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#matWOMEN WEEKEND TOURNAMENTS

#Punchout: Viers, McCormack Take 6ths

By MATMEN
November 26, 7:50 p.m.
WESLEY CHAPEL — Before most teams got their first event of the season in next week, Windermere’s girls team had its second trip over to the greater Tampa area on Saturday afternoon.

Competing in Wiregrass Ranch’s Princess Punchout, the Lady Wolverines finished 12th in the 13-team event, scoring 12 points.

Two Windermere wrestlers competed on Saturday, with freshman Emily McCormack (140) placing sixth at 140. McCormack’s two losses were to ranked competitors — Bell Creek’s Fikayo Aroyewun (135-5th, in the second match between the pair) and to Immokalee’s Genesis Turrubiartez (130-11th), but a pin over another Immokalee wrestler assured another placing finish.

At 170, Lady Wolverine sophomore Sarah Viers picked up her first win of the season, a pin over Admiral Farragut, and that got her advanced enough to place sixth. Viers also had a loss to a ranked wrestler, Admiral Farragut’s Alyssa Dunn (155-18th), in the consi semis.

The top ranked team in the field, Boca Ciega (13th), had no individual champions, but topped the team standings with a 39.5-point win over Bell Creek and Immokalee, 177.5-138.

Windermere will have a home event for its next competition — and the area’s next event as well — on Tuesday night, as Ocoee, Wekiva & West Orange will all participate in the Lady Wolverines’ roundrobin.

Results from Saturday’s event can be found HERE.

Rankings courtesy of Kabra Wrestling, kabrawrestling.com/rankings/girls

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#matWOMEN WEEKEND TOURNAMENTS

#Preview: Princess Punchout

Princess Punchout

When & where: Saturday at Wiregrass Ranch.
Local teams: Windermere.
State-ranked teams: Boca Ciega (#13), Wiregrass Ranch (#T-16).
Area state-ranked wrestlers: None.
Brief analysis: Windermere hits the Tampa suburbs for its second tournament of the season at a time when most teams haven’t competed in their first. The Lady Wolverines got a initial taste of the state scene in Wednesday’s Lady Braves Invitational at Lake Gibson, finishing 18th out of 19 teams. Saturday’s event is a bit smaller, just eight squads in play.
All rankings from: kabrawrestling.com/news/kabra-wrestling-team-rankings-updated

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#matWOMEN MIDWEEK TOURNAMENTS

#LkGibson: Windermere’s McCormack Places 4th

By MATMEN
November 23, 5:20 p.m.
LAKELAND — Windermere kicked off the north’s IBT season Wednesday with two Lady Wolverines competing in the Lady Braves Invitational, hosted by Lake Gibson.

Windermere was 18th in the 19-team field, with two wrestlers competing.

Lady Wolverine freshman Emily McCormack placed fourth in the 140-lb weight class. After a loss by fall in the quarters to fifth-ranked Fikayo Aroyewun (Bell Creek, ranked at 135), the eventual runnerup, McCormack bounced back with a fall over Harmony in the consi semis to assure a medal, losing by fall to Springstead in the third-place match.

Third-ranked Freedom, the top-ranked team in the field, outdistanced #7 Gateway, 164-110, for the team title.

Windermere will compete for the second time this holiday weekend on Saturday at Wiregrass Ranch’s Princess Punchout event. Like Wednesday’s event, the Punchout will be IBT in format.

Results from Wednesday’s event can be found HERE.

Rankings courtesy of Kabra Wrestling, kabrawrestling.com/rankings/girls

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#matWOMEN MIDWEEK TOURNAMENTS

#Oviedo: Lady Lions, Titans Kick Off Season

By MATMEN
November 23, 4 p.m.
OVIEDO — A set of 14 girls, wrestling for four different schools, kicked off the coverage area’s 2022-23 Tuesday night in a girls’ roundrobin staged at Oviedo.

In addition to the host Lady Lions, University (Orange City) — along with out-of-area teams Boone & Horizon — also competed in the roundrobin. No team scores were kept across the four rounds of competition. Boys’ preseason duals were also conducted across the four teams.

  • Local unbeatens: Jaelyn Sunseri (UOC) 2-0; Bryanne Kaminsky (UOC, #5 at 130) 3-0; Jana El’harake (Oviedo, #7 at 135) 2-0.
  • Out-of-area unbeatens: Deleilah Viteri (Horizon) 3-0.
  • Highlights: There were three head-to-head matches involving state-ranked wrestlers, with both Kaminsky (fall in 3:17) and El’harake (fall in 3:03) both taking wins over 4th-ranked Jade Noble of Horizon.
  • Results: Full results from Tuesday’s roundrobin can be found HERE.
  • Next competitions: While Oviedo girls will be wrestling at Lake Mary in dual competition, the full complement of Lady Lions will next be at Toho’s Lady Tiger Invitational on December 3. The Lady Titans will next host the Lady Clash of Titans, on December 2.

Rankings courtesy of Kabra Wrestling, kabrawrestling.com/rankings/girls

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#matWOMEN: Hey, Y’all, My Bad

Sometimes I get it right. Sometimes I get it really right. Sometimes I get it wrong. Sometimes I get it really wrong.

Or, in the case of #matWOMEN this year, all of the above.

We didn’t make predictions this year because, quite frankly, with a couple of exceptions among the very elite programs, I have no idea what most of y’all’ve got in your rooms right now.

Just this morning, I was in conversation with a coach on Facebook. His team (he’s an assistant at his school) had four or five girls that wrestled consistently, his top girl that wrestled last year graduated.

And his team has 13 girls in the room, he said.

I suspect that school isn’t alone — although I’m sure, too, that not every team will have that many girls.

But when the calendar came out and the girls’ competitive season was able to start a week sooner, I thought it was imperative that we write a separate preview. As it so happens, I think it is the first cumulative girls’ wrestling preview written for Florida. It won’t be the best — my friend Brant’s preview coming up in the next 10-ish days or so will be better — but it is a good jumping-off point.

Writing a preseason preview, good or bad, requires the writer to necessarily look back to what’s happened before.

But I am just as excited to look ahead, and #matWOMEN hopefully not only whets your appetite on what’s coming in the north Florida girls scene, but also gives you a heads-up on how I intend to cover it.

So. To that end, I’m going to require head coaches to send me full results for girls just as we would expect, and have expected, for boys. If there are separate duals, I will want those. If there are separate girls’ matches wrestled as prelim to a dual, I will want those results. And I’ll want full tournament results from your coaches, whether it’s a tournament on the weekend or a midweek roundrobin.

The mechanics of that, I’ll work out with the coaches.

I hope you enjoyed #matWOMEN today. If you’ve got the availability, I hope you’ll consider donating to our efforts. It’s a lot of work to write these previews and maintain the website (we had 14 posts, including this one, today alone). You can use the link below. If you’re not on our Facebook page, join us. Not sure how much longer Twitter will last, but you can go to @NorthFLAMatmen until you can’t (I’ll wait to decide on an alternative later). We’re going to post snapshots of the #matWOMEN previews and post them on nflamatmen, our Instagram page.

We start with the first event Tuesday in Oviedo.

Can’t wait to see y’all wrestle like a girl this year, and shock the world.

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#matWOMEN: District 5

#matWOMEN
November 17, 2022 — 6 a.m.

Quantity or quality?

District 5 is going to tell the tale on that age-old question, as Dr Phillips and its tradition and (still) deep room takes on shorter-handed, but power-packed Apopka for top honors in the district this year.

This wasn’t a close call in 2021-22, as the Lady Panthers rolled to a 104-point victory in the District 5 IBT last year.

But one of the top Floridians to leave high school, multiple-time state champion Juliana Diaz, left Dr Phillips in May for graduation, along with two other post-season starters — including one state qualifier.

The Lady Panthers do bring back as many as nine projected key returners, led by 2022 FHSAA state qualifiers in seniors Victoria Ceballos (100 in March) and Amy Etienne (155), plus sophomore Tanyah McCain (235). DPHS also had three additional wrestlers reach the Region 2 blood round. And they have the tradition, although last year’s 15th-place finish was significantly off the pace from previous girls’ state finishes.

As for the Lady Blue Darters, though, Apopka can’t match that number of returners, with as many as five projected key returners.

But that didn’t seem to faze the returning group last year, as Apopka flew past DPHS into the top 10 at state (7th) behind state-medal efforts from juniors Jada Jones (3rd at 190), Shelby Sherman (6th at 110) and Nehemie Gregoire (7th at 140).

If Apopka can fill in a good part of the lineup with new faces, and bring them up to speed, they will be a force to overcome, not just in the district, but statewide.

New Matmen team South Lake and second-year area program Ocoee are probably among the stronger teams that can challenge for top-3 spots in the district race.

The Lady Eagles can call upon four projected key qualifiers from last year’s team. South Lake brings back two returning state qualifiers, led by senior medalist Zoe Williamson (5th at 140, Region 2 champ) along with senior qualifier Grisbet Guzman (135 in March).

As for the Lady Knights, Ocoee has five projected key returners back, led by state qualifier Cierra Young (170 in March). Like Apopka, if the Lady Knights can find a couple more at state, they’ll be more of a region threat.

As for the rest of the area teams, Olympia has two projected key returners back from last year, both post-season starters, while Wekiva, West Orange and Winter Park each have one. Lady Wildcats sophomore Aliyah Gonzalez (105, defending Region 2 champ) is the only returning state qualifier from those programs.

For teams outside the coverage area, Colonial, with five returning post-season starters (even after losing 4th-place state medalist Alanis Soler to graduation), is probably the best-positioned to challenge for a top-3 district finish.

Edgewater and Lake Buena Vista each have three projected key returners, while Jones has two and Horizon one, though that one, Jade Noble (145 in March), was fourth at state. LBV’s Denalie Dauphin (125) was the only other returner to qualify for state.

We aren’t projecting picks for the girls’ side yet, as very few programs have full teams.

Capsules for all teams in District 5, where there are returning or graduated wrestlers that competed in the post-season, can be found HERE:  GIRLS DISTRICT 5 CAPSULES

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#matWOMEN: District 4

#matWOMEN
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

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#matWOMEN: District 1

#matWOMEN
November 17, 2022 — 6 a.m.

Girls have been a significant part of Wewahitchka wrestling for the past several years.

And even with the Lady Gators’ top wrestler and overall team’s emotional leader in 2022 graduate Kaylee Easter now having moved on to Brewton-Parker (AL) College to compete, the Wewa girls just might have what it takes to repeat as champions in District 1.

But it’s going to take the efforts of a cadre of six returning girls, who wrestled in Easter’s shadow, that make defending that title as possible next year as winning it was in February of this year.

Wewahitchka has a mixture of high-school juniors and middle-school aged kids that make up that cadre, five of whom picked up wins at the Region 1 level. Leading that group this year will be 8th-grader Kameron Easter, Kaylee’s younger sister, who qualified for the FHSAA state tournament at 100 last season

The top individual returning wrestler in the district — and certainly one of the most-heralded in the region — is also the district’s biggest question mark, as Mosley senior Henlee Haynes is potentially gunning for her third state title and fourth state-final appearance, with a possible second FHSAA gold.

The words potentially and possible are more loaded than usual, however, as Haynes (170 champ in March) was injured during Super 32 competition last month, with Dolphins coach Jeff Skipper noting in a local podcast that he hoped to have Haynes back for the post-season run. With her, Mosley will challenge strongly for the district team race.

Without Haynes, though, it will take some solid recruiting efforts for Mosley to repeat its runnerup team performance at districts. While there are two projected key returners back besides Haynes and both wrestled at regions, the Lady Dolphins took off-season losses hard, with a senior state qualifier moving on with graduation and 2022 FHSAA state champion Valarie Solorio (100, unbeaten in HS season) transferring to Canon-McMillan HS, located just outside Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania.

Do not be surprised if Crestview winds up atop the district at season’s end. After the Biblas across the state, the Bulldogs’ Metzger sisters are certainly the next best sister combo in the north, with sophomore Sigrun Metzger (6th at 105, Region 1 champ last year) and senior Freydis Metzger returning to lead Crestview.

If Crestview can get a couple more girls out, get them up to speed, and their less-experienced wrestlers from a year ago as well, they could be quite the wild card in the district race.

There’ll be several teams in the mix for top-five spots, with Choctaw, Ft Walton Beach and Milton repping the Panhandle, along with Lincoln from the north central part of the coverage area.

The Lady Panthers might be best-positioned among them, with two returning state qualifiers in sophomores Shyann Donaldson (190 last year) and Alexis Brown (100 in March), who transferred from Crestview, plus a strong nucleus coming up from the burgeoning club scene in the Panhandle.

Lincoln will have to replace 2022 state medalist Maggie Moss (7th at 235), but does have three projected key returners back, as does Choctaw, whose best girls competitor last year did not wrestle the post-season. Ft Walton Beach went from one girl on the roster to four post-season starters, three of them competing at Region 1.

Six teams will have at least two projected key returners back; two of them — Bay and Niceville — had situations where both returners were regular starters in the boys’ lineup, but neither competed in the girls’ post-season series.

There were four wrestlers from the remainder of the two-returner group — from Bozeman, Chiles (2x) and North Bay Haven — where they reached the Region 1 blood round, with South Walton joining them with a pair of region qualifiers.

Seven teams in the district have one key returner back upon which to perhaps build out a larger team. Of those seven, Tate sophomore Lahela Grady (7th at 115 last year) and Gulf Breeze sophomore Lily Powell (110 in March) were the only 2022 state qualifiers among the returners. However, do not be surprised if the Dolphins push hard for the top of the district, between freshmen moving up to the varsity, and transfers coming in — including senior Helena Alcantar, who competed at girls’ state for Pace two years ago and transferred over from Milton.

Wrestlers at Florida High and Rutherford reached the Region 1 blood round, while returners at Arnold and Pace did also compete at regions (the Patriots were the only team within this group that had to contend with some graduation loss). Liberty County also has one projected key returner back, but that returner did not compete in the post-season series.

There are three teams slotted into the district that don’t have projected key returners; none of them had girls on the roster last year. Marianna and Wakulla have both had girls in the past but did not last year.

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 1, where there are returning or graduated wrestlers that competed in the post-season, can be found HERE:  GIRLS DISTRICT 1 CAPSULES

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#matWOMEN: District 6

#matWOMEN
November 17, 2022 — 6 a.m.

Timber Creek is the lone area team that we cover in District 6. Last year, the Lady Wolfpack were runners-up only to eventual state champion Freedom, and went on to finish third at Region 2 and 6th at state.

Duplicating those feats might be a taller order in 2022-23, what with the loss of the Waltz twins — Bailey (3rd at 130) and Madison (4th at 135) — to May graduations.

But those are the only graduation losses that Timber Creek sustained, and most of the Lady Wolfpack’s starting lineup otherwise will return, meaning that they could have a chance to figure heavily into the Region 2 picture.

Leading that charge will be junior Chloe Shull, who ran the table en route to an undefeated regular season, plus district and region titles on the way to a Saturday night appearance at Silver Spurs Arena, where she fell just short in the final.

Fellow TCHS junior Taylor Thomas (120 last year) also returns as a state qualifier, finishing one match off the state podium. In all, the Lady Wolfpack can call upon as many as six projected key returners.

Freedom will likely be the favorite to repeat in the district and the region, but the Lady Patriots took quite a lot of hits from graduation as well, with six post-season starters to replace. 2022 state champion Cameron Galvin (115 last year) returns, along with medalists Keyla DeLeon (3rd-135) and Maite Coutinho (7th-100).

Gateway, last year’s District 7 champion, comes over to District 6 this year, and will have two returning state placers as well in Lilly Yambor (170-4th) and Emiliana Martinez (190-6th). Osceola, last year’s 3rd-place team in District 7, also has a decent-sized group and some star power, with returning state medalist Kelliana Mack (125-5th).

Tohopekaliga, Cypress Creek and East River have some sizable groups returning, and could challenge for top-5 district positions. Celebration might not be there in team positioning, but has a powerhouse individually returning in 2022 state runnerup Hayeni Costa.

We aren’t projecting picks for the girls’ side yet, as very few programs have full teams.

Capsules for all teams in District 6, where there are returning or graduated wrestlers that competed in the post-season, can be found HERE:  GIRLS DISTRICT 6 CAPSULES

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#matWOMEN: District 3

#matWOMEN
November 17, 2022 — 6 a.m.

Is Matanzas v Ponte Vedra already the girls’ version of the #UncivilWar?

Maybe, even if it does need a different hashtag.

The Lady Pirates and Lady Sharks stood atop the north all last season, with Matanzas holding the slight upper hand through the regular season and first two rounds of the FHSAA IBT series, and Ponte Vedra pushing past the Lady Pirates by a single point for second at state.

Most boys wrestling teams would love to have 16 projected key returners coming into this season. Matanzas more than doubles up any other team in the district with its 16-strong group in District 3, after losing two graduates in May, neither of whom started in the post-season lineup in February. No other team has double-digit returners in the north.

For that reason alone, the Lady Pirates are going to be a formidable challenge. But not is there quantity, there’s quality. 2022 Matanzas state medalists back include sophomore and defending state champion Tiana Fries (110 in March), as well as sophomore Mariah Mills (3rd at 105), senior Isabella Tietje (6th at 135), sophomore Christina Borgmann (8th at 120) and an additional state qualifier in junior Salomy Cabrera (140).

If that’s not enough, transfers brought in the Bibla sisters, both themselves state medalists, from Tocoi Creek, where senior Brielle Bibla reached the 120 final in March, while sophomore Kendall Bibla (130) placed 5th. The Lady Pirates also had four wrestlers reach the Region 1 blood round. More than one post-season starter for Matanzas in 2022 won’t be in February.

As for the Lady Sharks, they have plenty of powerhouse ability returning in their seven projected key returners, even after losing a state qualifier and two post-season starters to graduation.

Senior Olivia Richie (145 in March) matches Fries as a returning state champion, and will be joined by returning state medalists in sophomores Erin Rizzuto (3rd at 115) and Natalia Choquegonza (7th at 125). Additionally, senior Josie Sagasser (3rd at 135 in 2021) returns this year after spending most of her junior season in Israel. The rest of Ponte Vedra’s starters, along with any new recruits brought in (and there appear to be a few), will have to get up to speed fast.

If I had to look for a natural team for third place, I might start with Bartram Trail. The Lady Bears lost no one off last year’s team, a top-10 finisher at regions.

Bartram has back as many as five projected key returners from last year, all five of which started in the post-season, led by a pair of junior state medalists in Hannah Matalobos (6th at 170) and Katherine Stewart (7th at 145, Region 1 champ).

Clay’s another team that could be in the mix for third in the district, but this year’s group is hampered by some graduation loss, including two state qualifiers, one of them two-time state champion Madisyn Blackburn (130 in March).

The Lady Blue Devils will be led by a cadre of four projected key returners, all of them post-season starters and region qualifiers. Senior Aubrianna Apple (8th at 125 in March) heads up that group.

Several teams will be in the mix for top-three or four positions, depending upon how well they’re able to recruit new faces into the lineup.

With three projected key returners, Creekside has the most back in the district among teams not already highlighted. The Lady Knights had no graduation losses, and can establish a previous track record with girls in competition.

Buchholz, Flagler Palm Coast, Nease and Tocoi Creek each have two key projected returners back. Of those, Nease senior Olivia Carr (8th at 125) is the only returning state medalist, while Flagler sophomore Ana Vilar was a Silver Spurs Arena qualifier, also at 125.

The Lady Bobcats had two that reached the Region 1 blood round last year, while Tocoi Creek rebuilds after losing their top three wrestlers via transfer. The Lady Toros, as well, had one wrestler that got as far as the Region 1 blood round.

Ridgeview has one projected key returner back from last year, while we’ll have to see what Keystone Heights — one of the earlier adapters of bringing several girls into the sport, wrestling them against boys, graduated both of their key performers from last year.

Beachside is a new program, while Fleming Island and FSDB are established programs that have not had girls wrestle for them in our experience. It’s too soon to tell, at this early vantage point, how those teams will fare.

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 3, where there are returning or graduated wrestlers that competed in the post-season, can be found HERE:  GIRLS DISTRICT 3 CAPSULES

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