, while Richardson won three times in the consis, with decisions over Bishop Kenny and Baker County, along with a fall over Fernandina Beach.
Who else impressed us: North Bay Haven’s Nathan Mercado had three bonus-point wins in the tournament, reaching the blood round and announcing that he’ll be around like older brother David for some while yet.
How were our picks?: Three projected picks, including the correct final, qualified out for states; Richardson’s one-point blood-round win was the one miss we had, but he was in the deep-run category and our under-the-radar pick made it to Saturday. Both of our dark horses did not get that far.

Final: Jay Brown (Liberty County, 5th) d. Topher Pearson (Suwannee, 6th), 3-2.
3rd: Jake Parker (Wewahitchka, 7th) p. David Drake (Bay, 9th), 4:48.
Finalists’ path: Brown won by fall over Stanton (rd 1) but had to go into sudden victory to defeat Parker (8-6) in the quarters before a 9-1 semifinal major over Bishop Kenny. Pearson had a forfeit and quarterfinal pin over Drake before majoring Paxon, 12-4, in the semis.
Punching tickets: Parker won four times in the consis, three by pin (Wakulla, Baker County and in the medal round), with a 10-5 win over Paxon in the consi semis, while Drake had three pins to secure his space (Florida High, Union County and Bishop Kenny).
Who else impressed us: Baker County’s Taz Kinghorn was a Saturday qualifier, with two bonus-point wins (one on each side of the bracket).
How were our picks?: We had three out of four, and bottom-half dark horse Parker “held serve” in reaching the blood round, and our deep run pick also got that far, although from the semis. Our under-the-radar pick got to Saturday.

Final: Brody Boehm (Suwannee, 4th) p. David Culley (Wakulla), 5:41.
3rd: Blayden Tharpe (West Nassau) d. Hunter Stanley (Florida High), 7-2.
Finalists’ path: Boehm pinned or teched his way through, with Friday pins over Union County and Fernandina Beach, with a third-period semifinal tech over Episcopal. Culley also pinned his way into the final, with falls over Palatka, Stanton and Tharpe in the semis.
Punching tickets: Tharpe (2 Friday pins) added a 6-4 decision over a district rival from Fernandina in the consi semis, while Stanley, who lost by pin to Tharpe in the quarters on Friday, won three times in the consis, with decisions over North Bay Haven, Stanton and Episcopal.
Who else impressed us: We had Stanley on our mind even before the weekend, but after getting quickly pinned in the quarters, he was able to hold his composure in the wrestlebacks to punch his way out.
How were our picks?: So far, this wasn’t our best weight, with two projecteds making it out (the other two both made the blood round. Culley, the runnerup, was a dark horse pick, so we saw him as a top-six, and our under-the-radar competitor got into Saturday’s rounds, knocking out our other dark horse pick.

Final: Cael Kubatzke (Fernandina Beach, 10th) p. Gibson Moore (South Walton), 2:43.
3rd: Ishmael Foster (Palatka) p. Caleb Orr (Wakulla), 3:47.
Finalists’ path: Kubatzke pinned his way through the draw, never going past the second period, with Friday pins over Baker County and Liberty County, plus a semifinal fall over Orr. Moore pinned or teched to the final, with pins over Marianna and Foster, plus a quarterfinal tech over Tocoi Creek.
Punching tickets: Foster (forfeit and decision on front) falled Yulee in the third period to secure his Silver Spurs space, while Orr (2 decisions on front) added a third over district rival Florida High to get out.
Who else impressed us: Yulee’s Logan Pugh won three times in the consis after dropping an opening-round match, getting all the way back to the blood round.
How were our picks?: We had the right final, but neither of our consi-side medalists made it (blood round and 1-2, respectively). Our dark horses showed that maybe they had some more to offer than I had predicted, but our deep-run pick didn’t compete.

Final: Mikade Harvey (Palatka, 2nd) tf. Austin Adamson (Yulee), 19-3, 4:00.
3rd: Brady Jackson (Wakulla) d. Ayden Kirby (Suwannee), 10-5.
Finalists’ path: Harvey pinned his way into the final, with falls over Godby, Bishop Kenny and Jackson in the semis, while Adamson had Friday pins over Freeport and Union County, taking a decision over Bay in the semis.
Punching tickets: Jackson, who had a pin & tech on the front, took two decisions in the consis, downing Tocoi Creek to secure his state spot. Kirby, who lost by forfeit to Union County in round 1, roared through four consi-side wins (pins over Freeport and Bishop Kenny, major over Episcopal and blood-round win over Bay).
Who else impressed us: You mean besides Kirby, where I’m not sure about why the forfeit in round 1 (which I tabbed as the best round-1 match, guess not)? That’s what I’m going with. It’s tough to win four times in the consis, one of them over a 2022 state qualifier, and not have any margin for error.
How were our picks?: We had three projecteds get out, with the correct final, and our fourth projected got to the blood round (and he’ll be in #TheShow before he’s done). Our deep-run pick also made it to the blood round. So overall not too bad.

Final: Jae T Thaxton (Wakulla, 6th) md. Cole Misciagna (Fernandina Beach, 10th), 9-0.
3rd: Marshall White (Suwannee) md. Jack Raynor (Bishop Kenny), 11-1.
Finalists’ path: Thaxton wasn’t scored upon all weekend, outscoring his opponents 39-0 after Friday pins over Freeport and Union County, with a 10-0 major over Raynor in the semi, while Misciagna bookended an 11-6 win over Rutherford with pins over Tocoi Creek and over White.
Punching tickets: White (2 pins on front) added two more bonus-point wins on the back, with a consi-semi pin over North Bay Haven, while Raynor (pin & decision on front) edged Beachside, 5-4, to secure his Kissimmee space in the blood round.
Who else impressed us: Beachside’s Grady Smith had a solid first post-season in Florida after moving from Michingan, with a district title and then three wins by fall at regions.
How were our picks?: We only had two out of four projecteds make it out, although the other two were our dark horse picks; Smith made the deep run we projected for him, so we had something of an idea, even if the execution wasn’t so great.

Final: Austin McKinney (Suwannee, 2nd) p. Nate Jacobs (Wakulla), 3:36.
3rd: Roberto Cuartero (Bishop Kenny, 3rd) tf. Chance Wolffe (Episcopal), 16-0, 2:41.
Finalists’ path: McKinney pinned his way through the bracket, with Friday pins over Paxon and Union County before falling Cuartero for his first loss of the season in the semis, while Jacobs — who was third at District 2 — bookended a quarterfinal pin over Baker County with decisions over Wolffe and Bay in the semis.
Punching tickets: Cuartero (2 pins on front) bonus-pointed to third, with a blood-round pin over Florida High after his loss, while Wolffe won four times on the back after his loss to Jacobs, with pins over Union County and Bay, a major over Bozeman and decision over FSDB.
Who else impressed us: Gotta go with Wolffe here; he’s had moments where he’s shone, but there’ve been other moments that weren’t so great. This weekend was a pretty great one.
How were our picks?: We had three projecteds get out, but not in the order that I would have thought, as our third-place match was the actual final. Wolffe was our deep-run pick, and, well, his run is still going. Our dark horse picks both made it to Saturday’s rounds.

Final: Enzo Gamba (Fernandina Beach, 2nd) d. Conner Roberts (Wewahitchka, 6th), 7-0.
3rd: Austin Howard (Suwannee, 3rd) p. Keaton Schirmer (Rutherford), 4:43.
Finalists’ path: After a forfeit into the quarters, Gamba bookended a semifinal pin over Howard with decisions over Tocoi Creek and Roberts, while Roberts had pins over Interlachen, Florida High and Episcopal to get to Gamba.
Punching tickets: Howard (2 pins on front) added two more in the consis, pinning district rival Florida High in the semis, while Schirmer set up a rematch with Howard (lost by fall in the quarters) with consecutive majors over Wakulla, Tocoi Creek and Episcopal in qualifying out.
Who else impressed us: I really wasn’t sure what to expect from either Dylan Danson (Tocoi Creek) or John Slade (Bishop Kenny) in this event, but both got to Saturday’s rounds, Slade winning twice (the second one I would have considerd an “upset”).
How were our picks?: Not too bad, we had three out of four selected correctly, including both finalists. Schirmer was a dark horse pick and our other one made the blood round, and our deep run pick did, in fact, make a deep run.

Final: Dylan Johns (Yulee, 4th) p. Dustin Wood (Suwannee), 2:39.
3rd: Jordan Haigler (Florida High) p. Luke Ghannam (Bishop Kenny), 5:44.
Finalists’ path: Johns had Friday pins over South Walton and Haigler before decisioning Ghannam, a district rival, by an 11-4 count in the semis, whilke Wood bookended a key 7-6 win over Episcopal with pins over Bay and Fernandina Beach.
Punching tickets: Haigler won four on the back after his quarterfinal loss to Johns, with a pin over Bay and decisions over Wewahitchka and Fernandina Beach before the medal round, while Ghannam (2 front-side pins) added a third with his blood-round fall over Union County.
Who else impressed us: It’s pretty difficult for a fourth-place finisher at districts to make it out to state, but Ghannam pulled that off. He’s had struggles this year, but seemed to overcome them, giving Johns the closest match he had all tournament.
How were our picks?: Well, we got the final right, but neither of our third-place medalists got past Friday. We did have Ghannam as a dark-horse pick and our other one made the blood round, as did our deep-run pick. Haigler maybe should have been more over, rather than under, the radar.

Final: Nolan McKelvy (West Nassau, 4th) d. Collin Hearn (Bishop Kenny, 5th), 7-0.
3rd: Bryson Schirmer (Rutherford) p. Xander Hawkes (Florida High), 3:15.
Finalists’ path: McKelvy bonus-pointed to the final, with a pin in rd 1 over Rocky Bayou and majors over Suwannee and Union County, while Hearn also opened with a pin (over North Bay Haven), followed by decisions over Hawkes in the quarters and Yulee in the semis.
Punching tickets: After losing by fall to Union in the quarters, Schirmer won four times in the consis, with a pin over Wakulla and decisions over Suwannee and Yulee befor the medal round. Hawkes came back from the loss to Hearn with a pin over Tocoi Creek and wins over Beachside and Union County to qualify out.
Who else impressed us: Normally I don’t give this space to the champ, but when I consider how much McKelvy’s improved over the last two years (he was third at district last year after losing in round 1), I can’t help but give him due credit. This region didn’t push him that hard and there are kids who I would have expected to push him.
How were our picks?: We had three of our projecteds make it out, but in differing order, our fourth projected made the blood round and Schirmer was a dark horse, so we were close. Our other dark horse got to Saturday and our deep run pick made the blood round, with our under-the-radar pick also getting to Saturday. So we were close.

Final: Alex Smith (Yulee, 2nd) p. Christian McGarity (Episcopal, 8th), 4:20.
3rd: Danny Thornton (Union County) p. Gauge Housely (Fernandina Beach), 2:34.
Finalists’ path: Smith needed only 1:41 of mat time to get to the final and District 3-final rematch, with falls over Beachside, Wakulla and Thornton to get there, while McGarity had Friday pins over Baker County and Bishop Snyder before decisioning Housely, 8-1, in the semis, a match of district rivals.
Punching tickets: Thornton (decision and pin on front) won by fall over Raines in the blood round in a rematch of round 1 en route to third, while Housely (pin & decision on front) secured his Silver Spurs space with a decision over Baldwin in the consi semis.
Who else impressed us: Both wrestlers who fell in the blood round, Baldwin’s Taylor Davenport and Raines’ Jhalill Richardson, both lost in round 1 to the wrestlers that would eventually keep them out of the state tournament. That’s not easy to do, particularly coming from programs that sometimes struggle a bit more just to find matches.
How were our picks?: We were 4-for-4 on wrestlers getting out, and had them slotted into the correct matches. Richardson was a dark horse, Davenport was under-the-radar (he’s from Baldwin and they’ve lacked matches this year) and our deep-run pick got to Saturday. Our other dark horse pick didn’t compete. So…pretty good.

Final: David Mercado (North Bay Haven, 2nd) p. Kohl Pippin (Wakulla), 2:37.
3rd: Collin Bishop (Florida High, 10th) p. Cayden Ricks (Yulee), :22.
Finalists’ path: Aside from a 3-0 semifinal win over Bishop, Mercado pinned his way through, with Friday pins over Liberty County and Raines, while Pippin had pins over Wewahitchka, Tocoi Creek and Ricks in succession in order to get to Mercado.
Punching tickets: Bishop (pin & major on the front) added two more pins on the back, pinning Tocoi Creek in the blood round, while Ricks (2 pins on front) added a third pin over Raines to secure his spot in the state field.
Who else impressed us: Raines’ D’Cari Wilson we saw as under the radar, because he was a preseason-ranked pick and then kind of hit some snags during the regular season, but clearly righted the ship, as he had three wins this weekend in order to get to the blood round.
How were our picks?: We had three of four projecteds get out, including the correct final, and Ricks was one of our dark horses. Our deep-run pick did get to Saturday, but our other dark horse did not get to Saturday’s competition.

Final: Braylen Ricks (Yulee, 4th) p. Carlos Sanchez (South Walton, 8th), 1:56.
3rd: Gregory Townsend (Raines, 9th) p. Scout Harr (Liberty County), :53.
Finalists’ path: Ricks max-pointed through the weekend, never going past the second period, with preliminary pins over Palatine and Wakulla prior to reaching the final, while Sanchez had Friday pins over FSDB and Harr before turning back Townsend, 4-2, in the top-half semi.
Punching tickets: Townsend (two front-half pins) would added two more, winning by fall over Florida High in the blood round, while Harr won three times by pin in the consis, with falls over Bay, Episcopal and Wakulla to get to state.
Who else impressed us: Florida High freshman Christian Ajose-Adeogun got to the blood round after losing to Townsend in round 1, with two pins and a decision before his rematch to Townsend in the consi semis. One to watch in the coming years.
How were our picks?: We had three of our four projecteds make it out, with the correct final, and Harr was a dark horse, while our fourth projected made it to the blood round. Things got a little squirrelier aftrer that, but it’s the heavies; it’s part of the deal.

Complete results from all four 1A regions can be found HERE.

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