Florida Class 1A State Tournament Fan's Guide

 2015 State Tournament

2015 State Tournament

We are excited to bring you "A Fan's Guide" to the FHSAA State Tournaments that are taking place this coming weekend at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.  We are pleased to provide the casual fan an insider's look into each bracket and what may (or may not) happen over the course of the weekend.  We make no predictions about who will win or qualify for next week's state tournament.  For each weight class we provide a few bulletpoints to watch and then a copy of the bracket (which you can see for yourself on trackwrestling.com).  Each weight class features:

  • Favorite: Our favorite to win the weight class based on this past season and past performance.
  • Contenders: A list of wrestlers that should challenge the favorite for the top step on the podium.
  • Best 1st round match: The match we believe will be the closest during the 1st round of action.
  • Darkhorse: A wrestler that did not finish 1st or 2nd in his/her region, but has all the tools to knock off everyone and take the top step.
  • Bracket Buster: A wrestler that finished 4th in his/her region, but has the ability to be somewhere on the podium on Saturday evening.
  • Predicted Finals Match: Obviously who we believe will be in the finals.

Individual Notes:  SQ = 2015 State Qualifier; 1st = 2015 State Champ; 2nd = 2015 State Runner-up, R1 = Region 1, R2 = Region 2, etc.

A few notes before we have a look at each weight class.  First, we provide a copy of the bracket (a screenshot from trackwrestling) at the bottom of each "narrative".  But we have come to realize that the setup of the brackets are not always intuitive, as a result we have constructed a short tutorial about how to read the Florida State Tournament Bracket.  Second, it is important to state that much of what is written below is not revolutionary.  It has some opinion, but is largely based on data.  We are limited in the amount of data we have because not every program in the state uses trackwrestling to provide results.  As a result, we collect tournament results throughout the season and pour over those results when trying to construct the Fan's Guide.  If wrestler x lost to wrestler y in a dual on a Tuesday night in early February ... it will not likely be reflected in the Fan's Guide. In the Tempest by William Shakespeare, Antonio uses the phrase "What's past is prologue" to suggest that everything that happened before now, has led to the opportunity that now sits before you.  As a result, we use a few #'s as context for why we have chosen certain wrestlers in the the categories identified above.  Remember ... this is not designed as a prediction.  Rather it is designed to help those people sitting in the stands to understand our great sport and what top watch over the next two days.

  • A Favorite will almost always be one of the four region champions ... and the list of contenders will have every other region champion as well.  It might include other wrestlers, but it will always include the region champions. The reason ... 12 of the 14 (86%) 2015 3A State Champions were Regional Champions.  In fact, 58% of 2015 Regional Champions medaled at last year's state tournament ... meaning that the majority of them will be in the hunt for a spot on the podium in 2016.
  • Because the way the FHSAA designs the brackets (with a formula and no seeding) ... a Darkhorse, someone finishing 3rd or 4th in a region, has a very legitimate shot at taking the top spot on the podium.  In many cases the 3rd place finisher from a region is a more difficult draw than the 2nd place finisher ... that is not always the case, but it does happen.  No 3rd place finishers grabbed a state title in 2015 (and 2 2nd place finishers did), but there were 4 more 3rd place finishers on the podium than 2nd place finishers (18 to 14) in the 2015 State Tournament.  The chances that are 3rd place finisher will be on the podium is 21% compared to 2nd place at 17%.
  • A Bracket Buster is a wrestler that finishes 4th in a Region and finds a way to a spot on the podium ... this exceptionally difficult (just 4% of 4th place finishers were on the podium in 2015) and these are the young men that we believe (given the draw and their past performance) have the best shot.  In looking at the data ... just 3 4th place finishers medaled in 2015 ... 2 (Nickolas Burt of Pasco - now in 2A and Brandon Smith of Weeki Wahcee) finished 4th at regionals and 4th at the state meet.

Region vs. Region vs. Region vs. Region

The last thing to discuss before we take a look at the individual weight classes is an overview of region performance from 2015.  This information should be taken with "a grain of salt" because the strength of an entire region varies from year to year (and fairly significantly).  For example, Clay and Pasco were members of 1A Region 2 in 2015 ... Clay is now in 1A Region 1 and Pasco is in 2A, Dunedin won Region 3 in 2015, but is now in 2A. So it is difficult to assign meaning to the #'s below ... still it is interesting and knowing the below information (and the movement of certain "power" teams) does factor in when looking at each weight class.

Team

  • Favorite: Lake Highland Prep
    • If you are looking for a team race you can repeat this phrase all weekend ... "nothing to see here ... love along" (kind of like Obi-wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars ... again showing my age).  Anyway ... LHP has 12 qualifiers, 10 of whom are Region Champions and should runaway with the team title.  The Highlanders might be the best team in the state and the entire Southeast (I can hear Camden and Archer shouting now).  Regardless, in 1A they are well in front of a very deep and talented field.
  • Contenders:
    • Tier 1
      • Clay
      • Cardinal Gibbons
      • Arnold
      • Somerset Academy
        • The spot for #2 should be fun to watch and should come down to the four teams listed above.  Clay brings 12 qualifiers with 6 champions and 3 runners-up.  Given their firepower they have to be considered the greatest threat to knocking off LHP.  Gibbons, Arnold, and Somerset have the horses to compete and that should make for a great race for the #2 spot.  Gibbons qualified 10 and has 3 Champs and 3 Runners-up ... they will certainly make a run for the #2 spot as well.  Arnold, with 5 champs and 3 runners-up, probably has the best shot to knock off Clay and take the #2 spot.  It will depend on whether Arnold can put those 8 somewhere on the podium.  Somerset trails Clay, Arnold, and Gibbons for the #2 spot.  They have 3 champs, but will need their #3's (4 of them) and their #4 to score points if they are going to break into the top 3.
    • Tier 2
      • Tampa Prep
      • Indian Rocks Christian
      • Bishop Moore
      • Astronaut
      • Florida High
        • Tampa Prep leads the Tier 2 schools in a race for a top 5 finish.  Although the Terrapins only have 5 qualifiers, they have 3 champs in Artalona, Habiel, and Tarantino that could be in the finals ... if they get that production they will be in the hunt for a top 5 finish.  IRC is in a similar position with just 5 qualifiers ... but they have Allshouse and Gingras (both of which should be favored to make the finals.  How high they climb might depend on how well Pohler, Steward, and Kerr wrestle.  Bishop Moore, Astronaut, and Florida High each have 7 qualifiers and will need some production from their #3's and #4's if they are going to climb into the top 5.  BM has 3 wrestlers that finished either 3rd or 4th, Astronaut has 3 4th place finishers, and Florida High has 3 4th placer finishers and 1 3rd place finisher.  From a team race perspective ... having a wrestler go 0-2 is like not having a qualifier at all.  
    • Tier 3
      • Key West
      • Wakulla
      • Avon Park
      • Dunbar
      • Weeki Wachee
      • Miami Jackson
        • All of the teams in Tier 3 have the ability to climb into the top 8, but also have significant challenges that will prevent them from being a top 5 team.  None of the six teams has more than 1 Region Champion and each has just 6 (Key West and Wakulla) or 5 (the rest) qualifiers.  What that means is #2's, #3's and #4's will be counted on to score points if they are going to finish in the top 10 in 2016.
  • Methodology: Using a bit of inductive reasoning we will attempt to explain how we arrived at the favorites, contenders, etc. for the team race.  First, it is important to know how different placers fared a season ago ... meaning the average wrestler that won a specific weight class was awarded 26.43 points (taking the average of all 14 1A State Champions from 2015), a runner-up garnered 20.57, 3rd had 16.82, 4th 15.07, 5th 11.29, and 6th finished with 8.50 points on average.  Obviously there is variance in the those numbers, but it gives us a good idea of what the "typical" placer will score.  As you can see the distance between each step (in terms of points) is about 3 points (except between 1st and 2nd where it is closer to 6 and between 3rd and 4th where it is just below 2).  Second, we explained above that just 4% of wrestlers that finished 4th in a region were able to "find" the podium in 2015.  So having a significant number of state qualifiers is always a plus, having a majority of them as 4th place finishers does not bode well in the team race.  The likewise is also true ... 58% of region champions were on the podium in 2015 ... so if you have several region champions - your chances of being in the team race is enhanced.  The difference could come down to the #2's and #3's ... where 20% or so were able to place.  
  • Below is a numerical breakdown of the top 4 teams from each region.  Across the top is the # of State Qualifiers (total) and their region place.

106 lbs.

  • Favorite: Ryan Chauvin (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st
  • Contenders:
    • Matthew Malavsky (Evangelical Christian) - R3 1st; SQ @ 106 (went 2-2) in '15
    • Ethan Pickren (Arnold) - R1 1st
    • Aaron Palacios (Key West) - R4 1st
    • Lou Gagliardo (Clay) - R1 2nd
    • Tryvon Spry (Avon Park) - R3 2nd
  • Best 1st Round Match: Buhler vs. Gagliardo
  • Darkhorse: Ben Buhler (Tampa Prep)
  • Bracket Breaker: Carson Kirk (Astronaut)
  • Finals: Pickren vs. Chauvin
  Wohltman downed Conrad 10-5 to win the 2015 1A 106 lb. title

Wohltman downed Conrad 10-5 to win the 2015 1A 106 lb. title

  • Summary: With the loss of Lucas Willis of Imagine School from the postseason, Chauvin enters as the favorite after a dominating run to the Region 2 title last weekend.  Chauvin posted 4 falls, including a 2nd period over Ryan Rowland of Bishop Moore in the finals.  His losses throughout the season might be more telling than his wins.  He lost a close 4-3 decision to 3A State Placer Elijah Varona of South Dade and a 1 point loss to Cahal Donovan of Phonenix (NY) in the consolation finals of the Kowboy Classic.  It doesn't appear that the top 3 contenders (Chauvin, Malavsky, and Pickren) have faced each other this season.  Malavsky's losses have come to Willis, Tommy Barker of Springstead, Nathan Lawwell of Lake Gibson, etc.  His 9-4 decision over Spry in the Region 3 Finals and 7-5 win over Ben Buhler of Tampa Prep indicate that he is ready to make a run for the top step.  Pickren, and his Arnold teammates, have traveled far and wide this season ... competing against many of the top teams in both Alabama and Georgia.  With wins over GA 5A State Placer Bryson Neace, AL 7A State Placer Cale Land, as well as Florida hammers Albie Snedaker, Lou Gagliardo, and Ryan Rowland, and Aaron Palacios, Pickren is ready for a run at the top step as well.  Palacios, the Region 4 Champion, Gagliardo, and Spry are all within striking distance of the top guys, but will need to have a great weekend if they are going to take the title.  Keep an eye on Buhler of Tampa Prep.  He has beaten some very talented wrestlers (and lost to some very talented ones as well) and should be on the radar.

113 lbs.

  • Favorite: Noah Castillo (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st
  • Contenders:
    • Chris Merring (Clay) - R1 1st; SQ @ 113 (went 0-2) in '15
    • Christopher Riley (Somerset Academy) - R4 1st
    • Alan Morano (Bradenton Christian)
    • Larry Smith (Wakulla) - 6th @ 113 in '15
    • Daniel Porter (University Christian) - 6th @ 106 in '15
  • Best 1st Round Match: Cortez vs. Mills
  • Darkhorse: Aaron Mills (Tampa Prep) - 5th @ 106 in '14
  • Bracket Breaker: Nick Walker (Bishop Moore)
  • Finals: Merring vs. Castillo
  Silva beat Talshahar 15-4 to win the 2015 1A 113 lb. title

Silva beat Talshahar 15-4 to win the 2015 1A 113 lb. title

  • Summary: An argument could be made that returning State Qualifier Chris Merring of Clay is the favorite ... we don't know whether Castillo and Merring wrestled when they dualed about a month ago and if they did what the result was.  Regardless, Merring's win over returning 113 lb. State Placer Larry Smith of Wakulla 8-6 in the Region 1 finals should send a message that he is either the favorite or co-favorite heading into the weekend.  Castillo began the year at 106, but has since moved up to 113 and performed very well.  With wins over Reyes of South Dade, Demus of Fleming Island, and an 18-5 win over Smith of Wakulla he could be considered the favorite heading into the weekend.  Losses to defending 3A 113 lb. State Champion Alex Victor of Braddock and returning State Qualifier Jared Abramson of Wellington show that his losses have come to top competition.  Neither Castillo or Merring has faced Riley or Morano (from what we can tell).  Both are new to the "big stage", but that shouldn't discount either of them.  Both are a threat to take the top step after solid wins to take a region title last weekend.  Keep an eye on two returning State Placers, Smith and Porter ... as well Tampa Prep's Aaron Mills (back after missing 2015) ... all 3 have the ability to be on the top step if given the opportunity.  Mills or Cortez vs. Merring and Casillo vs. Smith will be great quarterfinals.

120 lbs.

  • Favorite: Mason Wohltman (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; 1st @ 106 in '15
  • Contenders:
    • Dominic Gibson (Cardinal Gibbons) - R4 1st; 2nd @ 120 in '15; 6th @ 113 in '13
    • Dre'Boris Neely (Avon Park) - R3 1st; 4th @ 120 in '15; 5th @ 113 in '13
    • William Pickren (Arnold) - R1 1st; 5th @ 120 in '15
    • Nickolas Piriano (Key West) - R4 2nd; 5th @ 106 in '15
    • Eric Garcia (Lely) - R3 2nd; SQ @ 120 (2-2) in '15
  • Best 1st Round Match: Garcia vs. Singletary
  • Darkhorse: Colby Singletary (Somerset Academy)
  • Bracket Breaker: Nick Lebeau (Astronaut)
  • Finals: Wohltman vs. Gibson
  Balmaceda beat Gibson 4-3 to win the 2015 1A 120 lb. title

Balmaceda beat Gibson 4-3 to win the 2015 1A 120 lb. title

  • Summary: Unbelievable weight class.  The list of contenders doesn't even include Devin Kohn (Region 2 Runner-up to Wohltman and 3A State Qualifier at 106 in 2015) or Jason Meyer of Evangelical Christian (Region 3 3rd place and 1A State Qualifier at 113 in 2015).  Both Kohn and Meyer won matches in Kissimmee a season ago and should be on everyone's radar.  That said ... with defending State Champion Wohltman, Runner-up Gibson, State Placers Neely, Pickren, and Piriano, State Qualifier Garcia, as well as some phenomenal underclassmen in Dylan Taylor and Colby Singletary, you have perhaps the best weight class in 1A.  Wohltman is unbeaten on the season, after facing some excellent competition at Graves (where he beat GA 5A State Champion Raydan Wilder of Camden County 12-7, and then sitting out part of the season with an injury.  He is certainly the man to beat in the bracket.  This weight class is so deep that it shouldn't surprise anyone that any of the names listed above find a way to the top step.  If you don't have someone wrestling in 1A at 120 and are just watching as a fan ... this is a weight class that shouldn't be missed.

126 lbs.

  • Favorite: Joe Silva (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; 2x State Champion
  • Contenders:
    • Dale Browning (Clay) - R1 1st; 5th @ 113 in '14; 4th @ 106 in '13
    • Noah Farrelly (Admiral Farragut) - R3 1st
    • Connor Kirk (Astronaut) - R2 2nd; 5th @ 113 in '15
    • Nicholas Benton (Somerset Academy) - R4 1st
    • Kyle Black (Bishop Kenny) - R1 2nd
  • Best 1st Round Match: Lopez vs. English
  • Darkhorse: Jake Wheeler (Bishop Moore)
  • Bracket Breaker: Bryan Metcalf (Florida High)
  • Finals: Browning vs. Silva
  McClanahan beat Brindley 4-3 to win the 2015 1A 126 lb. title

McClanahan beat Brindley 4-3 to win the 2015 1A 126 lb. title

  • Summary: 2x State Champion Silva is simply outstanding and should be considered the prohibitive favorite entering his 3rd State Tournament.  Silva has won all 8 of his State Tournament matches thus far in his career and will look to make it 12-0 this weekend.  Silva wasn't even close to being challenged a season ago, as he secured his 2nd title in as many trips.  He outscored his opponents 74-15, recording 2 technical falls and two major decision wins.  Browning has been all over the podium, but has yet to wrestle in a finals or taken the top step in his career (and as a senior this is his final trip).  Browning, along with everyone else in the bracket, will need to be outstanding this weekend if they are going to take out Silva.  Keep an eye on Farrelly, Kirk, and Benton ... each has an excellent shot to be high on the podium.  The potential quarterfinal between Browning and Kirk could be in the best of the bunch ... and the winner in the finals opposite Silva.

132 lbs.

  • Favorite: Frankie Talshahar (American Heritage Delray Beach) - R4 1st; 2nd @ 120 in '15
  • Contenders:
    • Derek Miller (Clay) - R1 1st
    • Kai Bele (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st
    • Richie McClanahan (Arnold) - R1 2nd; 1st @ 126 in '15
    • Ashton Habeil (Tampa Prep) - R3 1st; 3rd @ 113 in '15
    • Jack Pohler (Indian Rocks Christian) - R3 2nd; SQ @ 126 in '15
  • Best 1st Round Match: Pohler vs. Valledor
  • Darkhorse: Andonet Thermidor (Immokalee)
  • Bracket Breaker: Max Owen (Wakulla) - SQ @ 132 in '15
  • Finals: Talshahar vs. Bele
  Carlan beat Dugmore 2-1 to win the 2015 1A 132 lb. title

Carlan beat Dugmore 2-1 to win the 2015 1A 132 lb. title

  • Summary: After describing Silva and his stranglehold on 126, 132 represents a breath of fresh air.  As many as 7 different wrestlers have a shot at the top step.  With McClanahan's loss to Miller in the Region 1 final, 120 lb. State Runner-up Frankie Talshahar grabs the favorite spot.  Habiel, Miller, Bele, and McClanahan should all be considered serious threats to the top step.  Bele's losses have largely come to fantastic out-of-state competition (he also lost early this season to South Dade's returning 1A 120 lb. State Champion Brevin Balmaceda at the Graves Invitational).  McClanahan had been cruising along, even beating Miller 5-1 at the Clay Rotary earlier this season, before falling in last weekend's Region 1 Final.  His only losses, prior to losing to Miller, were to Jefferson (GA) Tanner Thurmond (multiple time GA State Champion), Osceola's John Locksmith and that level of competition (in very close matches).  Miller has beaten Macfarlane of Wellington and lost to Sampsel of Fleming Island, but it is the win over McClanahan in the Region Finals that shows he is a serious threat to beat anyone in the bracket.  Habeil, just an 8th-grader (like Bele and Talshahar), finished 3rd at 113 a season ago and also has some outstanding wins on his resume.  He has lost to Miller earlier this season (9-2 in the semi's at the Clay Rotary) and Sampsel, Locksmith, Deaugustino, and other top level 132's in the state.  He and Pohler should find the podium, how high they climb will depend on how well they compete this weekend.  The bottom side is unbelievably difficult and will feature some fantastic matches ... Habiel vs. McClanahan in the quarters with the winner likely getting Talshahar.  Wow.

138 lbs.

  • Favorite: Alex Perez (Monsignor Pace) - R4 1st; 4th @ 138 in '15
  • Contenders:
    • Julian Summa (Clay) - R1 1st
    • Alyis Mursuli (Somerset Canyons) - R4 2nd
    • Aaron Mason (Bishop Moore) - R2 1st
    • Gregory Krempski (Oasis) - R3 1st
    • Max Cosmides (Lake Highland Prep)
  • Best 1st Round Match: Harris vs. Lecarbeau
  • Darkhorse: Calab Ashe (Key West) - 3rd @ 126 in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Joey Lopez (Cardinal Gibbons) - SQ @ 138 in '15
  • Finals: Summa vs. Perez
  Artalona beat Koselke 3-2 to win the 2015 1A 138 lb. title

Artalona beat Koselke 3-2 to win the 2015 1A 138 lb. title

  • Summary: A fairly wide open weight class that features two returning State Placers and returning State Qualifier, all from Region 4.  We haven't run an analysis regarding how many 1st time State Qualifiers win state titles, but this weight class seems like a likely possibility.  Perez, a returning Placer at weight, is the favorite, but he is chased by a trio of Region Champions that are new to the "big stage" (Summa, Mason, and Krempski).  Mursuli downed returning State Placer Ashe 6-3 in the Region semifinals and should be considered a threat as well.  Interested in close matches that can go to either wrestler?  If you answered "yes", this might be the weight class to watch.  No #3's or #4's made it to the finals a season ago, but with Ashe, Lopez, Harris, Davis, Carbone, and others ... this might the weight class where that happens in 2016.  The top quarter is exceptionally difficult and bouts 41, 42, and 153 should be "must-see" viewing for the wrestling fans in the building.

145 lbs.

  • Favorite: Jake Brindley (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; 2x State Champion; 2nd @ 126 in '15; 5th @ 106 in '12
  • Contenders:
    • Anthony Artalona (Tampa Prep) - R3 1st; 2x State Champion; 3rd @ 113 in '13
    • Keath Sawdo (Clay) - R1 1st; 2A SQ @ 145 in '15
    • Dominick Venturi (American Heritage Plantation) - 6th @ 145 in '15
    • Ethan Ahrens (Astronaut) - SQ @ 145 (1-2) in '15
    • Dylan Tuttle (Arnold)
  • Best 1st Round Match: Cronk vs. Peksen
  • Darkhorse: Conner Cronk (Bolles) - SQ @ 138 in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Zack Dagg (Lemon Bay)
  • Finals: Artalona vs. Brindley
  Rogers beat Byelick 5-3 ot to win the 2015 1A 145 lb. title

Rogers beat Byelick 5-3 ot to win the 2015 1A 145 lb. title

  • Summary: Two of the best 145's in the state are in 1A and when they meet it should be a pay-per-view worthy match.  Brindley has bounced back from his lost in the 126 finals in 2015 with a vengeance and has been on a roll since early December (when he dropped a match to 5A State Runner-up Adrian Hughes of Camden County).  Brindley has since beaten 2x 3A State Champion Ozzy Lugo (3-2 in the semifinals of the Knockout Christmas Classic), 2A State Champion Adam Lewis in the finals at the Prep Slam in Atlanta, and Artalona in overtime in the finals of the Knockout Christmas Classic.  Sawdo, Venturi, Ahrens, and Tuttle should battle it out for a spot on the podium, but it seems unlikely any of the four will knock off either Brindley or Artalona (crazier things have happened and each member of the quartet is talented enough to do it).  Keep an eye on Osani Ley of Gibbons, Kayhan Peksen of Lely, and Conner Cronk of Bolles ... each is looking for a medal in 2016.  Fortunately, for the fan's in the audience ... Artalona and Brindley are on the opposite sides of the bracket and that means one of the best state finals (assuming they both do what they should do ... and that is win) in recent memory.  If it happens ... it will be memorable.  Ten years from now, Ricky Marcus will be asking what was the best final in the last 25 years ... and the answer could be Artalona vs. Brindley in 2016.

152 lbs.

  • Favorite: Erich Byelick (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; 2nd @ 145 in '15; 5th @ 145 in '14
  • Contenders:
    • Michael Gingras (Indian Rocks Christian) - R3 1st; 3rd @ 145 in '15
    • Paul Patterson (Arnold) - R1 1st; 3rd @ 138 in '15
    • Ryan Violette (Bishop Moore) - SQ @ 152 (1-2) in '15
    • Juan Vernaza (Somerset Academy) - R4 1st
    • Christian McIntire (Marianna)
  • Best 1st Round Match: Gomez vs. McIntire
  • Darkhorse: Conner Green (Clay)
  • Bracket Breaker: Michael Surenyan (Bolles)
  • Finals: Byelick vs. Gingras
  Breindel beat Tarantino 5-3 ot to win the 2015 1A 152 lb. title

Breindel beat Tarantino 5-3 ot to win the 2015 1A 152 lb. title

  • Summary: This looks like a two-horse race between Byelick and Gingras.  Patterson, Violette and Vernaza should be in the mix for a medal, but appear to be a bit behind the top 2 at the moment.  Vernaza lost to Patterson 3-0 back in late December and it doesn't look as if he has faced either Gingras or Byelick.  Violette has beaten Patterson (in overtime at the Clay Rotary), but has lost Byelick.  In doesn't appear that former teammates Byelick and Gingras have wrestled yet this season, but in the state semifinals a season ago, Byelick won 12-2 to advance to the finals.  Expect the top 5 to be in the hunt for the top step.  McIntire, Green, Nelson, and Taylor will be looking to find the podium.  Keep an eye on Patterson in the top quarter ... no easy quarterfinal there and Violette vs. Vernaza in the bottom quarter.  That will be a good match.  Expect Gingras and Byelick to move to the semi's and then have a tough match to get into the final.

160 lbs.

  • Favorite: Bryce Rogers (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; 1st @ 145 in '15; 4th @ 120 in '14; 
  • Contenders:
    • Leonardo Tarantino (Tampa Prep) - R3 1st; 2nd @ 152 in '15; 3rd @ 138 in '14
    • Michael Lopouchanski (Cardinal Gibbons) - R4 1st; SQ @ 152 (1-2) in '15
    • Kamen Wilmington (Northside Christian) - SQ @ 152 (2-2) in '15
    • Nathaniel DeJesus (Weeki Wachee)
    • Billy Jenkins (Suwannee) - R1 1st
  • Best 1st Round Match: Evans vs. Hostetter
  • Darkhorse: Lavaris Preston (Dunbar) - 6th @ 160 in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Justin Perkins (Atlantic)
  • Finals: Rogers vs. Lopouchanski
  Cleary beat Allshouse 10-3 to win the 2015 1A 160 lb. title

Cleary beat Allshouse 10-3 to win the 2015 1A 160 lb. title

  • Summary: And here the "formula" rather than seeding rears its ugly head again.  We understand the challenges associated with seeding wrestlers from a large state, but we also clamor for seeing the two best wrestlers face off in the finals ... which may happen regardless.  At 47-0 (and a returning State Qualifier), Michael Lopouchanski is certainly in the top 3 in the bracket.  An argument could be made that Returning State Champion Bryce Rogers and Returning Runner-up Leonardo Tarantino are the 2 best in the bracket (and should face one another in the bottom semifinal).  Regardless, this is a great weight class and should produce some excellent matches (from DeJesus vs. Preston and Evans vs. Hostetter in the 1st round all the way through the finals).  

170 lbs.

  • Favorite: Elijah Cleary (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; 1st @ 160 in '15; 2nd @ 132 in '14; 6th @ 126 in '13
  • Contenders:
    • Julian Georgescu (Cardinal Gibbons) - R4 1st; 6th @ 170
    • Jake Walker (Sarasota Military) - R3 1st; SQ @ 152 (2-2) in '15
    • Will Haigler (Florida High) - R1 1st; SQ @ 160 (0-2) in '15
    • Stephen Kelle (Southeast) - SQ @ 170 (1-2) in '15
    • Chris Surace (Wakulla) - SQ @ 160 (2-2) in '15; 
  • Best 1st Round Match: Petit vs. Williams
  • Darkhorse: Brandon Petit (Miami Jackson) - SQ @ 195 (0-2) in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Tra'Vaughn Harrington (Gibbs)
  • Finals: Walker vs. Cleary
  McGee beat Key 15-7 to win the 2015 1A 170 lb. title

McGee beat Key 15-7 to win the 2015 1A 170 lb. title

  • Summary: Returning 160 lb. State Champion Elijah Cleary headlines the bracket, he is followed closely by a trio of Region Champions in Haigler, Walker, and Georgescu.  All three qualified for the 2015 State Tournament and Georgescu placed 6th at 170.  Each took care of tough regions and should be the favorites in each of their quarters.  Keep an eye on returning qualifiers Kelle and Surace on the bottom side of the bracket.  

182 lbs.

  • Favorite: Conner Allshouse (Indian Rocks Christian) - R3 1st; 2nd @ 160 in '15; 2nd @ 152 in '14; 5th @ 138 in '13
  • Contenders:
    • Kevin Ford (Lake Highland Prep) - R2 1st; SQ @ 170 (2-2) in '15
    • Brian Girard (Arnold) - R1 1st; SQ @ 170 (1-2) in '15
    • Chris Ralston (Satellite) - 3rd @ 195 in '15
    • Kevin Soltis (Coral Springs Charter) - R4 1st; SQ @ 170 (1-2) in '15
    • Benson Dorvil (Coconut Creek) - 2A SQ @ 182 (0-2) in '15
  • Best 1st Round Match: Dorvil vs. Bennis
  • Darkhorse: Edward Bennis (Crystal River) - SQ @ 182 (2-2) in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Logan Hastings (Interlachen)
  • Finals: Allshouse vs. Ford
  Reggler beat Sannasardo 5-3 ot to win the 2015 1A 182 lb. title

Reggler beat Sannasardo 5-3 ot to win the 2015 1A 182 lb. title

  • Summary: Over the last 3 years it seems as if Allshouse has finished in every spot on the podium at the state tournament, except the top step ... and although that isn't accurate he has finished somewhere on the podium for 3 consecutive seasons.  Will 2015-2016 be the year he takes the top step?  If the answer is "yes", then he is going to have to have an excellent state tournament because the road to the top step is anything but easy.  The top 2 quarters of the bracket are exceptionally difficult with each region champion (assuming they win their 1st round match) getting a "hammer" in the quarters.  Region 1 Champ Girard will get either Dorvil vs. Bennis (both returning qualifiers) and Allshouse could get returning State Placer Chris Ralston of Satellite.  The bottom side isn't much easier, but should feature returning qualifiers Ford and Soltis in the semi's.  

195 lbs.

  • Favorite: Ryan Thomas (American Heritage Delray Beach) - R4 1st; 2x State Champion
  • Contenders:
    • Kaleb Collins (Clay) - R1 1st; 4th @ 195 in '15
    • Brandon Isnardi (Lely) - R3 1st
    • Christopher Williams (Cardinal Gibbons)
    • Cam Brown (Florida High) - SQ @ 195 in '15
    • Jaret Flynn (Crystal River) - R2 1st
  • Best 1st Round Match: Brown vs. Mesa
  • Darkhorse: Wanderlay Mesa (Pinecrest Prep) - SQ @ 182 (0-2) in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Darrien Grant (Southeast)
  • Finals: Thomas vs. Williams
  Thomas downed Bell 8-5 to win the 2015 1A 195 lb. title

Thomas downed Bell 8-5 to win the 2015 1A 195 lb. title

  • Summary: Fewer wrestlers will enter for their final state tournament as a greater favorite than Ryan Thomas of American Heritage (Delray Beach).  Thomas, a returning 2x State Champion, is significantly better than the field and that should be evident if you spend some time watching this weight class.  It doesn't mean that Thomas can't be beat ... it just means that if we were putting money down ... we would put it on Thomas.  Collins, a returning State Placer at 195, is probably his greatest competition, but will need to face Thomas in the Saturday morning semifinal if he is going to knock off the reigning champ.  The bottom side is wide open with just returning two state qualifiers (Brown and Mesa) and a few new faces.  Brown and Mesa will face one another in the 1st round in the 3rd quarter of the bracket with the winner likely getting Flynn of Crystal River.  Expect Isnardi to be pushed by Williams in the bottom quarter and the winner of that match could be in the finals Saturday afternoon/evening.  

220 lbs.

  • Favorite: Anthony Contegiacomo (Nature Coast) - R2 1st; 2nd @ 220 in '15
  • Contenders:
    • Bradley Clement (American Heritage Plantation) - R4 1st; 5th @ 220 in '15
    • Ben Goldin (Lake Highland Prep) - 5th @ 195 in '15
    • Randy Koscak (Arnold) - R1 1st, SQ @ 195 (2-2) in '15
    • Judas McKenzie (Dunar) - R3 1st
    • Scott Dollison (Episcopal) - 3A 3rd @220 in '15
  • Best 1st Round Match: Whitehouse vs. Escorcia
  • Darkhorse: Matt Whitehouse (Atlantic)
  • Bracket Breaker: Andrew Vazquez (Somerset Academy)
  • Finals: Clement vs. Contegiacomo
  Enmon beat Contegiacomo 11-5 to win the 2015 1A 220 lb. title

Enmon beat Contegiacomo 11-5 to win the 2015 1A 220 lb. title

  • Summary:  Picking a favorite from the top side of the bracket is actually quite difficult.  Koscak, Goldin, Escorcia, and Clement are returnign State Qualifiers.  Goldin, Escorcia, and Clement are returning State Placers and Escorcia (the Region 3 Runner-up) is the highest returning placer after finishing 3rd at 220 in 2015.  Those two quarterfinal bouts will be pay-per-view worthy and will provide some of the best match-ups of that round.  Returning State Runner-up Anthony Contegiacomo of Nature Coast is the favorite on the bottom side of the bracket, but his path is also extremely difficult.  3A State Placer Scott Dollison moved to Episcopal and is a legitimate threat to knock off everyone in the bracket ... he and Contegiacomo could battle it out in the 3rd quarterfinal.  Dunbar's Judas McKenzie had a terrific Region 3 tournament and is in position to make a run at the finals as well.  

285 lbs.

  • Favorite: Dante Jiovenetta (Coral Shores) - R4 1st; 1st @ 285 in '15
  • Contenders:
    • Dean Brooks (Weeki Wachee) - R2 1st; 6th @ 285 in '15
    • Conor Chepanik (Episcopal) - R1 1st; SQ @ 220 (0-2) in '15
    • Kristopher Bozeman (Tenoroc) - R3 1st
    • Jacob Marin (Wakulla)
    • George Ellis (American Heritage Plantation)
  • Best 1st Round Match: Grundy vs. Ellis
  • Darkhorse: Roland Samec (Clay) - SQ @ 285 (1-2) in '15
  • Bracket Breaker: Devaughn Stephens (Godby)
  • Finals: Brooks vs. Jiovenetta
  Jiovenetta beat Ivie 6-2 to win the 2015 1A 285 lb. title

Jiovenetta beat Ivie 6-2 to win the 2015 1A 285 lb. title

  • Summary: Excellent weight class that is headlined by returning 285 lb. State Champion Dante Jiovenetta of Coral Shores.  Jiovenetta, a future Missouri Tiger, has been on his game for the last 2 years (including a National Title in Fargo this past summer) and his only hiccup came to 2A State Placer Mike Delago of Ft Myers at the Ippolito a few weeks ago.  It would be a huge surprise if Jiovenetta isn't back in the finals in 2016.  The top side should be a battle between Chepenik, Morales, Glover, Grundy, Ellis, and Brooks.  Krawjewski and Stephens should be tough 1st round matches, but to be on the podium they will likely need to wrestle well on the backside of the bracket.  Grundy vs. Ellis is perhaps the best 1st round match at 285 with the winner likely getting returning State Placer Brooks.  Chepenik's win in the Region 1 finals tells you all you need to know about his chances ... he is going to be a tough out for anyone on the top side.  Just hint ... if you are watching ... be sure to watch for a Jiovenetta throw or two.