Prep Zone Insider

By: Mike Ridaught

Where did January go?

It doesn’t really seem that long ago that we were broadcasting some of the top boys’ high school basketball teams in the state at the Kingdom of the Sun at Ocala Vanguard (Dec. 26-29).  But now, after this weekend, the regular season will be over.

You can say the same thing about the other winter sports’ seasons too.

They flew by.

It’s already the state finals in girls’ soccer next weekend (Feb. 8-9).  Their season will be over before Valentine’s Day.

Then, later that weekend, the boys will be done too, along with weightlifting.

This past Tuesday, we had the Gainesville wrestling team on “The Prep Zone,” our weekly high school show at Sonic.

We were joined by head coach Ryland Wagner, who led GHS to a state runners-up finish in 2006, along with four of his wrestlers.  His career has span 20 years with the Hurricanes as a wrestler, assistant coach and head coach.  He has coached five state champions and has had six top-10 state finishes.
It was interesting to talk about the terminology associated with the sport – like cross-face cradle and near falls.

A cross-face is defined as “a ground hold secured by putting one hand across the side of their opponent’s face and grasping his opposite arm above the elbow,” while Near Falls is “an occurrence in which a wrestler’s shoulders are pinned to the mat for a count of two, but the wrestler manages to escape before the referee’s hand hits the mat a third time, which would signify a pinfall.”

Senior Thomas Herlevich, who was a guest on the show, holds the school record for single season and career Near falls.  He has 153 career wins and is currently ranked #7 in the state.

Other wrestlers included junior Matt Tamayo, who leads the team in wins, junior Marcellus Boyd and senior Wade Jones.

The ‘Canes are coming off their third city championship and head to Eastside on Saturday for the district tournament.  Participating teams are Gainesville, Eastside, Palatka, Ocala West Port, Ocala Vanguard, Ocala Lake Weir and Belleview.

Girls’ basketball has already begun its postseason too with this week’s district tournaments.

The first round of the FHSAA state playoffs is Feb. 7 for the girls and Feb. 14 for the boys.  Next week will be the boys’ basketball district tournaments.

We’re looking forward to broadcasting from St. Francis Catholic (Gainesville) for the Class 3A-District 3 Tournament.  Our ‘live’ coverage will include audio and video of the entire tournament, beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m. as Oak Hall (Gainesville) takes on St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park).  The semifinals are on Friday as PK Yonge (Gainesville) plays St. Joseph (St. Augustine), followed by top-seed St. Francis Catholic and Tuesday night’s winner.  Those games are at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

Plus, we’ll have ‘live’ audio of the Class 1A-District 7 Semifinals & Championship games at Newberry.  Chiefland plays Baldwin and top-seeded Union County, which advanced to the final four last year in Class 1A, will get the winner of the Newberry-Dixie County game on Tuesday.

That’s seven games ‘live’ on the Prep Zone Sports Network, plus state playoff coverage on 105 The Game (104.9 FM) beginning on Valentine’s Day night.

Last, but certainly not least, is National Signing Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.

So even though January seemed to come and go so quickly, you didn’t miss any of the excitement.  Now the real fun begins.