Team Race: Year in and year out, Cardinal Gibbons is one of the top teams in both Region 4 and 1A. The 2015-2016 season should be no different. Gibbons must replace a number of wrestlers that have graduated, or in the case of Erich Byelick transferred, but the Chiefs have the pieces to be in the conversation again in 2016. They return eight including 120 lb. State Runner-up Dominick Gibson and State Placer Julian Georgescu. Gibbons reign at the top of Region 4 is far from a certainty. There are a number of teams that return numbers and quality and could take the title in 2016. The group is led by Key West. The Conchs finished the 2015 Region 4 tournament 4th, but return nine including State Placers Calab Ashe and Nickolas Piraino and State Qualifier Joseph Casasola. American Heritage (Delray Beach) with returning 195 lb. Champion Ryan Thomas and 113 lb. State Runner-up Frankie Talshahar will be extremely tough to beat. With Talshahar, Somerset Academy may have been the team to beat, but without him they will need some new faces to step up and help State Qualifiers Nicholas Benton, Vincent Blasucci, and Isaiah Martinez. All three teams have a legitimate shot at knocking off Gibbons. Keep an eye on Keys Gate, Monsignor Pace, Miami Jackson, and Calvary Christian. Each has some outstanding individuals, but will need some help if they are going to topple Gibbons, Key West, and the other top teams in 2016.
Contenders: Twelve Region 4 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Kissimmee. Four of the 12 wrestled for a State Title last season, two, Dante Jiovenetta of Coral Shores and Ryan Thomas of American Heritage (Delray Beach) captured the top step. Jiovenetta used a big throw to down Pasco’s Andrew Ivie 6-2 and claim the 285 lb. title. Thomas used great positioning to down Cardinal Gibbons Diego Bell 8-5 for the 195 lb. title. Frankie Talshahar, wrestling for Somerset Academy at the time, of American Heritage (Delray Beach) fell in the 113 lb. final to phenomenal freshman Joey Silva of LHP 15-4 and Dominick Gibson of Cardinal Gibbons lost a very close match to Keys Gate 8th grader, and now South Dade freshman, Brevin Balmaceda 4-3 at 120 lbs. All four should be amongst the favorites entering the 2015-2016 season.
Dylan Morse (106) of American Heritage (Delray Beach) and Calab Ashe (126) of Key West capped off outstanding State Tournaments by taking 3rd. Morse fell to 106 lb. Runner-up Jacob Conrad of Tampa Prep 4-0 in the semifinals and Ashe dropped a 7-2 decision to eventual 126 lb. Champion Richard McClanahan of Arnold. Both will be looking to get over the semifinal hump in 2016 and be wrestling for a title Saturday evening. Six wrestlers found the podium in 2015, but will need to wrestle well and overcome some excellent competition if they are going to claim an individual title Saturday evening. They include: Bradley Clement (5th at 220) and Dominick Venturi (6th at 145) of American Heritage (Plantation), Julian Georgescu (6th at 170) of Cardinal Gibbons, Stephen Moreno (4th at 113) and Alexander Perez (4th at 138) of Monsignor Pace, and Nickolas Piraino (5th at 106) of Key West.
Hunting the Podium: Twenty-one Region 3 wrestlers qualified for the State Tournament in 2015, but failed to make the podium. Just Joseph Casasola of Key West finished with two or more wins and has a legitimate shot at landing very high on the podium in 2016. Lucas Seeger of Calvary Christian, Gabriel Gibson, Joseph Lopez, and Michael Lopouchanski of Cardinal Gibbons, Kevin Soltis of Coral Springs Charter, and Ron Evans and Todd Perry of Keys Gate finished 1-2 in Kissimmee in 2015. Each will be looking to improve on that mark and find the podium in 2016. Nicholas DeSola and Lamonte McDougle of American Heritage (Delray Beach), Odinald Celestin of Glades Central, Dalton McClain of Calvary Christian, Sean Walker of Cardinal Gibbons, Benson Dorvil of Coconut Creek, Andres Chao of Mater Lakes, Brandon Petit of Miami Jackson, Nicholas Benton, Vincent Blasucci, and Isaiah Martinez of Somerset Academy, Ernest Gerald of Miami Washington, and Wanderley Mesa of Pinecrest Prep finished their 2015 trip to Kissimmee 0-2. Each member of that group will be looking to be on the podium in 2016, but must wrestle much better in 2016 if any is going to medal.
Under the Radar: Many of the following wrestlers finished the 2015 Region Tournament with two or more wins. Don’t be surprised if each punches his ticket to Kissimmee in 2016. Win four matches in a row in Kissimmee and you are a State Champion. That isn’t likely, but each could find the podium if given the opportunity. Better keep an eye on the following: Kyle Olesen of Cardinal Newman, Errol Pottinger of Ft Pierce Westwood, Eric Barns, Vince Napolitana, and Dorson St. Phard of Jupiter Christian, Jerrel Hobor of Chaminade-Madonna, Austin Henriquez of Mater Lakes, Brandon Bodden, Alejandro Estrada, Devon Smith, Kymani Ventura, and Tarvis Williams of Miami Jackson, Vladimir Rochebrun of Monsignor Pace, D’mitrius Estevez, Daniel Valledor, Andrew Vazquez, and Juan Vernaza of Somerset Academy, Claudest Sherman of Miami Washington, Shane Davis, Isaac Exilus, William Gregurich, Josh Hettel, and Oscar Lacayo of Key West, Jose Santiago and Kane Vandamark of Keys Gate, Tyler Orta of Westminster Christian, and Jorge Puig of Riviera Prep.