Team Race: Wrestling fans in Southwest Florida are provided a treat each February with the battle between schools for the 2A Region 3 team title. A season ago, Charlotte held off Palmetto Ridge by 4.5 points and managed to hold Riverdale and Ft Myers at bay to claim the team title. Expect the 2016 edition of the 2A Region 3 tournament to be no different. Riverdale with returning 285 lb. State Champion Cole Schneider and State Placers James Monos, Jesse Pryor, and Hunter Weeks are probably the early favorites to capture the title. Palmetto Ridge, Ft Myers, and Dunedin are the teams most likely to push the Raiders. All three teams are deep and have some very talented individuals. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of them claim the title. Charlotte, the defending champs, lost some significant firepower and will need to reload with some new faces behind Rubenacker, Mansfield, and Mills if they are going to win it again in 2016. Don’t sleep on East Lake, Dixie Hollins, Palmetto, Venice, and Mariner. Each would need some help to be in contention, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Contenders: Fourteen Region 3 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Kissimmee. Two State Champions, Joey Nadotti at 160 of Palmetto Ridge and Cole Schneider at 285 of Riverdale return to defend their 2015 titles. Nadotti, after a quarterfinal scare, cruised to the 160 lb. title with an 11-5 semifinal win over Blake Doerr of Gulf Breeze (who ended up 3rd), and a 6-0 finals win over Travon Norman of Homestead. Schneider’s path was much more difficult. One could argue the 2A 285 lb. bracket is the deepest of any bracket in Kissimmee. Schneider won a close 7-6 overtime match against Leon’s Gabriel Beyer in the finals. 2A 285 in 2015-2016 isn’t likely to be much different and Schneider will have to bring his “A” game if he is going to win another one. Three Region 3 wrestlers, James Monos (106) of Riverdale, Keaton Koselke (138) of Mariner, and Colten Thomas (132) of Ft Myers fell in the finals in 2015. All three are determined to not let that happen in 2016 and each should be considered amongst the favorites entering this season.
Jesse Pryor (3rd at 220) of Riverdale, Mike Delago (4th at 285) of Ft. Myers, Leonel Barboza (3rd at 152) of Palmetto, Jalen Soto (3rd at 120) of Cypress Lake, and Clifton Thomas (4th at 195) of Dixie Hollins all made the consolation finals in 2015 and will look to improve on that in 2015-2016. All five should be considered a significant threat to capture an individual title in 2016. Hunter Weeks (6th at 145) of Riverdale, Brendan Ditro (5th at 138) of Dunedin, Julian Santos (6th at 285) of East Lake, and Ryan Rubenacker (6th at 106) of Charlotte each finished the 2015 State Tournament on the podium. Each will need a superb effort if any is going to claim the top step in 2016.
Hunting the Podium: Seventeen Region 3 wrestlers qualified for the State Tournament in 2015, but failed to make the podium. Thomas Bujalski of Dunedin, Josh McGinnis of East Lake, Christian Sharbono of Braden River and Dalton Mills of Charlotte finished the 2015 tournament with two or more wins and are likely candidates to be high on the podium in 2016. Michael Dunlap, Colton Ness, and Stephen Nicholls of Dunedin, Trevor Mansfield of Charlotte, Brent Smallwood of Venice, Nick Richards of Ida Baker, Kyle Nesbit of Estero, and Rocco Pereira of Palmetto Ridge finished 1-2 in Kissimmee in 2015. Each will be looking to improve on that mark and find the podium in 2016. Hunter Gast of Dunedin, Jacob Mathis of Venice, Matt McQuinn of Ft Myers, Jared Galan of Riverdale, and Andy Hernandez of Palmetto Ridge 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 from:
District 9: Darquell Pierre of Boca Ciega, Robert Miller and Jensen Rice of Clearwater, Zachary Addis, Dalton Busch, Drew Harrington, Brandon Nevitt, Jesse Smith, and William Ward of Dixie Hollins, Jakub Stetz of Dunedin, Stephen Araca, Drew Dougherty, and Isaac Gomez of East Lake, and Connor McNally of Northeast.
District 10: Thaddeus Johnson of Palmetto, Jacob Figur of Sebring, and Alberto LaCoutre and Nick Vischulis of Venice.
District 11: Jayson Johnson and Hadley Vadyak of Ft Myers, Mike Sorrentino of Island Coast, Dalton Beyer, Kelvin Gonzalez, and Cesar Yammamoto of Mariner, Joey Ciganek and Peter Joseph of North Ft Myers, and Jarrett Chandler, Gage Schield, and Daniel Williamson of Riverdale.
District 12: CJ Robles of Barron Collier, Ryan Davis and Casco Monix of East Lee County, Brian Opalensky of Estero, Giovanni Restrepo of Golden Gate, Dean Nunziato of Gulf Coast, John Justus of Naples, Bruce Estanislao and Ryne Rosenbalm of Palmetto Ridge, and Joseph Cilibrasi and Jordari Rene of South Ft Myers.