By MATMEN, Sunday, 9:40 p.m.
KISSIMMEE — Fleming Island sophomore Jayce Paridon has gotten used to be a trailblazer, compared to most Florida sophomores, let along Florida wrestlers.
Competed in several different states in order to get better? Paridon’s already competed in a few different nations in his wrestling career. Folkstyle. Freestyle. Greco-Roman. Wrestling on mats, sand (most likely) and certainly dirt (as he did in India last off-season).
All of that experience has led, 24 hours after the conclusion of the FHSAA state tournament this past weekend at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, to Paridon being the only 2A individual state champion in Region 1 this year.
Paridon was one-half of the only boys’ all-area state championship match Saturday night, facing off against Deltona senior Kevin Kerns for the 132-pound 2A title.
While the match wasn’t a runaway in typical Paridon fashion, he controlled the pace from start to finish, not allowing Kerns to muscle up or capitalize on his advantages, as Paridon scored takedowns in the first and third periods, with a reversal from bottom into a quick turn for back points, leading to an 8-0 major as Paridon rode for nearly 3 1/2 minutes.
“This made (the work) all worth it,” said Paridon, now a four-time FHSAA state placer (1A-5th in 2020 and 1A-3rd in 2021 at University Christian, 2A runnerup at 113 for the Golden Eagles). “I was cutting down so much last year and even earlier this year, I was cutting weight (while wrestling at 126). Now it (moving up) looks like it was a pretty good plan.”
Paridon’s title capped a weekend where Fleming Island moved up from last year’s fourth-place IBT finish, and 10th from two years ago. The Golden Eagles were T-1st on Thursday, dropped to third after Friday’s round, but rallied to come back — behind the team’s nine medals, including Paridon’s title — and take second as a team with 156 points, finishing only behind Lake Gibson, the 2A duals champion from mid-January, with 171.5 points for the Braves.
As for Kerns, a 4x qualifier and 2x placer (1A-5th at 132 last year), his finals run pushed Deltona to 24th in the 81-team 2A state field, with 21 points.
There was one more Region 1 wrestler in the field on Saturday night, as New Smyrna Beach senior Dylon York made the final at 220. But, after powering through to three decisions earlier in the weekend, York — a two-time placer (3rd last year at 195) — couldn’t hold off the strength of Charlotte senior Cael Newton, who needed just one takedown 12 seconds in to impose his will on the match, taking a fall in 1:43.
Still, York’s finalist effort pushed the Barracudas to the second-best area team finish, as New Smyrna Beach finished 12th with 48 points as a group.
Lincoln was one point back of the Barracudas, with 47 points, while Clay (40) was 15th, Oakleaf (31) 17th, Middleburg (22) 23rd, Ft Walton Beach & Matanzas (16 each) T-30th, Pace & Riverside (nine each) T-41st, Gulf Breeze (seven) T-43rd, Chiles & Ed White (four each) T-50th and Westside (three) T-55th.
A brief summary of each weight class follows, along with a look at our predictions made pre-tournament. Look for the photo albums of Saturday’s action on the North Florida Matmen Facebook page (photos will be posted to Instagram later in the weekend or early next week).
Championship: Roberto Rodriguez (Brandon) d. Landon Quiroga (Merritt Island), 7-2.
Local how they fared: Clay’s Jacob Bucci was 3rd, Fleming Island’s Matthew Newman 4th and Matanzas’ Timothy McLean 5th. Bucci won twice Saturday, pinning McLean (1:41) in the consi semis, while Newman downed Charlotte’s Matthew Schuler, 9-5, in the same round. In the medal round, Bucci had just one takedown, but it was all that was needed, as he also had a turn against Newman seconds later for a 4-0 decision. McLean had two takedowns in the fifth-place match against Schuler, only allowing escapes in a 4-3 win.
How crazy were my picks?: We got the championship- and 3rd-place matches right and we had McLean placing, though he proved us wrong by moving up two spots. We correctly picked six of the actual eight placers. So not too crazy.
Championship: Roman Lermer (Tampa Jesuit) d. Camren French (Charlotte), 8-2.
Local how they fared: Lincoln’s Vaniel Caceres was 6th as the area’s lone medalist in the weight class, with Saturday losses to Cape Coral’s Robert Albert (9-2 in the consi semis) and to East River’s Pedro Sifuentes, 5-0, in the fifth-place match, giving up takedowns in the second and third periods.
How crazy were my picks?: We correctly picked seven of the eight eventual placers, including the right finals and 3rd-place match; we had Caceres meeting Sifuentes for the final match of his season, but we had it for 7th, so he proved us wrong a bit. They weren’t too crazy.
Championship: Christian Fretwell (Lake Gibson) p. Alexander McMiller (Satellite), 1:43.
Local how they fared: In the 7th-place match, Lincoln’s Jashawn Washington took down Gulf Breeze’s Coby Shields by a 5-1 decision, with takedowns in the second and third periods.
How crazy were my picks?: We correctly picked seven of the eight placers, though we had none of the individual matches right. We had Shields in the 7th-place match. We had Washington as an unranked under-the-radar wrestler. So while they were not as good as 106 or 113, they were decent.
Championship: Maximus Brady (Mariner) tf. Dominick Smith (River Ridge), 15-0, 2:11. (Note: Brady teched his way through the tournament).
Local how they fared: Oakleaf’s Sebastian Bonochea was the area’s lone medalist, placing 5th. After a loss by fall to eventual 3rd Landon Bates of Countryside (3:36), Bonochea won by injury default in the fifth-place match.
How crazy were my picks?: Pretty crazy. We didn’t have Bonochea placing; our bad, he definitely proved us wrong. We had Smith as an under-the-radar wrestler, he ran the table to the final. We had exactly three of eight placers predicted who actually medaled. We were a hot mess at this weight.
Championship: Paridon md. Kerns, 8-0.
(Additional) local how they fared: New Smyrna Beach’s Jonathan Bruner was 8th, taking an 8-3 loss to Lely’s McKenley Charelus. After Bruner got the first takedown, Charleus took the lead and never lost it, with a takedown and 3-point nearfall. Charelus added a takedown very late to secure the win.
How crazy were my picks?: We had five of the eight actual placers slotted to place. While we of course HOPED Kerns would go higher than our projected 7th/8th, and freely admit that we do from time-to-time pick lower as motivation (it DOES work in some cases; see, e.g., the Matanzas girls’ team), I would have to say I didn’t expect a finals run. So Kerns proved me wrong.
Championship: Draven McCall (Tampa Jesuit) md. Lucas Giles (Barron Collier), 13-2.
Local how they fared: Pace’s Maeson Otwell was the area’s only medalist, placing eighth after a 16-2 loss by major to Brandon’s Thomas Gernhart. Gernhart had two takedowns and a reversal, with three 3-point nearfalls, scoring nine points in the third period, which had opened with an Otwell takedown.
How crazy were my picks?: Not TOO crazy. We had Otwell in the 7th-place match and we had seven of eight eventual placers named in the preview. We didn’t count on Ny’Travious Walker finishing fourth after fourth in Region 2 (it’s that Lake Gibson thing that they do). But we over-estimated some placers and under-estimated (to some extent) others.
Championship: Hayden Whidden (Lake Gibson) p. Keith Cole (Heritage), 3:39.
Local how they fared: Fleming Island’s Kaden Schaefer was 3rd and Middleburg’s Logan Moore 5th. After Schaefer and Moore opened the day with Schaefer taking a 9-0 major behind a pair of takedowns and two nearfalls, both wrestlers won their final match of the season, with Schaefer turning Tampa Jesuit’s Gavin Young before taking a fall in 3:17 for third, while Moore giving up first takedown didn’t faze him, as he hit a 5-point move in the second period and made it stand up for an 8-6 win over Winter Springs’ Jonathan Adams.
How crazy were my picks?: They were kinda jacked up. We had Whidden in the final and Schaefer for third. We had Cole medaling but certainly not reaching the final. We had Adams as an unranked under-the-radar wrestler, and him placing fourth suggests we were right. But there were some mistakes made, for sure.
Championship: Gianni Maldonado (Lake Gibson) d. Brandon Cody (Tampa Jesuit), 5-1.
Local how they fared: Lincoln’s Connor Edwards was 4th, Fleming Island’s Matthew Kotler 6th and Matanzas’ Dylan Parkinson 8th. Edwards started with a pin (1:50) over Port Charlotte’s Tyler Rodriguez, but couldn’t slow down Mariner’s Hansel Pompa-Mauri’s six takedowns in the medal round, falling by a 14-8 decision. Kotler saw Pompa-Mauri first on Saturday, falling by a 10-6 decision, but then fell behind early against Rodriguez in the medal round, going down 5-0 and fighting back before falling, 8-6. As for Parkinson, he gave up takedowns in each period to Merritt Island’s Dylan Quiroga, as Quiroga took a 7-1 win.
How crazy were my picks?: We had six of the eight eventual placers picked in the preview, including the correct final. But that’s where things stopped going well, as we didn’t list Pompa-Mauri at all. We didn’t list Kotler at all (maybe COULD have been some sandbagging with that non-pick), we undervalued Edwards a bit (had him losing to a kid he pinned) and had Parkinson a little higher.
Championship: Christopher Minto (Mariner) tf. Gage Wiggins (Braden River), 15-0, 5:19.
Local how they fared: Fleming Island’s Christopher Chop was 5th and Ed White’s Benny Lewis 8th. After a 3-2 consi-semi loss to Brandon’s Ty Rodriguez, in which a Rodriguez mid-third period takedown was the only scoring move of the match, Chop won by injury default over Winter Springs’ Ransom Randolph to take fifth. In his only match Saturday, Lewis gave up just one takedown, but Gabrielsen was able to work two turns from it in collecting the pin in 1:32.
How crazy were my picks?: Not much at all. We had seven of the eight actual placers selected, including the correct championship, third- and fifth-place matches. We would have been perfect, except Lewis won by a 10-6 decision in the Friday blood round, over the guy we picked, to prove us wrong.
Championship: Elijah Penton (Winter Springs) md. August Batson (Atlantic), 13-5.
Local how they fared: Fleming Island’s Ronan Bozeman was 5th and Clay’s Dominic Martin was 7th, as both won their final high school match. After falling by a 6-5 count in the consi semis to Bonita Springs’ Konner Stuttgen, Bozeman had takedowns in each period to take down Manatee’s Mason Miller, 7-2. Meanwhile, Martin needed just one takedown to assert control of the 7th-place match, pinning Brandon’s Austin Williams in 1:22.
How crazy were my picks?: Well, in one sense not at all, as we had all eight eventual placers named as such in our preview. We would have picked the correct champion. But after that, in the details, they get a little squirrelly. We definitely undervalued Batson, who won two matches on the front that we did not expect, and that undervaluation shuffled some folks down some.
Championship: Jessey Colas (Braden River) d. Michael McCarthy (Satellite), 5-3.
Local how they fared: Fleming Island’s Joshua Sandoval was 4th, New Smyrna Beach’s Sawyer VanRider 5th and Ft Walton Beach’s Connor Roberts 8th. Sandoval and VanRider opened in a head-to-head consi semi, with Sandoval able to ride VanRider out for a 1-0 win, but after scoring first takedown and opening a pair of leads against Charlotte’s Jett McCauley in the medal round, he couldn’t slow down McCauley in the third period, falling by an 11-5 decision. VanRider went on to win by injury default over Lake Gibson’s Tito Solorzano, while Roberts couldn’t push the pace in the 7th-place match against Pasco’s Bruno Ingalls, giving up four takedowns along the way in a 10-5 loss.
How crazy were my picks?: We picked seven of the eight eventual placers — missing only Roberts (he won by an 11-9 count over our pick) — but we didn’t project Solorzano (one of the best wrestlers in Florida to never win a title) to get hurt in the semis. Aside from that we were largely on. We had Colas and Sandoval in the right matches, and we MAYBE(?) intentionally undervalued VanRider.
Championship: Brian Burburija (Countryside) p. Nathaniel Box (Charlotte), 1:41.
Local how they fared: Oakleaf’s Isaiah Shevchook was 3rd, Lincoln’s Jakob Nowak 4th, Ft Walton Beach’s Darius Brundidge 5th and New Smyrna Beach’s Derek King 7th. Shevchook powered through two decisions, with his only loss of the tournament to Burburija, a two-time state champion and 3x finalist, in the quarters on Friday. Shevchook had the only scoring move in a 3-1 consi-semi win over Manatee’s Damontez McDowell, then led for most of the way before getting the match’s only takedown in a 4-2 win over Nowak for third. Nowak got to Shevchook behind a pair of takedowns and a late turn for a 7-2 win over Brundidge in the consi semis. Brundidge did rally in the medal round, with a late takedown of his own to take the only lead he would have in a 3-2 win over McDowell for 5th. King took 7th with a win by injury-default over Merritt Island’s Seven Tornga.
How crazy were my picks?: We had six of the eight eventual wrestlers named in our preview and McDowell was our under the radar choice. We had the correct championship and seventh-place match. Shevchook proved me wrong by pinning my eventual 3rd in 31 seconds, I thought his path to a medal would have to go through the consis. We also didn’t list King as placing, so he proved me wrong. But they weren’t too bad otherwise.
Championship: Newton p. York, 1:43.
(Additional) local how they fared: Fleming Island’s Jhoel Robinson was 3rd, Riverside’s Thomas Jones 6th and Clay’s Kedtric Wilbourn 8th. After taking a third-period fall (4:59) over Jones in the consi semis, in which the pinning turn was the only big move in what otherwise was a tight match, Robinson then avenged his Friday quarterfinal loss to Pasco’s Cassidy Grubbs, winning by a 5-3 count in the medal round behind a takedown and turn in the second period. Jones then took a second loss by pin in the medal round, as Merritt Island’s Kaleb Ivie won by fall in 33 seconds. In his only match Saturday, Wilbourn fell, 8-2, to North Ft Myers’ Frank Cornelison to place 8th, allowing a pair of takedowns and a 3-point turn early in the third.
How crazy were my picks?: We had Newton, Robinson and Jones in the right medal matches (though we had hopes for Robinson in the final), and we had York undervalued just slightly. We did not expect Jones to pin our finals pick in the quarters, to be fair. After that though, against the rest of the area, we were all over the place. I don’t think they were 126-bad, but they were in the mix for being that bad.
Championship: Nate Gabriel (Auburndale) md. Vincent Chavez (Port Charlotte), 10-0.
Local how they fared: Fleming Island’s Ethan Hoffstetter was 4th and Lincoln’s Ryder Luck 8th. After a walkover forfeit into the 3rd-place match, Hoffstetter couldn’t keep Rockledge’s Howard Craft at bay in the medal round, as Craft had two takedowns in the final minute to push through for a 5-2 win. In the 7th-place match, Charlotte’s Nikko Frattarelli picked up a first-period takedown and was able to hand-fight well enough to keep Luck from scoring in a 3-0 decision.
How crazy were my picks?: We had five of the eight eventual placers named in our preview, with the correct final. We had Craft in the third-place match correctly. We under-picked Hoffstetter, again perhaps intentionally, but his path was certainly an interesting one, losing his first match and then winning four on the bounce to get to the third-place match. We didn’t list Luck at all, and maybe that got used as motivation for him to make the medals. He won’t sneak up on folks as easily next year.
Final brackets can be found HERE.