Not surprisingly, the 106 lb. weight class features the greatest number of State Champions and State Placers that return in 2016-2017. 111 State Champions or State Placers made the 106 lb. podium in 2016 and are eligible to return for another shot at the top step in 2017. Nearly all of these wrestlers will move up at least one weight class, but recall this is an opportunity to see where they were (and how they have done) over the past year. The wrestlers we know that have moved up will be noted in their "projected" weight class ... remember identifying the weight a wrestler might compete in is an inexact science.
Florida's Ryan Chauvin and Elijah Varona demonstrated why they headline the top tier with their dominating performances at the 2016 Super 32 tournament that was held just weeks ago in North Carolina. Chauvin, the 2016 Florida 1A State Champion, downed fellow Florida Champ Elijah Varona (in 3A) to finish 5th, Varona was 6th. Both were seconds away from battling each other in the final, Chauvin lost in overtime and Varona was taken down with fewer than 10 seconds left in his semifinal bout. Neither is likely to wrestle 106 this season. Both will likely compete at 113, allowing Lake Highland Prep to insert Jake Wohltman into the lineup and South Dade to add Bretli Reyna. Keep an eye on those two newcomers this season. A few other SE Hammers competed at 106 at Super 32 and could wrestle there this season. North Carolina 4A State champion Marcelino Aponte III went 3-2 at Super 32 and headlines that group. Aponte, formerly of Jack Britt, and now at Cape Fear and Georgia State Runner-up Logan Ashton of Buford could make the case for the top spot at 106. Ashton, who wrestled up at 113 (and finished 2-2) at Super 32, is expected to drop down to 106 by the end of the season.
Most of the 2016 State Champions or State Placers did not wrestle at Super 32 or moved up a weight class or two. Those that moved up, including State Champions Koby Milner, Kyle Gollhofer, Dymond Smith, etc. are not likely to see 106 again, ever. So, who could make 106 and make some noise in 2017? Keep an eye on Greco National Champion and Freestyle Runner-up Sam Latona of Thompson (Alabama). Latona went 2-2 at Super 32 and is still light for 106 (he lost out to Chandler Akins last season for the varsity spot ... so Akins could be his first challenge). Another Alabamian to watch is 7A State Placer Studd Morris of Central-Phenix City. Morris, who placed 4th in 2016, also went 2-2 at Super 32. South Carolina State Placer Trenton Patterson of Belton-Honea Path, North Carolina State placer Arien Leigh of First Flight, and Alabama State Placer Andrew Smith of Southside-Gadsden could be back at 106 (each wrestled there at Super 32).
The 106 pound weight class features several new Hammers and each could announce their presence with authority in 2016-2017. 7th grade phenom Nic Bouzakis of Florida headlines the group. Bouzakis has traveled far and wide to get some great competition and it shows every time he hits the mat. Most recently, Bouzakis went 6-2 at 106 at the Super 32 and nearly placed as a 7th grader. We mentioned Reyna and Wohltman earlier and fully expect their names to be in the conversation towards the end of the year. Georgia's Max Druhot of Pope and Vincent Mannella of West Laurens, as well as Tennessee's Christian Isbell, had very solid performances at the Super 32 and should be in the mix in 2017. Tennessee's Noah Hurst of Beech did not wrestle at Super 32, but won the Michigan Grappler at 106 and is a name to keep an eye on. Keep an eye on Heath Gonyer in North Carolina. Tennessee's Alex Whitworth of McCallie did not compete at the Super 32, but was dominant in taking 2nd at the Georgia qualifier in September (only losing to Ashton in the finals).
1A-5A State Champion Macon Edwards of Fultondale wrestled at 100 lbs. in Fargo this past summer, so a drop to 106 is certainly possible (but doesn't seem likely). Edwards should be the favorite at 113, unless Weaver's Nick Souder drops back down. Alex Thomas of Oak Mountain, the 7A Champ, will almost certainly be at 113 or 120 this season (he competed at 106 in Fargo and making that cut again seems out of the question). Expect Cole Thomas to step in and fill the spot at 106 for Oak Mountain. The only other placers we have an idea of weight is Jackson Elder of American Christian and Jailen Young of JO Johnson. Elder, a placer in 1A-5A, competed at 100 lbs. this summer in Fargo ... so the cut to 106 is a possibility. Young wrestled at the Super 32 qualifier in Georgia at 106, so a cut to 106 at the end of the season seems possible. Stone Barden, formerly of Buckhorn, and now at Hewitt-Trussville competed at the Super 32 at 120 ... expect him to be up at 120/126 this season (whatever weight Williamson is not competing at). Other placers ... Clayton, Haynes, Howard, Ivey, Lawhorn, Stone, and Vazquez are unknowns. We'd expect most would be up to 113 or 120 in 2016-2017. Thompson's Chandler Akins is superb and the battle in the room between Latona and Akins might determine the State Champ in 7A.
Florida 2A State Champion Trey Lane and State Placers Ryan Boncamper, Malyke Hines, Ben Buhler, wrestled at 113 at the Super 32 and none seems likely to make it down to 106 in 2017. 1A State Runner-up Ethan Pickren of Arnold wrestled the Super 32 at 120, so his days at 106 are gone. Florida returns 9 other placers and we have little idea if any will be at 106, 113 or heavier in 2016-2017. We do know that Clay's Lou Gagliardo and Suwannee's Brandon Trask both competed at the NHSCA Nationals at 106 last spring (but that is some time ago). What weight Bush, Fragale, Cochran, Lopez, Malavsky, McNeal, and Tran end up would simply be a guess by us. It seems most of the 106's in Florida will be at a heavier weight, meaning this could be a wide open weight in 2017.
Several Georgia State Champs and Placers competed at a weight class other than 106 at the 2016 Super 32. 5A Champ Kyle Gollhofer of Woodland, Camden's Tyler Crew, Union Grove's Bryson Neace, and Model's Walker Byrd were at 113, 4A Champ Koby Milner of Pickens was at 120 and Josh Engstrom of Social Circle and Bradley Bitting of North Paulding wrestled at 126. 21 other placers return and most will end up at 113, 120 or 126 in 2016-2017. Keep an eye on Woodland's Gavin Nix ... with Gollhofer up at 113, Nix will have an opportunity to show everyone that he is ready to be on top of the podium at 106.
With Aponte and Leigh already mentioned above, the conversation shifts to those that competed at Super 32 at a weight other than 106. 1A State Champ Timothy Decatur-Luker, 4A Runner-up Carson Smith of Southeast Guilford, and 4A Placer Isaac Toe of High Point Central wrestled at 113. 3A State Placer Jalen White of Southern Guilford, 2A Placer Strawn Wilson of Thomasville and Caedyn Fitch of Jay Robinson both have wrestled this fall at 106 and should be among the favorites to reach the top of the podium. 13 others placed and it is uncertain what weight they will wrestle in 2016-2017. Enka's Melvin Rubio, 4th in 3A, wrestled 113 at the North Carolina qualifier.
Trenton Patterson, mentioned previously, was 2-2 and is the only South Carolina placer that we know has made the weight this fall. 4A State Runner-up Jacob Brasseur of Lexington competed at 113 at the Super 32. We expect 4A State Champ Jordie White to be at least 113 and could compete this season at 120. South Carolina features 6 other placers that will likely move up, can any of them get back to 106 and make a run?
The only Tennessee wrestler, other than Pigeon Forge's Dymond Smith at 120 at Super 32, that we know what weigh he has wrestled this fall is Bryce Pond of Cleveland. Pond wrestled 113 at Journeymen. We mentioned Isbell, Whitworth, and Hurst in the newcomers section ... their run to a title will depend on whether any of the other 17 will be back at 106 (especially defending 3A Champ Charles Wheaton of Soddy Daisy) . Luke Dezember of Lawrence County and Brayden Palmer of Beech both wrestled 106 at NHSCA Nationals. It seems logical that Palmer would move up so Beech could put Hurst in the line-up.