Team Race: Every year, except perhaps last season, South Dade enters the season looking a bit vulnerable with so many departing senior State Champions or State Placers. The 2015-2016 season is no different. The Bucs lose State Champions Crosby and Lugo III, State Placers Delisca, Ramirez, and Sierra as well as a number of State Qualifiers. But each season it seems that the Bucs are back in the thick of a 3A title run. It wouldn’t be surprising if that were the case again in 2015-2016. The Bucs return five that have could, and two that have, claimed the top step and countless others that will be called on to score points. If the Bucs do fall to another Region 4 foe, it is likely to be either Miami Southridge or Southwest Miami. The Spartans of Southridge return eight that have 2015 post-season experience including State Champion Jordan Marshall and State Placers Darius Hamilton, Randy McCray, and Antony Kinsey. For the Spartans to claim the Region 4 title, Melchesidek Juedy, Alberto Mendoza, Marcos Perez, and Luis Rios will need to play a major role. Southwest Miami returns seven with 2015 post-season experience including State Placers Franco Valdes, Adolfo Sotolongo, and Angel Del Cueto and State Qualifiers Willie Brown and Alex Uriquiza. How far Alean Gonzalez and Shemar Smith go will go a long way in determining if the Eagles can claim the title in 2016. Keep an eye on Braddock, Columbus, North Miami, and Cypress Bay. All four have some outstanding individuals and if they can get their “supporting casts” to score points and advance each could be a very dangerous team.
Contenders: Fourteen Region 4 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Kissimmee. Nine of the fourteen that made the podium in 2015 also wrestled in the finals Saturday evening. Three featured rematches of a Region 4 battle a week earlier. Five of those wrestlers are back and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go at it again in 2016. South Dade’s Ozzy Lugo and Southwest Miami’s Franco Valdes treated the fans to one of the most exciting of matches of the evening. Lugo emerged victorious in the tiebreaker and claimed his 2nd state title of his career. Braddock’s Alex Victor was able to once again get his offense moving and downed Miami Southridge’s Randy McCray 9-3 to claim the 106 lb. title. Could the two go at it again in 2016? Jordan Marshall of Miami Southridge outlasted Curtis Cannon of South Dade 5-2 to claim the 120 lb. title. The only other returning State Champion is freshman Brevin Balmaceda, a transfer from Keys Gate, of South Dade. Three other Region 4 wrestlers, Darius Hamilton of Miami Southridge, and Chei Hill and Kyron Taylor of South Dade fell in the finals a season ago. All three fell in close matches and will look to claim their first title in 2016.
Anthony Kinsey (3rd at 132) of Miami Southridge, Bryan Dominguez (4th at 132) of Braddock and Adolfo Sotolongo (4th at 182) of Southwest Miami finished the 2015 season in the consolation finals. Each has the ability to take the top step in 2016, but will need to wrestle extremely well to knock off those in their way. Angel Del Cueto (6th at 138) of Southwest Miami and Elijah Varona (6th at 106) of South Dade all finished on the podium in 2015. Each has a legitimate shot at the top step, but will need to bring their “A” game if they are going to take the top step in 2016. Varona had a tremendous summer and should be considered one of the favorites to claim the 3A 106 lb. title.
Hunting the Podium: Fifteen Region 4 wrestlers qualified for the State Tournament in 2015, but failed to make the podium. Deandre Chery of North Miami and Salvador Lopez of Braddock finished the 2015 tournament with two or more wins and are likely candidates to be high on the podium in 2016. Anthony Silvestre of Hollywood Hills, Edgar Martinez of Columbus, Anthony Vizcaino of Coral Gables, Willie Brown and Alex Uriquiza of Southwest Miami, and Romoan Chester of Miami Palmetto finished 1-2 in Kissimmee in 2015. Each will be looking to improve on that mark and find the podium in 2016. Carlos Osterling of Cypress Bay, Yisreal Londono of Western, David Mompoint of North Miami, Anthony Codinach and Mikael Codinach of Columbus, Emmanuel Nordelo of South Miami, and Isaac Eskenazi of Homestead 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 13: Isaiah Deal, Nick Gonzalez, Nick Guzman, Liam Jones, Jacob Jordan, Jozef Macugoski, and Christian Pullam of Cooper City, Adonis Concepcion, Amadeus Concepcion, Glen Eisman, Ignacio Fuertes, Alex Mason, and Nick Perkins of Cypress Bay, Nicholas Nogradi of Flanagan, Bryce Gamboa, Alejandro Heuck, and Aaron Williams of Hollywood Hills,
District 14: Adrian Perez of Miami Beach, Jonas Cherenfant and Thierry Lafortune of North Miami, and Andres Gejo of Reagan.
District 15: Kyle Mann of Columbus, Carlos Leon, Jahaan Rasheed, and Jaafari Stephens of Coral Gables, Nicolas Mira of Miami Senior, Marus Abreu of Miami Coral Park, and Alean Gonzalez and Shemar Smith of Southwest Miami.
District 16: Giovanny Mentor of Varela, Brandon Maloney of Coral Reef, Ryan Boncamper of Miami Killian, William Barrows, James Findlay, and Cardeionte Wilson of Miami Palmetto, and Melchesidek Juedy, Alberto Mendoza, Marcos Perez, and Luis Rios of Miami Southridge.