Team Race: Lincoln has controlled the 2A Region 1 team race for many years. The Trojans lose a significant amount of firepower and return just one wrestler, Jaycie Rudd, with State Tournament experience. Is 2015-2016 the season another team ascends to the top or will the Trojans once again find a way to keep a stranglehold on the Region? The most likely candidate to knock off the Trojans is cross-town rival Tallahassee Leon. Leon returns just seven, but four of those are hammers. Gabriel Beyer (2nd at 285), David Joseph Grant (5th at 182), Jonathan Grant and Justin Grant will score significant points in the 2016 Region 1 Tournament. If the Lions are going to overtake the Trojans they will need others to step up and score points. As Lincoln and Leon battle it out, there are several other teams with a legitimate shot to overtake both. Keep an eye on Middleburg, Orange Park, and Ed White. Middleburg and Orange Park both return State Placers, but lack the overall numbers to make them the clear favorite heading into the 2015-2016 season. Ed White returns State Qualifiers Atyrus McDonald and Darien Tucker and eight others with 2015 post-season experience. Both Ft Walton Beach and Pace are on the outside, but are ready to pounce if the opportunity presents itself.
Contenders: Just four Region 1 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Kissimmee. Gabriel Beyer (2nd at 285) and David Joseph Grant (5th at 182) of Leon, Jonathon Shoen (6th at 170) of Middleburg, and Marcus Reid Jr. (6th at 113) of Orange Park all found the podium in 2015. Beyer dropped a narrow 7-6 (overtime) decision to Riverdale’s Cole Schneider. Expect Beyer to be back in the mix for a title in 2016. Grant, Shoen, and Reid, finished much further down the podium and will need to excel this season if any of the three are going to take the top step in 2016.
Hunting the Podium: Fifteen Region 1 wrestlers qualified for the State Tournament in 2015, but failed to make the podium. Dylan Rossetti of Middleburg is the only Region 1 wrestler to finish the 2015 tournament with two or more wins. Rossetti is the one qualifier that has a legitimate shot at landing very high on the podium in 2016. Anthony Krevatas of Pace, Jonathan Grant and Justin Grant of Leon, Jaycie Rudd of Lincoln, Atyrus McDonald and Darien Tucker of Ed White, and Christian Van Sickel of Creekside finished 1-2 in Kissimmee in 2015. Each will be looking to improve on that mark and find the podium in 2016. Robert Wood of Tate, Tahj Brennen and Traevon O’Neal of Gainesville, Brandon Dickman of Creekside, Maverick Dennis of Matanzas, Tristan Lucessi of Nease, and Kristopher Smith of St Augustine 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: Nelson Elder and Sam Mason of Choctawhatchee, Diego Calonje and Josh Cantwell of Crestview, Chase Cleveland, Brian Haynes, and Joseph Pearson of Ft Walton Beach, Noah Losievsky of Gulf Breeze, Dominic Cerillo and Jack Johnson of Niceville, Leland Knoch of Pace, Gaven McAnally of Tate, Logan Mellor, Austin Nolan, and Robert Williams of Chiles, Chace Curtis, Joshua Lynch, and Marcus Zeighler of Columbia, Cornelius Brown, Michael Crowder, Isaac Gutierrez, and David Jackson of Lincoln, Vernon Jackson, Kelton Johnson, Sergio Jordan, and Juwan Lee of Ed White, Joel King and Ammon Meeks of Middleburg, Trevor Belden and Justin Trinh of Ridgeview, Anthony Stith and John Wilson of Bartram Trail, Gus Fischer and William Lulias of Creekside, Jordin Castanheira and Rocky Samples of Matanzas, and Dustin Vara of St Augustine.