Six Broward County wrestlers left Kissimmee’s Silver Spurs Arena with silver medals at the end of last season.
The ones returning for another potential run to state want to trade those for some gold this time around.
Only Somerset Academy’s Raekwon Reggler, now a freshman at Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, conquered the Class 1A 182-pound weight class to win the county’s lone state championship last season.
Although no Broward team entered the season Monday as an overwhelming favorite to win a state title, there are numerous individuals who could end up at the top of the podium in March.
Cardinal Gibbons experienced the bittersweet “bridesmaid” feeling four times last season with four of the county’s individual runners-up, which led to the Chiefs falling short of what would have been their sixth state title all-time.
The Chiefs, ranked No. 4 in the state in Class 1A by Scout.com, return only three seniors from that squad but are still talented and hungry for redemption.
Leading the way is senior Dominick Gibson, the only returner from the group of second-place finishers. Gibson enters the season as one of the favorites in the 120-pound weight class. Gibson and fellow senior Julian Georgescu (170 pounds) are favorites to win county and state championships in their respective weight classes.
Sophomore Gabrial Gibson, junior Michael Lopouchanski and junior Joey Lopez lead a strong group of underclassmen that should help the Chiefs develop over the course of the season and challenge reigning 1A champ Orlando Lake Highland Prep.
Gibbons figures to contend for overall Broward supremacy mainly with rival St. Thomas Aquinas and a Cypress Bay squad improving under veteran coach Allen Held.
The Class 3A field is expected to be dominated by Miami-Dade County, which enters the year with the top three teams in the state — South Dade, Southwest and Southridge.
But St. Thomas Aquinas, ranked eighth, figures to be the strongest in Broward in this group.
Sophomore Grant Aronoff, a state runner-up last year at 138 pounds following a 47-0 season to that point, leads the team. Joining Aronoff are senior 170-pounder Josiah Gittman, junior 145-pounder Bryce Marcus and junior Stephen Moreno, who placed fourth at state last year as a sophomore at Miami Monsignor Pace.
Cypress Bay will be led by sophomore Amadeus Concepcion, a solid state title contender at 152 pounds, and seniors Carlos Osterling (195 pounds), Justin Cohen (132) and Glen Eisman (182).
Dec. 4-5: H-Town throwdown at Hialeah; Cardinal Gibbons Duals; Beach Brawl at Miami Beach; East Lake Tournament; Coral Springs Duals; Somerset tournament; Joe Mac Duals.
Dec. 11-12: Graves Invitational; John Lyzott Memorial Tournament.
Dec. 18-19: District 16 Duals; Coral Park Duals.
Jan. 8-9: Maverick Invitational.
Jan. 15-16: Battle at the Bay Duals.
Jan. 22-23: Tri-County championships at Olympic Heights.
Feb. 5-6: BCAA championship.
Feb. 12-13: Raich Invitational.
Feb. 15-20: Districts.
Feb. 26-27: Regionals.
Mar. 4-5: State championship at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.
DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS
Class 3A: South Dade; 2A: Brandon; 1A: Orlando Lake Highland Prep.
106: Raiden Johnson, Coral Springs, Fr. 120: Stephen Moreno, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jr. 120: Dominick Gibson, Cardinal Gibbons, Sr. 126: Gabrial Gibson, Cardinal Gibbons, So. 138: Grant Aronoff, St. Thomas Aquinas, So. 145: Joey Lopez, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr. 152: Amadeus Concepcion, Cypress Bay, So. 160: Michael Lopouchanski, Cardinal Gibbons, Jr. 170: Julian Georgescu, Cardinal Gibbons, Sr. 220: Bradley Clement, American Heritage, Sr. HWT: Berthony Aulean, South Broward, Sr.
Others to watch — 106: Nadhelo Charles Pierre, Everglades, Jr.; Anthony Valverde, South Broward, Jr.; 113: Chris Riley, Somerset, Sr.; Andrew Valverde, South Broward, Jr.; Carson Walcott, Calvary Christian, So.; 120: Anthony Silvestre, Hollywood Hills, Sr.; Colby Singletary, Somerset, 8th; 126: Nicholas Benton, Somerset, 8th; Carlin Emmanuel, Stranahan, Sr.; Vinny Sessa, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jr.; 132: Ozzy Ley, Cardinal Gibbons, So.; Max Wigutow, St. Thomas Aquinas, So.; 138: Vinnie Blasucci, Somerset, Jr.; Kiesean Stephens, Coral Springs, Sr.; 145: Bryce Marcus, St. Thomas Aquinas, Jr.; Isaiah Martinez, Somerset, Sr.; 160: Nicholas Nogradi, Everglades, Sr.; 170: Josiah Gittman, St. Thomas Aquinas, Sr.; Kevin Soltis, Coral Springs Charter, Sr.; 182: Benson Dorvil, Coconut Creek, Sr.; 195: Carlos Osterling, Cypress Bay, Sr.; 220: Joseph Bolton-Henry, Plantation, Sr.; Robert Valverde, South Broward, Sr.; HWT: De’Andre Carr, Stranahan, Jr.
TOP RANKED TEAMS
1. Cardinal Gibbons, 2. St. Thomas Aquinas, 3. Cypress Bay, 4. Somerset Academy, 5. Cooper City, 6. Coral Springs, 7. McArthur, 8. South Broward, 9. Miramar, 10. Deerfield Beach.
Team-by-team capsules: www.miamiherald.com/high-schools
DEERFIELD BEACH (Coach James L. Forbes, 4th year at DB, 7th overall, 49-71-2). Last year: 14-6. Top wrestlers: Ryan Sills, Sr. (145); Andrew Torres, Sr. (220).
DOUGLAS (Coach Mike Bruno, 1st year). Last year: 8-9. Top wrestlers: Jesse O’neil (145); Michael Komatz (138); Zachary Hellar (160); Frank Voudy (182); Ricky Marnell (132).
EVERGLADES (Coach Eric Hughes, 9th year). Last year: 28-12. Top wrestlers: Nicholas Nogradi, Sr. (160); Nadhelo Charles Pierre, Jr. (106); Austin Arsenic, Sr. (132-138); Josh Gibson, Sr. (170); Fernando Guzman, Sr. (132-138); Aaron Badrudeen, Jr. (113-120).
MCARTHUR (Coach Mike Zarra, 11th year at McA, 19th overall, 201-90). Last year: 28-13. Top wrestlers: Nick Rosado, Jr. (170); DuShane Tenn, Sr. (113); Joseph Corrie, Sr. (138); Maxwell Dorsey, Jr. (152); Adrian Garro, Sr. (195); Nelson Chua, Jr. (106).
ARCHBISHOP MCCARTHY (Coach Enzo Grossi, 4th year at AM, 12th overall). Last year: N/A. Top wrestlers: Scott Thrasher, Jr. (132); Kyle Fuxa, Jr. (145); Daniel Marohnic, So. (170); Chris Umana, So. (170); JT Lockwood, So. (160); Spencer Giraldo, Sr. (195); David Toledo, Sr. (182).
SOUTH BROWARD (Coach Randy Qualitza, 2nd year at SB, 36th overall, 344-203-3). Last year: 19-7. Top wrestlers: Berthony Aulean, Sr. (HWT); Robert Valverde, Sr. (220); Andrew Valverde, Jr. (113); Anthony Valverde, Jr. (106); Andre L’abadie, Sr. (145); James Tucker, Jr. (120).
STRANAHAN (Coach Thomas Harrison, 12th year, 110-72). Last year: 10-10. Top wrestlers: De’Andre Carr, Jr. (HWT); Carlin Emmanuel, Sr. (126); Trent Boudreau, Sr. (170).
CALVARY CHRISTIAN (Coach Walter Weidler, 1st year at CC, 4th overall, 28-10). Last year: N/A. Top wrestlers: Michael Sarron, 8th (106); Carson Walcott, So. (113); Max Hume, So. (170); Kevin Mesa, Sr. (160).
CARDINAL GIBBONS (Coach Frank Pettineo, 29th year, 785-46). Last year: 43-1 (State runner-up). Top wrestlers: Dominick Gibson, Sr. (120); Julian Georgescu, Sr. (170); Gabrial Gibson, So. (126); Michel Lopouchanski, Jr. (160); Joey Lopez, Jr. (140); Shawn Walker, Sr. (220); Chris Williams, Jr. (182); Ozzi Ley, So. (132).
CHAMINADE-MADONNA (Coach Henry Jackson, 17th overall). Last year: 10-24. Top wrestlers: Joey Scirghio, So. (113); Nicholas Wareham, Jr. (138); Jarrell Hobor, Jr. (182); Aubrey Holiday, Jr. (160); Camron Phillip, Jr. (195); Noah Krell, Jr. (113).