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Englewood — The Season, 2013-14

I had just little itty-bitty discrepancies with Englewood, three short here, four over there. We had no discrepancy on one starter’s record (Herrera), but all of the others had little ones here and there. I changed to dovetail with what Englewood reported, but you can see what I had also. I’m happy whenever I felt like I had a handle on somebody’s records this year.

ENGLEWOOD

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Bragging Rights, Region Style: Who Won 2A Region 1?

OK, so with these region bragging rights pieces I think I’d like to be a bit more detailed, given that there are many, many more local kids in play. But we’ll start the same way we did the state pieces.

Looking at the qualifiers, here’s how you’d expect the districts to fall out:

1. Leon (18) — 5-4-5-4.
2. Choctawhatchee (15) — 4-5-5-1.
3. Englewood (14) — 4-4-2-4.
4. Creekside (9) — 1-1-2-5.

So let’s jump to it. I made you guys wait long enough already.

106 pounds

1. Creekside — 34 points.
8-6 as a district. Austin Wynn (1st) 4-0, Rocky Samples 3-2, Kristopher Smith 1-2, Aaron Mago 0-2.
Key wins: After Wynn’s, obviously, the only thing that looks in any way upset-ty in nature might have been Samples beating Lincoln’s Sean Hendley 12-9 in the consi quarters. As I didn’t cover Matanzas as an area team last year, I don’t have history on how that matchup might have gone during the regular season. It was a bigger win, for sure.

2. Choctawhatchee — 33 points.
7-7 as a district. Nelson Elder (4th) 3-2, Blake Hartzog (2nd) 3-1, Brenden Lugo 1-2, Jordan Chermauckas 0-2.
Key wins: Hartzog got a key fall in the semis to ensure his ticket was punched from the bottom half of the bracket. Elder had to go through Wynn in the semis and then fend off a tough challenge from Samples in the consi semis, winning 5-4 to ensure he would get out to Lakeland.

3. Leon — 29 points.
7-7 as a district. Cole Horton (not available) 0-2, Traevon O’Neal (3rd) 5-1, Hendley 2-2, Nathan Kilgore 0-2.
Key wins: O’Neal’s only loss in the region was to Elder, and he got that one back in the third-place match. Still a pretty solid performance from the district as a whole, even without having the champion available and having O’Neal pulling most of the load as a result.

4. Englewood — 13 points.
5-8 as a district. Dylan Rossetti 2-2, Roderick Evans 2-2, Brandon Rice 1-2, Ivory Durham (not available) 0-2.
Key wins: I think the Evans 10-8 win over Hendley might be really big for him, not that it got him to state this year, but for him to beat a Lincoln wrestler should be really helpful in 2014-15 for his makeup. Rossetti will be back and will have a chance to work through getting through the second day. Saturday was a bit of a struggle, but he also faced two ranked wrestlers.

113

1. Englewood — 51 points at weight (64 overall).
10-6 as a district. Marcus Reid (1st) 4-0, Chris Griffin (4th) 4-2, Robert Hammock 0-2, Archie Brown 2-2.
Key wins: Reid pinning his way through the draw was impressive enough, but for the comparative differences I might say that Griffin’s majors over Nease’s Tristen Lucessi and St. Augustine’s Dustin Vara were equally impressive (plus going 4-3 with a ranked Tahj Brennen of Gainesville in third-place match). Brown pitched in, too, with a one-sided major over the Choctawhatchee runnerup.

2. Leon — 34 points at weight (63 overall).
9-6 as a district. Jacob Geiger (2nd) 3-1, Brennen (3rd) 5-1, Josh Wine (not available) 0-2, Logan Mellor 1-2.
Key wins: Mostly held to form, although the district would have scored more with a full group. (Side note: I cast no aspersions on anybody who forfeited at regions, but I would say there should be a procedure in place to allow alternates to compete — the only time there should be forfeits or byes in the region/states level of the post-season is when there aren’t enough competitors. We’ll see the impact of that later).

3. Creekside — 25 points at weight (59 overall).
6-8 as a district. Carter Goodman 2-2, Dustin Vara 2-2, Tristen Lucessi 1-2, Josh Cordle 1-2. Goodman is another one who had a better tournament than I might have otherwise expected. A good draw helped, but he went 3-1 with Brennen. He was state-quality this past season. The top three will all be juniors next year. All could and should be considered state ranking-worthy.

4. Choctawhatchee — 15 points at weight (48 overall).
3-8 as a district. Jason Bucy 2-2, David Sweeney 1-2, Justin Witt 0-2, Carter Lurk 0-2.
Key wins: Only Bucy made it to the consi quarters. As a group, it just wasn’t as deep as the others. One of the performances should have been better than it was.

120

1. Englewood — 35.5 points at weight (99.5 overall).
8-7 as a district. Tyrese Germain (2nd) 3-1, Jeremiah Watson 1-2, Shawn Lanier (4th) 4-2, Dalton Deckerhoff 0-2.
Key wins: Germain proved his legitimacy yet again with a fairly-quick pin over another district champion in the semis and going 4-0 in the finals match. Most impressed with Lanier, who beat at least three opponents I would have favored to win during the course of the tournament.

2. Choctawhatchee — 41 points at weight (89 overall).
8-6 as a district. Matthew Burger (1st) 4-0, Robert Wood 2-2, Alex Lovett 2-2, Alex Croaker 0-2.
Key wins: The Chocs cut into the lead with Burger’s title but got decent production from the 2-3 combo as well. I again state here, entirely too many forfeits at this weight. Just no excuse for it, and no excuse for FHSAA not to have a procedure in place to fix it.

3. Leon — 23.5 points at weight (86.5 overall).
6-7 as a district. Austin Wild (3rd) 4-1, Josh Lynch 2-2, Kai Colson (not available) 0-2, Elijah Keselowsky (not available) 0-2.
Key wins: Wild’s third was expected, but Lynch did more than hold his own on the back half of the bracket, with two big wins and a battle with Lanier to get into the consi semi. Two guys not wrestling at all hurt the district in terms of not having the opportunity to score points.

4. Creekside — 15.5 points at weight (74.5 overall).
5-8 as a district. Chad Samples 3-2, Jared Heinrich 1-2, Ralph Hicks 1-2, Jairo Hernandez (not available) 0-2.
Key wins: Samples had the only contested wins for the district. After a nice start, the Creeks have hit a tailspin, with just the one state qualifier so far.

126

1. Choctawhatchee — 44 points at weight (133 overall)
10-6 as a district. Tyler Bradley (2nd) 3-1, Nick Staviski (3rd) 4-1, Eric Altreche 3-2, Aaron Rodriguez 0-2.
Key wins: The Chocs finally move into the lead — although qualifier leader Leon has yet to do so — behind lots of wins on both sides of the bracket. Deepest of the districts at this weight, as evidenced by Staviski and Altreche both winning twice on the back side.

2. Leon — 39 points at weight (125.5 overall).
8-6 as a district. Jon Gardner (1st) 4-0, David Edmunds (4th) 3-2, Austin Sullivan 1-2, Brandon Wine 0-2.
Key wins: A pair of seniors made it through to Lakeland, and that’s how Leon was able to make it back into the top half, after bouncing back and forth between second and third. Tally Lincoln’s schedule was probably the reason why Edmunds was able to hold it together after a semifinal loss to Bradley and still get out.

3. Englewood — 18 points at weight (117.5 overall).
5-8 as a district. Trevor Belden 3-2, Fuhteh Tsai 1-2, Marc Ataiza 1-2, Tristan Tollison 0-2.
Key wins: Talent-wise, Englewood is right there with the Leons, but experience was the difference. Belden was just one point short getting out even as it was. We saw what he could be capable of in the post-season. At the right weight for a full season, Tsai will be OK too.

4. Creekside — 15 points at weight (89.5 overall).
5-8 as a district. David Tyer 2-2, Matt Norton 2-2, Austin Scott 1-2, Blane Stefancik 0-2.
Key wins: Tyer and Norton were each able to pick up a win on the back side, but just ran into more experienced guys. Every one who made it out will be back next year, and better for the experience.

132

1. Leon — 46 points at weight (171.5 overall).
9-6 as a district. Kaleb Warner (1st) 4-0, Winslow Robinson (4th) 3-2, Dexter Melton 1-2, Casey Owens 1-2.
Key wins: Finally, the Leons are in the lead, as the qualifier list predicted they would be. The group picked up a lot of bonus points along the way, and that’s why they were so successful, averaging more than 5 points per win. Robinson was huge, beating two other district champs and going six minutes with a third.

2. Choctawhatchee — 26 points at weight (159 overall).
7-8 as a district. Anthony Krevatas 3-2, Jonah Hooton 2-2, Alexis Rivera 1-2, Robert Frey 0-2.
Key wins: Bit of a hiccup knocked the Choctaws out of first, as none of the four guys were able to get to the semifinals. However, they did get two to the consi semis, where they just ran into either stronger competition or competition on a mission.

3. Englewood — 34 points at weight (151.5 overall).
8-6 as a district. Anthony Hauser (2nd) 3-1, Joey Epstein (3rd) 4-1, Kirtis Davis 1-2, Juwan Lee 0-2.
Key wins: Hauser and Epstein were stalwarts all season, and neither disappointed, as both only lost to Warner (I’m told Hauser was ahead until he was concussed, but I can’t confirm it by having been there). That kept the Engles in fighting position.

4. Creekside — 12 points at weight (101.5 overall).
4-8 as a district. Dayton Gilbert 2-2, Cody Womack 0-2, Matt McMillan 2-2, Dalton Koike 0-2.
Key wins: Although this marked the fourth straight weight without a qualifier, three of the four qualifiers come back next year, and Gilbert should definitely be in the mix for qualifying next season, after completing this year as a district champion.

138

1. Leon — 33 points at weight (204.5 overall).
8-7 as a district. Carlos Evelo 2-2, Dustin Regar (2nd) 3-1, Gavin Hoard 3-2, Aaron Bower 0-2.
Key wins: While Evelo struggled, the Leons got picked up by a solid effort from Regar, who beat two district champions, and from Hoard, who won twice on the back side of the bracket. District starting to show the form predicted by its qualifiers, as it pushed the gap between first and second outward a little bit.

2. Englewood — 46 points at weight (197.5 overall).
10-6 as a district. Travis Neubeck (1st) 4-0, Kevin Herrera 1-2, Tristen Roderick (4th) 4-2, Darien Tucker 1-2.
Key wins: Neubeck’s pinning his way through the bracket helped pile up the points, but so did Roderick, who was quite impressive after losing to Regar in the first round. He got into Lakeland the most impressive way — winning four matches on the back side, and nearly made it five in the third-place match.

3. Choctawhatchee — 28 points at weight (187 overall).
7-7 as a district. Daniel Keely 2-2, Chase Blake (3rd) 4-1, Anthony Raheem 1-2, Austin Salmi 0-2.
Key wins: Blake proved he might have been the best of the district, losing only to Neubeck, and Keely only lost on the front end to Regar before not being available to wrestle Saturday.

4. Creekside — 11 points at weight (112.5 overall).
3-8 as a district. Troy Magnuson 2-2, Ryan Baker 1-2, Charlie Miller 0-2, Henry Velasquez 0-2.
Key wins: I thought Magnuson might have been in the mix to get out, but he ran into the Regar buzzsaw after making the semis and then hit Roderick in the middle of his mission. Five weights without a qualifier, though — it’s a very uphill battle heading to the halfway point.

145

1. Leon — 52 points at weight (256.5 overall).
11-5 as a district. Matt Tamayo (1st) 4-0, Jake Maguire (3rd) 5-1, Kel Davis 3-2, Gable Hoard (not available) 0-2.
Key wins: Uh oh. LEONS. They’re starting to pull away at the halfway point. While I’ll miss not being able to cover Tamayo as an area kid next year, Maguire did a lot on the back end after losing to the runnerup in the quarters. Davis also had a good tournament, only getting knocked out by Maguire.

2. Choctawhatchee — 26 points at weight (213 overall).
6-7 as a district. Blake Doerr (2nd) 3-1, Blake Tressler 1-2, Kaleb Perez 2-2, Matthew Weesner 0-2.
Key wins: The Choctaws popped back up into second mainly on Doerr’s strength, going 6-3 with Tamayo in the final, but Perez helped out by reaching the semis as well.

3. Englewood — 15 points at weight (212.5 overall).
6-8 as a district. Nicholas Stiles (not available) 0-2, Tony Belle 2-2, Keath Sawdo 3-2, Shaqur Lampkins 1-2.
Key wins: The Engles would certainly have done better with a healthy Stiles, who was hurt at districts. You can guess that from everyone else’s performance, as the district still had six wins. All six of the wins came on the back side. Three come back next season, so some good things should be ahead.

4. Creekside — 14 points at weight (126.5 overall).
4-8 as a district. Jared Langdo (4th) 3-2, Justin Gross 1-2, Zach Gregory 0-2, Nathan Pooler 0-2.
Key wins: Finally, another Lakeland qualifier for the Creeks. Langdo didn’t have a lot of help from his district mates, though, as the group had just one forfeit win other than Langdo’s wins.

152

1. Leon — 55 points at weight (311.5 overall).
11-6 as a district. Tristan Sommer (1st) 4-0, Marcellus Boyd (4th) 3-2, Austin Chapman 3-2, Angelo Markantonakis 1-2.
Key wins: Sommer dominated, as we would have expected, but Boyd made the semis and Chapman won three matches on the backside after losing in round 1 by forfeit. Is it over? Is the fat lady singing?

2. Choctawhatchee — 45 points at weight (258 overall).
10-7 as a district. Forrest Lang (3rd) 4-1, Luca Spinoso 3-2, Caleb Homa 2-2, John Bishop 1-2.
Key wins: Not so fast, my friends. Lang had only a bad draw separate him from the finals — he was the only one able to go a full six with Sommer — and Spinoso also had a good tournament.

3. Englewood — 28 points at weight (240.5 overall).
7-7 as a district. Mitchell Harris (2nd) 3-1, Andre Carter 1-2, JT Davie 1-2, John Blizzard 2-2.
Key wins: The district did pretty well, on the whole, staying fairly competitive in the hunt for second, with everyone collecting wins. We’ll see how Carter does next year — he’s the only non-senior who qualified.

4. Creekside — 0 points at weight (126.5 overall).
0-8 as a district. Colin Peaks 0-2, Zach Tillman 0-2, Conor Griffin 0-2, Eddy Leon de la Cruz 0-2.
Key wins: Well…there weren’t any. And I’m kind of stunned about that. Three of the four have another chance next year. But it makes even second place in a competition like this look like a herculean challenge.

160

1. Leon — 42.5 points at weight (354 overall).
9-5 as a district. Kevin Hilton (1st) 4-0, Jaycie Rudd (2nd) 3-1, Malcolm Clemmons 2-2, Josh Rodgers 0-2.
Key wins: That’s three consecutive weights with the most points in the weight class. Can we crown the Leons yet? Can we? Especially when you get a 1-2…it’s a big move.

2. Choctawhatchee — 22 points at weight (280 overall).
6-7 as a district. Joseph Cambron (3rd) 4-1, Hunter Clayton 2-2, Hunter Applegate 0-2, Ryan Wallace 0-2.
Key wins: Cambron did most of the heavy lifting, but the Choctaws still managed well enough to stay in second, even if they lost another 20 points to the Leons.

3. Englewood — 20 points at weight (260.5 overall).
7-8 as a district. Skyler Taylor 3-2, Sergio Jordan 3-2, Lucas Karl 1-2, Justin Griffis 0-2.
Key wins: Am looking forward to seeing what all four guys do next year, as all return. Taylor and Jordan lost to the eventual finalists in the quarters, and then both won twice on the back side.

4. Creekside — 23.5 points at weight (150 overall).
6-8 as a district. Tristen Barth (4th) 3-2, Stacy Murray 1-2, John Wilson 1-2, Michael Swain 1-2.
Key wins: I really didn’t know what to expect from Barth, as the one time I saw him wrestle up close was in a one-sided matchup. This was the weekend I became a believer. He went 4-2 with Hilton in the semis, and I’ve sung Hilton’s praises several times. And he became the first non-Creekside 2014 state qualifier  from the district (at least in this inquiry — there might have been other qualifiers who punched their tickets a little sooner, in fact we’ll see one in the next weight).

170

1. Leon — 32 points at weight (386 overall).
8-8 as a district. Jerrin Gilmore (4th) 4-2, Jordan Nash 2-2, Nathan Meth 2-2, Riley McGill 0-2.
Key wins: Gilmore had a pretty good tournament, losing only in the quarters to the eventual region champion, and Meth had a nice tournament — I didn’t expect him to pick up a championship-side win.

2. Choctawhatchee — 41 points at weight (321 overall).
9-6 as a district. Chase Schoener 2-2, Shamar Johnson (1st) 4-0, Clay Witt 3-2, Cody Dixon 0-2.
Key wins: Can’t fault Schoener, he got to the semis and another district champion, but Johnson had a phenomenal run to the region title, beating two district champs along the way. And Witt won three times on the back side before running into a guy he’d lost to in rd 1.

3. Englewood — 9 points at weight (269.5 overall).
3-8 as a district. Frank Waters 1-2, Jessie Pafford 1-2, Josh Detrick 1-2, Joseph Garcia 0-2.
Key wins: Might take second place out of the equation. This was more of a struggle for the Engles than I thought it might be. I expect we’ll see Detrick and Garcia back a couple of times.

4. Creekside — 36 points at weight (186 overall).
8-6 as a district. Clayton Dennis (2nd) 3-1, William Rinchiusa (3rd) 4-1, Dakota Cody 1-2, Jason Geiger 0-2.
Key wins: Not surprised that Dennis and Rinchiusa made it out, and that they did most of the heavy lifting, and that they could, theoretically, help keep the Creeks in a battle for third.

182

1. Leon — 12 points at weight (398 overall).
3-8 as a district. Brandon Johnson 2-2, Christian Thompson 1-2, Robert Williams 1-2. Bye 0-2.
Key wins: Um, uh oh. The one thing that could hurt the Leons would be numbers (just five in the district); makes things difficult when you’re three-against-four. The Leons had two wins on the front side, both forfeits, and only won once in a contested match. Uh oh.

2. Choctawhatchee — 50 points at weight (371 overall).
11-5 as a district. Will Diamond (1st) 4-0, Avery Sisson (2nd) 3-1, Harley Meyer 3-2, Brian Haynes 1-2.
Key wins: Consider the battle for first re-joined by the Choctaws. Sisson really made this possible, with a quarterfinal win over Johnson, and Meyer had three wins on the backside, almost making it out.

3. Englewood — 14 points at weight (283.5 overall).
4-8 as a district. Jonathan Shoen 3-2, Barry Pierre 1-2, Chase Lasater (not available) 0-2, Ashton Haris (not available) 0-2.
Key wins: Two not availables makes it hard to score, and while Shoen pulled it together after what could only be called a wild match leading to an upset in the quarters, what he’ll do in the next two years should be really interesting.

4. Creekside — 43 points at weight (229 overall).
10-7 as a district. Jeremy Beaulieu (3rd) 4-1, Jordin Castanheira (4th) 3-2, Brandon Alexanian 2-2, Xavier Jones 1-2.
Key wins: Beaulieu pinned everybody but the region champ and Castanheira had a great tournament in reaching the semis with his wild-match-upset win over Shoen, plus the second of two tight wins over Meyer to punch his ticket for Lakeland.

195

1. Leon — 30 points at weight (428 overall).
8-7 as a district. Lucus Bradley 2-2, Fred Saliba (3rd) 5-1, Robert Norton 1-2. Bye 0-2.
Key wins: Better, even with the bye, mainly because of Saliba. Got to hand it to him. After being pinned in the quarters, he went out and won four times, including wins over the guy who beat him at districts and the guy who beat him the day before. That’s what being a senior and knowing it’s your last shot can mean sometimes.

2. Choctawhatchee — 46 points at weight (417 overall).
8-5 as a district. Chris Nash (1st) 4-0, Brendan McClendon (2nd) 3-1, Michael Zimmerman 1-2, Dylan Blackmon 0-2.
Key wins: The Choctaws are making a huge late push. A 1-2 can help make up a lot of ground, particularly when they add five pins into the mix. It’s officially too close to call — for the first time in a long while.

3. Englewood — 19 points at weight (302.5 overall).
4-8 as a district. Chasen Irvine (4th) 3-2, Xavier Nieves 0-2, Robert Smith 1-2, David Thompson 0-2.
Key wins: Third place is by no means a sure thing for the Engles. After Irvine’s wins, the only win was on the back side against the bye. Makes it tough as a group.

4. Creekside — 26 points at weight (255 overall).
8-8 as a district. Gus Fischer 2-2, Maverick Dennis 2-2, Hayden Good 3-2, Courtney Johnson 1-2.
Key wins: I thought this group would have pushed Englewood’s a little harder in terms of points, maybe even finished ahead of the Leons, but they got plenty of wins. I don’t know the Bartram kids too well yet, and I understand how big football is there, but I wish Good would give wrestling a full season’s shot. Think he would have qualified for Lakeland. He still can next year.

220

1. Choctawhatchee — 41 points at weight (458 overall).
10-7 as a district. Tres’ Dawson (3rd) 4-1, Cody Leonard 2-2, Mycah Sutton 3-2, Matt Hardy 1-2.
Key wins: Dawson only lost to the eventual region champ and Leonard won twice (both with two extra bonus points each), but Sutton really helped, with three wins on the back side. It will come down to the heavies.

2. Leon — 14 points at weight (442 overall).
3-7 as a district. Jason Osagie (2nd) 3-1. 3 byes, all at 0-2.
Key wins: Obviously, Osagie’s were all key. But he couldn’t have prevented the Choctaws from taking over. I said, teasingly, the hardest he got pushed at districts was by 285-pound teammate Damian Loggins while waiting to weigh in. Being the only guy from the district meant all eyes on him and he did well. He could have used some help for this kind of “contest,” though.

3. Englewood — 47 points at weight (349.5 overall).
10-6 as a district. Devon Brooks (1st) 4-0, Kerry Hardine 3-2, Avery Wilds 2-2, Alex Richardson 1-2.
Key wins: The Engles are too far back to put a charge into second, but they did well here at this weight, as Brooks got bonus points three times en route to his title and Hardine won three matches by fall. He’ll have learned a lot from this after being one match short of state. Wilds, too, picked up a couple of wins.

4. Creekside — 24 points at weight (279 overall).
5-8 as a district. Rafael Lopez (4th) 3-2, Gregorio Torres 1-2, Matt Arnett 1-2, Matt Mechley 0-2.
Key wins: Lopez did his job, giving good enough effort against Osagie in the semi, and then punching his ticket to Lakeland with a decisive fall in the consi semis, but he didn’t get enough help from the rest of the Creeks.

285

1. Choctawhatchee — 31 points at weight (489 overall).
8-8 as a district. David Dubois 2-2, Joseph Pearson 3-2, Austin Vu 1-2, Harrison Kase 2-2.
Key wins: No qualifiers, but with the most of the firepower concentrated around the Matmen area, all the Choctaws had to do was hold serve and they would win, which they did. Impressed with Pearson, who went 8-6 with Creekside’s Cole Eubanks and 7-5 with Orange Park’s Christian Tejada. He’ll be a guy to watch as a sophomore.

2. Leon — 14 points at weight (456 overall).
4-8 as a district. Loggins 3-2, Marcus Zeighler 0-2, Gabe Beyer 1-2, David Musselwhite 0-2.
Key wins: Loggins did decently, getting to the consi semis, but the Matmen guys were too much, and I was surprised by that. Same, too, for Zeighler, who should be much better next year if he can be healthy in January. I think the time away was a bit of a problem.

3. Englewood — 63 points at weight (412.5 overall).
12-4 as a district. Malcolm Kirce (1st) 4-0, Tejada (3rd) 4-1, Kelton Johnson (2nd) 3-1, Demetris Harris 1-2.
Key wins: This is about as good as a district can do short of sweeping the qualifiers, and the Engles still took the top 3 slots. A big majority of the wins came with bonus points. Good sendoff for eventual medalists Kirce and Tejada, a showing of the future for Johnson and Harris had a win with bonus points.

4. Creekside — 17 points at weight (296 overall).
4-8 as a district. Eubanks (4th) 3-2, Jessy Moseley 1-2, William Lynch 0-2, Taylor Montroy 0-2.
Key wins: Again, not enough of them after the champ, usually. While a couple of weights did well, there wasn’t enough depth in the district to challenge in this kind of a format.

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District Picks, Part 2A-3: The Search For Rock

Good morning and welcome to the daytime edition of R or S: The District Picks. We continue our look at the 2A selections — since most of those kids either are or should be on the road in Tally right now — with a gander at 2A-3.

106 — My picks: Rossetti 1, Evans 2, Brown-Durham 3-4. How it panned out: Rossetti 1, Evans 2, Rice of OP 3, Durham 4. As I said, Brown could move to 113, and did. But Rice was motivated a bit. So this one rocked to a degree, but a small miss.

113 — With the caveat that Watson could have been at 120, I did pick Reid 1, Griffin 2, Brown in the 3-4 mix with Johns of Ed White. This time, it was Hammock who emerged out for third, but the 1-2 was correct again. Rocked, to a degree.

120 — My pick: Watson 1 decisively, Callaway of Ed White 2, Germain 3 and then Oakleaf battling for fourth. Germain, decisively, had other ideas, winning the bracket outright. Callaway didn’t wrestle, which pushed Lanier of Oakleaf to 3rd and Terry Parker’s Dalton Deckerhoff at 4. Sometimes your picks suck because you don’t know who isn’t going to compete. That being said, it still did.

126 — My pick: Holmes of Ed White (but I did say I had hoped he’d be here), Belden 2, Tsai and Oakleaf going 3-4. With Holmes NOT being here, had I known that, I would have moved Belden up for 1 and still been a tossup for 2-3. Tsai went 2 and Ataiza 3, so that held up, and I did say Tollison would be in the mix. So, the pick was a mixed bag in the absence of perfect information: kind of rocked, kind of sucked.

132 — My pick: Hauser 1, Epstein 2, Lee 3, Langford 4. Now, I knew already that Davis of OP was going 32, but I couldn’t really pick that way because I don’t want to let inside information alter my picks. I would have gone Davis at 4 if he’d been there before District Week. As it turned out due to injury Davis was 3 and Lee 4. If he can go, Lee might make some district champ’s life tough today. So this pick mostly rocked.

138 — My pick: Neubeck 1, Herrera 2, Roderick 3, Tucker 4. That’s how it went down, although Neubeck didn’t have to crank up his high motor to beat Herrera, who had to I-D out of the final. I hope he goes at near 100 percent today. There’ll not be a lot of Duval kids at Lakeland, and Herrera should have been one of them. This pick rocked.

145 — My pick: Stiles 1, Sawdo-Phillips 2-3, Malcolm 4. Got the first one right, but I completely whiffed on Tony Belle. He should have been in at the 145 projection, and I missed it. Sawdo wound up third and Lampkins, who I mentioned in the battle for fourth, got the final qualifying spot. I have to say this one sucked, because a guy good enough to go didn’t even get mentioned. That’s on me.

152 — My pick: Harris 1, Carter 2, Davie 3, Blizzard 4. How it went down: Harris 1, Carter 2, Davie 3, Blizzard 4. Rocked. But that last one still smarts. The fact that it was late and I was tired is no excuse.

160 — My pick: Taylor 1, Jordan 2, Nou-Karl 3-4. How it went down: Taylor 1, Jordan 2, Nou didn’t wrestle, with Karl 3rd and Griffis 4th. I had thought Griffis would be at 52. It was better, ultimately, for him to move up, and with the foursome at 52, I don’t blame him for moving. This pick rocked at the top, sucked on the back end.

170 — My pick: Waters 1, Ayres 2 (if he was in lineup), Detrick 3, Gibson 4, with the hope of seeing Pafford somehow get out. Waters won, Ayres was in fact not wrestling and Pafford pushed his way through to the final, so he got out. Detrick was third and Gibson didn’t wrestle, either. In a perfect world, I know the statuses (statusi?) of every wrestler, but I did get it half right. Rocked and sucked.

182 — My pick: Shoen 1, Lasater 2, Harris 3, Pierre 4. How it actually panned out: Right four, wrong order. Shoen 1, Pierre 2, Lasater 3, Harris 4. Pierre handled Harris in the semi instead of in the third-place match, while Lasater got slotted into the top half with Shoen. Kind of sucked, in a rockish sort of way. Think Winger. Another 80s hair metal band.

195 — My pick: Irvine 1, Nieves 2, Meda 3, Smith 4. How it actually panned out: Irvine and Nieves went 1-2 as expected, Thompson took my slight edge that I gave to Meda, and hammered Meda with it in the consi semis, leading to Smith 3, Thompson 4. Well done to David Thompson. So this rocked at the top, with a bit of a mess at the back end.

220 — My pick: Brooks 1, Hardine 2, Wilds 3, Richardson-Horner in 4 mix. How it actually panned out: Brooks-Hardine-Wilds 1-3, Richardson had to contend with Meeks of Middleburg at 220 rather than the Bronco being up at 285, for fourth. But this pick mostly rocked.

285 — My pick: Kirce 1, Tejada 2, Johnson 3, and “it will be interesting” (since Meeks was at 220) for 4. 1-2-3 went as planned and Interesting, I mean Lee’s Demetris Harris, wound up 4th. So that pick rocked for the most part as well.

No super-slam dunks, but an OK job. Not a terribly great effort considering I made everyone wait until Friday for this one.

Picks that rocked: 9 1/2

Picks that sucked: 4 1/2

Inexcusable whiffs: 1. Dude. Tony Belle, I sincerely hope you get to Lakeland.

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2A-3 District Notebook: Clay County Teams Find Ways To Shine

By Shannon Heaton, Northeast Florida Matmen

The overall color of the 2A-District 3 tournament Saturday was decidedly orange-and-black.

But as far as the feel of the tournament went, it was (almost) all about Clay County, as Clay teams won 13 individual titles and swept the top four team positions Saturday at Englewood.

“We just need a lot more confidence,” Middleburg 106-pounder Dylan Rossetti said after his title win over Ed White’s Roderick Evans, one of three Bronco titles on the day.

“Some of our guys haven’t been confident enough. We have gotten better since the beginning of the season. We’ve come along really well and gotten along really well. We need a lot more mat time too.”

Middleburg looked solid enough on Saturday, finishing second with 110 points. The Broncos moved eight wrestlers to Friday’s 2A-Region 1 meet at Tallahassee Chiles.

Along with Rossetti, Travis Neubeck (138) and Jonathan Shoen (182) each were victorious.

Shoen pinned Terry Parker’s Barry Pierre in 3 minutes and 21 seconds to win his championship after winning by fall earlier in the day.

“I do a crab over, I pin all my people with it,” Shoen said. “Not a lot of people use it, but it works.

“I know that I need to work on neutral (positions). That’s what I need. Just everything. There’s a little bit of everything that I need to work on.”

Neubeck has a little bit of everything in his arsenal of offense, but couldn’t unleash any of it in the 138 final against Englewood’s Kevin Herrera, who was forced to injury-default after a severe injury under his left eye left him unable to see.

Losing only one senior in region qualifier JT Davie (152), the Broncos have a bright future ahead of them again next season.

“Next year, maybe, we can compete with (teams like Clay and Fleming Island) and be at our best,” Neubeck said. “We were much more competitive this season. We’ve gotten used to new coaches and we’ve had lots of guys who have worked 100 percent and didn’t give up.”

Oakleaf had just one champion in 132-pound Anthony Hauser, who won his second district title on Saturday, but the Knights still finished third with 97.5 points, qualifying eight for region.

Hauser won his title over familiar rival and friend Joey Epstein of Ridgeview, 11-4, acknowledging that it’s difficult to wrestle a friend. Sometimes.

“It’s hard to get serious before we wrestle, but once the whistle blows, it’s serious. He knows everything I’m going to do and I know everything he’s going to do,” Hauser said. “We’ve wrestled so many times. I just have to hit my moves first. I have to keep my confidence up.”

Ridgeview was fourth with 76 points and five region qualifiers, including two champions in Trevor Belden (126) and Malcolm Kirce (285).

Kirce maintained his status as the Northeast Florida Matmen area’s only undefeated wrestler, getting a takedown late after scoring the first point against Orange Park’s Christian Tejada, going on for a 3-1 decision.

“He got his elbows up so I just got into him and circled around, something really basic, nothing over the top,” Kirce said of the takedown. “Having the undefeated thing is a great target on my back, especially with region coming up. I’m sure Lincoln’s heavyweight is practicing real hard to try to get me.”

Belden needed just 1 minute and 47 seconds to pin his way through at 126, taking out the Raiders’ Fuhteh Tsai in the final.

“So far this season, I hadn’t won a tournament. I was tired of being second-best,” Belden said. “I wanted to be the first, the best. Coming here from Camden (County, in Georgia, where he was a backup), this is the first year I’ve had going to any big matches. I feel pretty happy with that, but I hope to go farther.”

It was a tough day for Duval County 2A wrestlers, even for the one that won.

Ed White was the top team, taking fifth one point behind Ridgeview (75 points) and advancing six to region, though 132-pound Juwan Lee reinjured his ankle — hurt at Gateway two weeks ago — during his third-place match.

Terry Parker was sixth with 51 points and five regional qualifiers, while the host Rams were seventh with 57 points and six qualifiers.

Stanton did have Duval County’s only 2A champion in Nicholas Stiles, but he had to have his right shoulder taped up and left the gym immediately after being slammed by Lee’s Tony Belle in the 145-pound final, winning by disqualification.

The Blue Devils had three regional qualifiers and 44 points, with Lee also advancing three and scoring 31.5 points.

A complete list of region qualifiers is found elsewhere on the home page of the site. Tallahassee Chiles region pairings will be published when available.

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2A-District 3 Preview

2A-District 3 meet preview

When & where: Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at Englewood High School, located due northeast of University Avenue and & I-95. Finals are to be determined per the FHSAA website.

Teams in the field: Headlining the field is co-#3 Orange Park, which took its lumps in early-season competitions in order to prepare for the post-season. The Raiders’ strongest challenge is likely to come from fellow Clay County opponents Middleburg and Oakleaf, but honorable mention Ed White should perform well. Terry Parker finished the regular season with its strongest effort of the year, taking fourth in its own 14-team dual tournament. Englewood, Lee and Stanton may struggle for team points, but will have a chance to qualify a few individuals out for region next week in Tallahassee.

We’ll do this like we did last night, starting with what we know and what we think and then make projections from there.

106 — I do not see a 106 for Oakleaf or Stanton. I expect the following wrestlers to compete: Roderick Evans for Ed White, either Toni McDonald or Archie Brown for Englewood, Dylan Rossetti for Middleburg, Brandon Rice for Orange Park, possibly Aaron Craun for Ridgeview, Ivory Durham for Lee and Chris Walker for Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Rossetti to be the district champion. Rossetti would certainly have been ranked during the regular season if we had received all results for the Broncos, and he’s right there in the mix for a top-3 spot, maybe even the #1. I don’t think the field will be too much for him this weekend. I would expect to see Evans in the final along with Rossetti. Evans was the runnerup at Gateway, and has had several positive tournament experiences, but he did struggle at Clay Rotary. If Brown is at 106, I would probably go with him and Durham 3-4; if not, then I would go with Durham and Walker moving on to next week.

113 — I do not see a 113 for Lee, Stanton or Terry Parker. I expect the following wrestlers to compete: Kevin Johns for Ed White, either McDonald or Brown for Englewood, Robert Hammock for Middleburg, Chris Griffin for Oakleaf, Marcus Reid for Orange Park (10th statewide) and either Harmen Scareman-Stoops (more likely) or Jeremiah Watson for Ridgeview (15th statewide at 120). Based on what I’ve seen, I would project…a conditional pick. If Watson is here, I think I would go with Watson in a tight match over Reid to be the district champion. If Watson is at 120, as appears to be more likely, then I would take Reid decisively to be the district champion. Ridgeview’s lineup worked best for duals with Watson down at this weight, but with his frame, it had to be a tough slog to make 13. What that means is that it’s likely that Justin Trinh won’t wrestle 20 as he has for the Panthers in dual meets this year. Watson-Reid would be a great final. Not as sure about Reid-Griffin, as I only have five of Griffin’s matches, but he did beat Tristen Lucessi of Nease at Orange Park, so he can compete. I would see Brown battling for third and fourth, possibly Johns in the mix too if Watson is at 120.

120 — I do not see a 120 for Lee and possibly not for Middleburg. I expect the following wrestlers to compete: Chase Callaway for Ed White, either Jonathan Galeas or Tanner Kern for Englewood, (if anyone) Michael Pratt for Middleburg, either Luke Simons or Marc Ataiza for Oakleaf, Tyrese Germain for Orange Park, Watson or Trinh for Ridgeview, Justin Cowell for Stanton and Dalton Deckerhoff for Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I would pick Watson decisively to be the district champion if he’s at this weight and either Callaway or Germain if Watson is not here. Watson is a fun wrestler to watch with his length and leverage advantages. I would see him being in substantial control of this weight class on Saturday. I have not seen much of Germain this year, but Callaway surprised and impressed me at Gateway. He had eventual champion Brandon Bemister mostly beaten until he had no answer for Bemister’s jiujitsu-influenced style late in the title match. The Oakleaf entry will contend, either way, for 3-4, as would Trinh if he’s here.

126 — I do not see a 126 for Lee or Terry Parker. I expect the following wrestlers to compete: Armond Holmes of Ed White (if healthy, he’s been out for quite a while), either Galeas or Kern for Englewood, Tristan Tollison for Middleburg, either Ataiza or Riggs Wolf for Oakleaf, Fuhteh Tsai for Orange Park, either Trevor Belden (most likely) or Nick Robinson for Ridgeview and Stephen Hlawnchhing for Stanton. Based on what I’ve seen this season, if all are healthy, I would project Holmes (15th statewide) as the district champion, but only after a hard-fought match with Belden in the finals. Holmes and Belden went 10-6 during the season, in the finals at Optimist two months ago, and it had its back-and-forth moments before Holmes seized control down the stretch. I just hope he’s healthy enough to go. Oakleaf’s entry and Tsai should battle for third. Tsai has spent quite a bit of time at 132 to help the team this year, which has been a stretch for him. Tollison is a bit of a wild card possibility to advance, but he could be in the mix.

132 — I do not see a 132 for Englewood or Lee. I expect the following wrestlers to compete: Juwan Lee of Ed White, Tyler Langford of Middleburg, Anthony Hauser of Oakleaf (8th statewide), Joey Epstein of Ridgeview (11th statewide), Jacob Cowell of Stanton and Jessica Gardepe of Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I project Hauser as the district champion. Hauser might sometimes get overlooked in this crazy-deep weight class, but he’s the fourth-highest ranked wrestler among all 2A local competitors at all weights. It’s going to be a rematch among friends in the final, as Hauser should face Epstein. But Lee is a very solid third; hopefully he’ll be able to get through without jeopardizing his hurt ankle, sustained at Gateway two weeks ago. I think Langford might be the best of the rest to take fourth and move on to region next week.

138 — I do not see a 138 for Lee or Terry Parker. I would expect the following wrestlers to compete: Darien Tucker for Ed White, Kevin Herrera for Englewood, Travis Neubeck for Middleburg (12th statewide), Tristen Roderick for Oakleaf, Jordan Harbin for Orange Park, Mark Coaxum for Ridgeview and Josh Briones for Stanton. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Neubeck as the district champion. He can get over-aggressive at times, but when he’s on he’s incredibly difficult to defeat. I like guys who wrestle with a high motor, and Neubeck’s is always cranked over. He’s got a ptetty solid field, actually, to contend with, what with Tucker, Herrera, Roderick and Coaxum all here. Somebody’s not going to get to compete next week. I don’t think it will be Herrera, who also has something to prove after not taking home a Gateway title. Tucker has been consistent all year, Roderick seems very comfortable at 138 after starting the year at 126, and Coaxum has had some good matches. This will be a solid foursome going to Tallahassee, whoever winds up going.

145 — I do not see a 145 for possibly Ridgeview. I would expect the following wrestlers to compete: Devonta Malcolm for Ed White, Tavian Whitehead for Englewood, Keath Sawdo for Middleburg, Rachael Kreier or (possibly) Cole Benson for Oakleaf, Demetruis Phillips for Orange Park, Nicholas Stiles for Stanton (16th statewide) and Shaqur Lampkins for Terry Parker. It’s possible that Chase Gold may appear here for Ridgeview. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Stiles as the district champion. I was surprised, to be sure, when Stiles was pinned in the finals of the Gateway, and the first thing I thought was, “Competition.” His opponent had seen more of it. I suspect Stiles, who is by far Stanton’s best wrestler, will be ready for the varying looks he’ll see Saturday. I think it is most likely to see either Sawdo or Phillips in the final. Both are solid wrestlers and have had good seasons. Sawdo would have been in the rankings mix at 145, or right near it, and Phillips is talented. I think Malcolm and Lampkins, or Benson if he’s here, will battle it out for the final qualifying spot.

152 — I would expect the following wrestlers to compete: Darius Martin for Ed White, Justin Griffis for Englewood, JT Davie for Middleburg, Andre Carter for Oakleaf, Mitchell Harris of Orange Park (11th statewide), John Blizzard for Stanton and Samary Duncombe for Terry Parker. Pretty deep field, but based on what I’ve seen, I would project Harris as the solid to heavy favorite to win the district. Harris is crazy quick and strong, and can string together moves really quickly for an upper-middleweight. I think he will have a reasonably easy go of it, even in this deep field. I have to think he will be facing Carter in the final, but it could also be Davie, as those two went 5-4 with Carter winning earlier in the season. Davie benefited so much from dropping down from 160, where he had a bit of a strength disadvantage. Carter and Davie and Blizzard are the choices for 2-4, and it’s going to be another very solid field going on to Tallahassee. Davie and Carter could be a great semifinal to watch.

160 — I expect a full nine-man bracket with the following wrestlers competing: Sergio Jordan of Ed White, Hosea Jones of Englewood, John Rance or Cody Eastwood of Middleburg, Lucas Karl of Oakleaf, Skyler Taylor of Orange Park (14th statewide), Marcus Gomez of Ridgeview, David Worrell-Johnson of Lee, Sothea Nou of Stanton and Keaun Watts of Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I project Taylor as the solid favorite to become the district champion. Taylor’s drop to 160 has only helped the Raiders, and it’s helped him. He didn’t start the year expected to be a star for Orange Park, but he has been one this year. It should be an interesting three-way battle for second through fourth beetween Jordan, Nou and Karl. I would give tne nod at this point to Jordan. Gomez hasn’t had a lot of matches for the Panthers, but he could be in the mix for the top four.

170 — I do not see a 170 for Lee. I do expect the following wrestlers to compete: Andrew Holdman for Ed White, Joseph Garcia for Englewood, either David Ayres (more likely) or Eastwood for Middleburg, Josh Detrick for Oakleaf, Frank Waters for Orange Park (11th statewide), DJ Gibson for Ridgeview, Sean Mangum for Stanton and Jessie Pafford for Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Waters as the solid favorite to become the district champion. I wish I could have seen a full season out of Waters; I’m sure he and the Raiders would concur with that. It’s a sneaky-deep field, this one. I think he’d be most likely to face Ayres, if he’s here. Ayres has been state-ranked himself during the course of the season. Detrick and Gibson have both had some good wins and solid seasons for their teams, and Pafford is the Braves’ team leader. I’d like to see him get out as well. It’s going to be a very competitive quartet that goes to Tallahassee next week.

182 — I do not see a 182 for Ridgeview or Stanton. I would expect the following wrestlers to compete:Bianca Lumsden or Juliet Medina for Ed White, Ashton Harris for Englewood, Jonathan Shoen for Middleburg (15th statewide), Sean Tairovski-Romeu for Oakleaf, Chase Lasater for Orange Park, possibly (it’s been a while) Tyrone Williams for Lee and Barry Pierre of Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Shoen as the solid favorite to be the district champion. Shoen is another Middleburg who would have been ranked except for those dadgum results. He’s beaten some pretty solid wrestlers during the course of the year. Now’s his chance to shine on a brighter stage. I would expect an all-Clay final between Shoen and Lasater, who’s a big freshman with a nice frame. He will be a monster in a couple of years. I would take Harris over Pierre for third in this group. It’s a pretty well-defined foursome. Tairovski-Romeu would have to pull an upset to advance.

195 — I do not see a 195 for Oakleaf, Lee or Stanton, making this a six-person bracket. I would expect the following wrestlers to compete: Atyrus McDonald or Lumsden for Ed White, Xavier Nieves for Englewood, David Thompson for Middleburg, Chasen Irvine for Orange Park, Robert Smith for Ridgeview and Andy Meda of Terry Parker. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Irvine as the heavy favorite to become the district champion. With the small bracket, tests by competition are going to be key, as only one or two matches will make a district titlist. Irvine has improved a great deal since the beginning of the season, and should show off that improvement Saturday. I would expect Nieves to make the final as well. Was hoping to see how he’d do at Gateway, but he didn’t wrestle on the second day. In a one-day tournament, he should do better. He’s got a good frame. Meda has a slight edge over Smith and Thompson for the third spot, but it could go for any of them. A healthy McDonald, if he’s here, could take third as well.

220 — I do not see a 220 for Oakleaf, possibly Middleburg or Lee as well. I would expect the following wrestlers to compete: Avery Wilds for Ed White, Nicholas Wiggins for Englewood, Devon Brooks for Orange Park (7th statewide), Jarek Horner for Ridgeview, Alex Richardson for Stanton and Kerry Hardine for Terry Parker (16th statewide). I’m not as sure about Middleburg or Lee. Ammon Meeks will be either at this weight or 285 for the Broncos, while Lee did have Nicholas Woodward for a few matches, and he was very good, but we haven’t seen him since December. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project Brooks as the overwhelming favorite to win the weight class. Brooks has been very good all season for the Raiders and should be a medalist threat once again even after dropping down from 285, where he was fifth at state. I don’t think he’ll face anybody besides Hardine in the title match. I would see Wilds as the choice for third, and a battle for fourth between an improving Richardson and Horner for the fourth spot.

285 — I do not see a 285 for Stanton, possibly Middleburg or Oakleaf as well. I would expect the following wrestlers to compete: Kelton Johnson for Ed White, Eric Hill for Englewood, Christian Tejada for Orange Park (11th statewide), Malcolm Kirce for Ridgeview (4th statewide), Demetris Harris for Lee and Demetris Hembert for Terry Parker. I’m not as sure about Middleburg, because Meeks — who would certainly have a good shot at moving on at 220 — might be there, and Oakleaf had a 285 in Joseph Prieto to start the year, but he hasn’t wrestled for several weeks. Based on what I’ve seen, I would project a helluva match between Kirce and Tejada in the final, with Kirce taking the district championship. That will be a great match for both of them, who have excellent shots to podium in two weeks. I would expect Johnson to be the solid choice for third in this field, learning a lot behind the two seniors. If Meeks is here, he would be looking at fourth, but it would probably be his to have; if he’s at 220, it will be interesting to see who makes it to the third-place match.

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Gateway Conference Preview

I have a few thoughts on the Gateway, which starts up today about 1 p.m. at First Coast High, which — sadly — is about as far from my house as it’s possible to get in the Gateway Conference. But no matter. We will be there on Saturday, and we will interview every Gateway Conference champion while on site. Could make things interesting between live-tweets and interviews.

Team: I really couldn’t pick a favorite. The host Buccaneers are a team truly on the move after a slow start. Ed White doesn’t have a lot of holes in the lineup. Fletcher has the tradition and still quite a few horses in the stable. For energy at a tournament, Sandalwood might have the loudest fan base and they’re a team on the way up. Mandarin seems to have found some rhythm this year, but also have had some mis-steps as any emerging program would. With a couple more kids in the lineup, Atlantic Coast could become a very frightening opponent. Forrest shone early and we’ll see if the Rebels can right the ship this weekend. Each of these teams have had moments in 2013-14. This weekend is the time to determine which one of them wants to break out and create more than just a moment, but a program that can compete not only with the local elites, but statewide as well.

Here’s a weight-class-by-weight-class brief look in, with a “safe pick” at each weight (which will be the highest-ranking Gateway wrestler) but also somebody who might or might not be on the honorable mention lists. Somebody I have been watching all year, and maybe worthy of you watching them too:

106 — Safe pick: Roderick Evans, Ed White. Won the Optimist Invitational in December, but struggled out at Clay, as many of the Commanders did, going 0-2. Wrestler to watch: There are only a few 106s in the Gateway, but don’t sleep on Jaques Hale of Sandalwood. He’s done what few Gateway kids have done — left the area to wrestle some elites. That might help this weekend.

113 — Safe pick: Erik Sirmans, first Coast. Safe if he makes and holds weight, which he did not do at Green Cove Springs but did at Army Duals. Four of his five losses were at 120 and the fifth was not to a Gateway wrestler. Wrestler to watch: Alex Barie, also of Sandalwood. Barie beat Sirmans early in the season at Fleming Island’s Keystone Duals, when both were at 120. Barie also decisively handled Mandarin’s Josh Harris, 8-1, on Wednesday.

120 — Safe pick: Brandon Bemister, Atlantic Coast. Bemister has surprised me all season with his ability. I didn’t think he would beat Sirmans, and he did twice. However, he didn’t appear at Army Duals and that concerns me somewhat. Another pretty safe pick would be Ed White’s Chase Callaway — if he doesn’t wrestle at 126 this weekend. Wrestler to watch: Depends on what the Senators want to do, but whoever Fletcher puts out at 120 might be a threat to make finals. Either Lucas Lusk, who’s spent more time in the weight this year, or Mitchell Lein could do some damage.

126 — Safe pick: Jake Loizos, Fletcher. The first Gateway wrestler in the top 5 locally (#3 at this weight), I picked him to place at Clay, and he did, finishing fifth with an injury-default win over Ed White’s Armond Holmes, who hasn’t been back since. Loizos is very solid. Wrestler to watch: Atlantic Coast’s Nacierre Williams has built a pretty nice resume against Gateway opponents. His only loss in conference was to Fletcher’s Cal Rodgers, a weight up.

132 — Safe pick: No safe pick. I say that because this is a three-way battle — assuming none of them try to move up — between Ollie Dixon of Atlantic Coast, Rodgers of Fletcher and Juwan Lee of Ed White. Like the weight class area-wide, this is one of the deeper weights with three champion-worthy prospects. I could see Dixon move up, as the Stingrays wouldn’t be hurt team-wise by that, but Rodgers and Lee should stay, as moving up would mean sitting another solid wrestler. Wrestler to watch: It’ll be interesting to see who would join these three as semifinalists. I think Wolfson’s Joshua Cade might be that fourth.

138 — Safe pick: Kevin Herrera, Englewood. When Herrera, ranked #3 area-wide here, moved up from 132, it provided him with some immediate benefit, and lightened the load of an already-crazy 132 locally. The Orlando-area transfer has been the brightest light for the Rams this season, and has been a solid team leader for a program that’s one of many in Duval County on the cusp of building something good. Wrestler to watch: Another weight for Fletcher where one of two kids comes out. Whether it’s Joshua Sweeten or McKenzie Coxon, either would be a tough customer for Herrera to face.

145 — Safe pick: Nicholas Stiles, Stanton. With so few wrestlers in the lineup, it’s tough to review the Blue Devils as a team. But Stiles has been consistently solid all year long, with only a loss to UC’s Cody Joseph in the Episcopal finals in a match where he was pinned, but was also competitive. Wrestler to watch: The semifinals are actually pretty deep here too, with Mitchell Pendleton of Sandalwood, Devonta Malcolm of Ed White and Ectrus Barber of Atlantic Coast. I think Fletcher’s Dominick Belew might belong, too.

152 — Safe pick: Dillon May, Atlantic Coast. When he’s able to go both days of a tournament, May’s been pretty solid, achieving a #5 ranking area-wide at this weight. But he didn’t wrestle on Saturday at Clay and didn’t wrestle on Saturday at Army Duals. He has the talent to reach regionals, even in 3A this year. Wrestler to watch: There’s a couple I’m curious about, but I’m going to go with as a wrestler to watch, and I hope he wrestles this weekend because he didn’t at Clay, Tony Belle of Lee. This might be one of the deeper weight classes where there are about six or seven guys who could make semis, and Belle would be one of those.

160 — Safe pick: William Kohlhaas, Fletcher. None of the other solid 160s has done nearly as well against the higher-quality competition as Kohlhaas has this year. This could be a breakout weekend for him to take a championship. Wrestler to watch: I really want to get a close look at Paxon’s Anthony Dukes. He and 152 teammate Torry Williams are the top wrestlers in the Golden Eagle lineup. Dukes hasn’t gotten a lot of opportunities until the past couple of weeks, as Paxon didn’t get started until mid-December.

170 — Safe pick: Skylor Coxon, Fletcher. Coxon, like Kohlhaas in some respects, has seen the strongest competition among the more-solid 170s. The results haven’t quitee been the same. Coxon has all the tools to make a deep tournament run and, in a few weeks, maybe perform well enough to stay into Saturday at regionals. I’m going with three wrestlers to watch at this weight. One is Forrest’s Isaiah Golson. If he competes at this weight, he’d shown me some things in December and could be a real surprise. The other is Andrew Jackson’s Tracy Russell, who jumped out to an early 7-0 start in December. I’d be remiss also if I didn’t mention a wrestler who beat Russell at Army Duals. That would be Terry Parker’s Jessie Pafford, who can fly under the radar because of the lack of a ranking due to missing results.

182 — Safe pick: Jermaine Oliver, Raines. Raines didn’t start competing until after Christmas, at the Lakeland tournament (which I still don’t have brackets for yet, side note), but Oliver didn’t seem to need the break, performing well there, again at Clay in a deep field, and again at Suwannee, where he won the weight class. Along with First Coast’s Scott Dollison, Oliver is one of the highest-ranked Gateway wrestlers (#2 at this weight). So athletic. So unconventional. He’s truly fun to watch. Wrestler to watch: In another weight class with a loaded semifinal field, I’m keen to see if Wolfson’s Rafeal Leon might be a guy who could break into that field. He didn’t wrestle at Army Duals, though.

195 — Safe pick: Jahlan Walker, First Coast. I’m guessing football held Walker (#5 at this weight) out early, but he’s got a beastly physique and some wrestling chops to match. Big gap between Walker and the rest of the conference at this weight. Wrestler to watch: I thought Englewood’s Xavier Nieves might be a dark-horse finalist pick for the Gateway way back in November when I saw him for the first time at Terry Parker. I still think that way, assuming he’s able to go after injury-defaulting out of Army Duals last weekend Friday night.

220 — Safe pick: Scott Dollison, First Coast. What I know for sure about Dollison (#2 area-wide at this weight) is this: when he hits the moves he wants to hit, his ability to lock them up is pretty devastating. A year ago, I remember being very impressed, watching districts at Mandarin, that a freshman 195 could make it to regionals and not wrestle for a Fleming Island or Fletcher. Now, I think Dollison has a chance to be a state qualifier. If not this year, then next year for sure. Wrestlers to watch: Ignore the barely-over .500 record, Atlantic Coast’s David Taylor could be a factor. Taylor’s only in-conference loss was up at 285, and was very early. Also, Terry Parker’s Kerry Hardine started the year as high as #3 before missing results moved the Brave from the rankings.

285 — Safe pick: Kahlil Welsh, Forrest. Like Englewood’s Kenton West a year ago, #4 Welsh — who already has a district title under his belt and who has wrestled some seriously-good heavies this year (six minutes with Ridgeview’s Malcolm Kirce should tell you he has chops) — is a wrestler you want to see go on to college and stay in the sport. Welsh isn’t afraid, in equal measure, to go for the kill quickly or to be patient, as circumstances dictate. Wrestler to watch: Going with another two-fer here, because Wolfson’s DeAngeles Harris and Ed White’s Kelton Johnson may get a third match to settle things. Harris beat Johnson en route to the Optimist title in December, but Johnson beat Harris at Army Duals last weekend. Winner here should have a shot at the finals.

Bottom line: What I hope for, ultimately, is that all of the freshmen, all of the sophomores, and all of the juniors — regardless of win-loss record, skills, background, life circumstances — return to the sport next season, with an attitude of wanting to dig in and build a program at their school, even if that program doesn’t quite exist yet and won’t while they are still in school.

Wrestling in Northeast Florida needs a foundation in Duval County. It needs coaches willing to stay and to grow programs. There were a lot of coaching changes this year. I count 15 Gateway Conference teams with wrestling programs. Ten of them have coaches in their first year with their current team. I’ve been told it happens most years. I really hope next year isn’t more of the same.

If this website does nothing else while I run it, I hope it can at least attempt to help build that foundation.

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Ed White Commands Field for Optimist Title

By Shannon Heaton, Northeast Florida Matmen

It might be easy for a younger coach like Ed White’s Jaylen Lee to simply point to his own high school wrestling accomplishments and say to his charges, “Do it like I did it.”

That is the last thing on Lee’s mind, and that might be the first reason why the Commanders are quickly establishing themselves as a Gateway Conference team to worry about in 2013-14.

They were certainly a team to worry about this weekend, as Ed White brought home two individual titles and 10 medals to carry away top honors at Terry Parker’s annual two-day Optimist Invitational, outpointing #6 Ridgeview 228.5-196.

“Now that I’m coaching, I don’t go back on my past,” Lee said of his career, which included a state runnerup effort for Ed White in 2010. “We’re only focusing on how to get them better, how to make them better each and every day. As they progress, they will win more matches. I came in trying hard to have that mindset in them first. You can’t be weak. You’ve got to come out, dominate, and just bring it every day. They’ve listened, and done everything I’ve said.”

Although there were only three Commander wins in the final round of wrestling, two of them were for titles, as Roderick Evans (106) and Armond Holmes (126) walked away with Optimist Invitational brackets representing a team that was dead last out of eight teams a year ago in post-season competition.

“We are like a family; we keep each others’ heads in the game,” Holmes said of the team atmosphere that Lee has built in his first season coaching the Commanders. “When we first came here (to the tournament), We knew it would be a tough competition, and it was. But Coach has things under control, and each one of the guys on our team picks the spirits up of everyone else. It really helps us out. We have a lot of freshmen on this team, and they have picked things up right away. We’re good learners and we have a good coach.”

Ridgeview wasn’t the only challenger the Commanders faced in the team chase, but the Panthers were the most successful one. With titles from Jeremiah Watson (113) and Joey Epstein (126), Ridgeview was able to edge out Sandalwood 196-183.5 for the runnerup spot.

“At the moment, we’re exceeding our expectations,” Panthers assistant coach Zeth Nolda said. “As a whole, though, we’re not satisfied. We’re a very young team, on the whole, but we’re trying to get everyone on the rise. THe kids wrestled well today, and we did a great job. It’s a great start to our season (combined with Ridgeview’s third-place duals effort at Fleming Island on November 23).”

10 different schools had at least one champion on the weekend, with fourth-place Atlantic Coast collecting the most titles (three, en route to 173.5 points). Baker County was fifth at 133, with the tournament-host Braves sixth at 118 and West Nassau seventh at 116.

Ponte Vedra finished with eighth with 83 points, followed by Englewood (63.5), Duval Charter (61), Wolfson (59), Paxon (50) and Providence (45), respectively.

Here’s an individual weight-class title snapshot:

106 — Ed White’s Evans had three pins, all in the first period, including one in 1 minute, 58 seconds over Duval Charter’s Andrew Slade in the final.

113 — After two pins got Watson to the final, he shut down Sandalwood’s Alex Barie completely, controlling tempo and offense en route to a 5-0 decision for the championship.

120 — Atlantic Coast’s Brandon Bemister needed a little time to get his sea legs against Ed White’s Chase Calloway, but wound up with a quick fall just 17 seconds into the second period. Bemister had two pins and a technical fall on his way to the title.

126 — Holmes jumped out to an early lead and held on to turn back Ridgeview’s Trevor Belden, 10-6, in the final, after collecting two pins to get there.

132 — Best match of the tournament between Epstein and Atlantic Coast’s Ollie Dixon, both of whom briefly looked like they might end it via fall much earlier. It took overtime, and an Epstein takedown, to secure the win, which left him spent and gasping for air on the Terry Parker floor after the match.

138 — Englewood’s Kevin Herrera was a couple of tenths over at 132, so moved up and and dominated at 138, with two pins and a very easy-looking technical fall over Ed White’s Darien Tucker, which ended just a few seconds into the third period with Herrera up, 19-2.

145 — Nikeem Burns of Sandalwood brought home the Saints’ lone title with a second-period fall over Chase Gold of Ridgeview after trailing early. Burns had two falls earlier in the tournament as well.

152 — Second sudden-victory final, this time between Ponte Vedra’s Colin Peaks and Dillon May of Atlantic Coast. In the extra time, Peaks took advantage of a poor shot by May to secure the takedown and title.

160 — West Nassau’s Michael Dudzinski wasn’t seriously tested this weekend, bagging two pins and forcing the action in the final, an 11-3 major-decision win over Ridgeview’s Marcus Gomez.

170 — Atlantic Coast’s Triston Ulrich had two quick pins to bring home the Stingrays’ second title, needing just 1:29 to deck Sergio Jordan of Ed White in the final.

182 — Baker County’s Sean Mulkey took it to Dominick Maldonado right from the first whistle, picking up the fall in 52 seconds. Mulkey had two pins and a forfeit victory on the weekend.

195 — The Stingrays got title #3 from Mike Gant, who only needed 28 seconds to deck Ed White’s Atyrus McDowell in the title match. Gant had three first-period falls on the weekend.

220 — The hosts got their lone individual championship here, as the Braves’ Kerry Hardine — who earlier had the fastest pin of the season anywhere in the @NEFloridaMatmen area (6 seconds, in the quarterfinals) — pinned Baker County’s James Carter in 1:26. Hardine had three falls, all in the first period.

285 — With overwhelming favorite Malcolm Kirce of Ridgeview away for a football scholarship interview Saturday, the field opened up for Wolfson’s DeAngeles Harris, and he didn’t hesitate, taking advantage of the forfeit he received in the semis with a fall over Baker County’s Collyn Green in 1:56.

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December 4 Roundup Story

Fletcher has been the top program in the Gateway Conference for quite some time now.

And, while Senators coach Roy Fallon has sought out, right from the start of the 2013-14 season, some of the area’s best competition to toughen up his team, the rest of the Gateway seems to want to be on the move for the top, too.

Take Wednesday night’s quadrangular meet at Forrest — scheduled to be a five-team event, but Paxon arrived with a team but no weigh-in sheet.

THe #10 Rebels, themselves coming off a solid fourth-place finish at Fleming Island’s Keystone Duals, were poised to run the table at home, but another Gateway squad also wanted a slice of the pie that made for a 3-way tie Wednesday night.

In the second of three rounds of wrestling, Atlantic Coast — which had been off for nearly 3 weeks after a sluggish 0-3 start at Fletcher back in mid-November — took down the Rebels, 38-33, after falling earlier to Baker County, 42-32.

Then, in the final round, Forrest rallied, breaking a 24-24 tie with three pins and two forfeits to defeat Baker County, 54-30.

With all three of the round-robin winners taking wins over Englewood, that meant all three teams finished 2-1 on the night.

Triple winners for Forrest were Isaiah Golson (170/82), Malik Brown (195) and Kahlil Welsh (285). For Baker County, Logan Kish (138) and James Carter (220) each won three times.

Atlantic Coast was energized by the first appearance this season from Ollie Dixon, who began the season ranked in Class 3A. Dixon (132) was 3-0 for the Stingrays, as was Brandon Bemister (120), Nacierre Williams (126), Ectrus Barber (145) and Dillon May (152).

Englewood had just one triple winner in 113-pound Archie Brown.

#8 Creekside 48, Bishop Kenny 18: Behind falls from Joshua Cordle (113), Ryan Baker (138), Jared Langdo (145), David Cline (160) and Gus Fischer (195), the Knights won their home opener against a short-handed Crusader team, which had four weights open.

Middleburg 44, #9 St. Augustine 31: The hosts showed the form that had them listed as a preseason honorable mention pick, with falls from Tristan Tollison (138), Travis Neubeck (145), J.T. Davie (160), Jonathan Shoen (195) and Ammon Meeks (285) fueling the victory.

Wolfson opens season 2-0: The Warriors got double wins from Richard Tran (113), Charles Kessinger (126), Joshua Cade (132) and Rafeal Leon (195) in taking wins over Lee (42-30) and Stanton (48-24).

Ponte Vedra 42, Bartram Trail 39: The Sharks were able to pick up three pins to the Bears’ two in the six contested matches, with Zach Gregory (145), Colin Peaks (152) and Michael Swain (170) providing the difference for Ponte Vedra with their falls.

Florida Deaf & Blind 59, Providence 18: Five falls and a technical fall got FSDB out to a strong start in its home and season-opener, as Diego Garcia (106), John Tessar (113), Marcus Maldonado (138), Kyle McCreath (152) and Wesley Homewood (182) had pins and Chasien Taylor (145) picked up a tech fall.

Thursday action cancelled: The scheduled dual between Raines and First Coast was cancelled, according to Raines school personnel Thursday evening. No make-up date was known at press time.

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Live-tweet Wednesday

Good morning. Today, we’ll take you to Clay County for a matchup between #3 Orange Park — getting its first wrestling dates inside the @NEFloridaMatmen coverage area — and defending Gateway Conference champion Fletcher, an honorable-mention side. JV matches start at 6, I would suspect, with both teams being a bit larger, that there’ll be a few of those with varsity starting anywhere between 6:30-7. Follow us with live tweets at @NEFloridaMatmen.

Then, we’ll head off to Forrest High School for its five-team quad meet as soon as OP-Fletcher is done and interviews conducted. In addition to the #10 Rebels, HM lister Baker County, Englewood, Atlantic Coast and Paxon — making its season debut tonight — will be in attendance. It might take a bit to get the lay of the land once we get there, but I’ll see what I can do in the way of live tweets. Results from all of it will be posted later tonight, probably not much before 11.

Hopefully, I’ll remember how to add a little more effectively than I did Tuesday. My car did some wonky things in the Bolles parking lot (I seem to remember the same thing happening at regionals last season) and that, plus the sheer speed of the dual, just threw me off.

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November 20 Roundup Story

First-year coaches can often struggle to create a good fit with their new charges in any sport.

But after building a Stanton wrestling team that was solid enough to finish second in Class 2A District 2 a year ago, John Evans has taken his plan to Mandarin, and the results are paying off for the Mustangs.

Wednesday night, Northeast Florida Matmen honorable mention listed-Mandarin swept to convincing victories in its home opener, turning the spotlight on Lee and Englewood with 66-12 and 63-12 dual wins, respectively.

Eight Mustang wrestlers were double winners on the night, with Joshua Harris (113), Chase Mattox (120), Ian Winton (126), John Perrone (160), Samuel Hernandez (182) and Codie Miller (285) all recording two falls. Richard Gagnon (170) had one pin and one technical fall, while Camilo Calderon (138, in his first varsity matches) had one pin and one forfeit for Mandarin (7-3).

Englewood (3-2) opened the night with a 48-24 victory over Lee before running into the Mustang buzzsaw later. The Rams had two double winners on the evening, as Kevin Herrera (132) and Eric Hill (220) each had two pins.

Lee got its season underway Wednesday night, with Tony Belle (152) as the Generals’ lone unbeaten wrestler. Belle had a pair of pins on the night.

Bishop Kenny 54, Ponte Vedra 12: A second dose of home cooking proved as good as the first for the NEFLM HM-listed Crusaders, who improved to 7-1 with the victory.

Ryan Timmons (106), Christian Barakat (120), Nick Toney (132), Logan Bote (145) and Kuba Kaszuba (170) all recorded pins for Bishop Kenny, which also secured four additional forfeit victories against a shorter-handed Sharks side.

Ponte Vedra (1-7) did pick up falls from Anthony Giordano (113) and Colin Peaks (152) for its dual points.

Next Level note: Speaking of Ponte Vedra, Sharks coach Mike Ostlund noted earlier this week that Class of 2013 team member Frank Giordano is still practicing with Bacone College (Okla.) after getting hurt during wrestleoffs.

Also, Iowa Western CC first-year wrestler Jamarius Jackson (Ridgeview ’13) has yet to appear for the Reivers after not cracking the lineup in Iowa Western’s 25-15 victory over Iowa Lakes CC Wednesday night.