Its go time!  Our last match before districts.


6:30 JV start time, Varsity at 7:30 pm  Its Senior Night-wear white to show support of your seniors. #GiddyUp


#4 Charlotte Tarpons vs #3 Riverdale Raiders by Jack Delago

Another week, another huge dual in Southwest Florida. The event will be held at Riverdale High School, as the Raiders welcome the Charlotte Tarpons as their Senior Night competition. It will be the final home dual of the season for Riverdale's seniors Cole Schneider, Hunter Weeks, Ryan Dormevil, Al Theard, & Emily Cheshire.


Schneider has recently accepted a scholarship to play football at the University of Central Florida, but he still has some unfinished business on the wrestling mat. A state champion two years ago, Schneider saw his chances derailed a year ago with an untimely injury. He was still able to manage placement, but he definitely wants to finish on top of the podium as a senior. Weeks also looks to make it to the top of the podium after finishing 6th as a sophomore and 3rd a year ago. He is on target for a return trip and will be entering the tournament as one of the favorites in his weight class. Dormevil is somewhat of a newcomer to wrestling and is in his first varsity year with the Raiders but has already proven to be one of the best in Lee County with his second place finish in the conference tournament.


The Tarpons are no strangers to the Raider grapplers. Year in and year out, these two teams battle it out as Southwest Florida's best and most talented teams. This year is no different as both teams come in with fairly young lineups but still have demonstrated the consistency of their programs. The teams will likely win their District crowns and then square off at the Regional Tournament. The Tarpons are led by Donovan Cataldi, TJ Gerde, and Dalton Mills. Other Tarpons of note are James Paull, Tyler Midkiff, and Matt Gjerde.


The Raiders have a number of wrestlers fighting the flu as this is being written, but hopes are that both teams will have their full lineups available. Tentative matchups based upon recent results:


106 - Donavan Cataldi(CH) v Tajh Clayton/Emily Cheshire(RIV) - Cataldi is just a freshman but is not stranger to anyone that follows the sport as he had a great youth wrestling career. He is currently ranked 3rd by Florida Wrestling News and 4th by He is coming off a 2nd place finish at the prestigious Ippolito Memorial Tournament. Clayton is currently ranked 4th by FWN and 15th by TWN and recently won the LCAC crown.

113 - Ted Gjerde(CH) v Lleyton Taylor/Tristen Lee(RIV) - Gjerde comes in ranked 13th by FWN and unranked by TWN. Just a sophomore, he took 5th at Ippolito and 3rd at Captain Archer. Taylor is ranked 4th by FWN and 6th by TWN and most recently was crowned the Champion at LCAC. These are two talented 10th graders that will be squaring off for state placement this year and over the next 2 years as well.

120 - Malachi Schaeffer(CH) vs Caleb Cavanagh(RIV) - Cavanagh comes in as the favorite here, has a #14 ranking in FWN while Schaeffer is not currently ranked. Cavanagh came in 3rd at LCAC and was the runner up at Captain Archer.

126 - Jacob Woodard(CH) v Coleby Barnes(RIV) - Another sophomore, Woodard comes into this event unranked by either source but currently has a winning record. Barnes is ranked 15th by FWN and was 3rd at LCAC. Two sophomores that are going to be making noise over the next couple of years.

132 - Matthew Gjerde(CH) v Chance Gagneur(RIV) - Gjerde is a senior, looking to make it through the season healthy and make a state run. He is currently ranked 14th by FWN and has slipped under the radar on TWN. He took third at Ippolito this past weekend and was in the finals at Captain Archer. Gagneur is not currently ranked but could make some noise by taking Gjerde out here. 

138 - James Paull(CH) v Terrence Clayton/Jared Pingry(RIV) - Paull made it to the Finals of the Ippolito tournament before losing to a nationally ranked opponent. Paull is unranked by TWN but is 5th in FWN's rankings. Clayton is also unranked but is on the verge and has had some nice outings recently. He was second at LCAC and beat Paull head to head at Captain Archer in a match that went into overtime.

145 - Bryce Peterson(CH) v Nelson Ortiz(RIV) - Peterson had a solid freshman season but has found it a little tougher this year at a higher weight. He is not ranked but is still a dangerous adversary. Ortiz had a big day at LCAC, taking first with 3 pins and a dec in the Finals match. Nelson is currently ranked 5th by FWN and 6th by TWN.

152 - Anthony Cavanagh(CH) v Jesse Martinez/Austin Solomon (RIV) - The Junior Cavanagh comes in ranked at 152 by FWN. He took 4th at the Captain Archer tournament and will be a contender to qualify for state. Martinez showed why he is a state championship contender with two impressive wins last week, including a dec over the defending state runner up in this weight. He is ranked 1st by FWN and should be #1 in next week's update at TWN.

160 - Yvens Candio(CH) v Hunter Weeks/Eric Molina(RIV) - Candio is built like a tank and is ranked 9th by FWN. Weeks is ranked second in both polls and is coming off a LCAC title as well as wins over ranked opponents from Jensen Beach and Lake Gibson. Hunter looks to be peaking at just the right time for his State Title pursuit.

170 - Jose Valdez(CH) v Caleb Van Helden(RIV) - Unranked by TWN but ranked 6th by FWN, Valdez is one of the unheralded wrestlers that just seems to win but doesn't get much recognition. A solid 4th at Captain Archer and then finished 3rd at Ippolito this weekend. Van Helden is not currently ranked but has been a solid addition to the Raider squad. He needs to step it up over the next few weeks and a win over Valdez would be a feather in his cap.

182 - Anthony Andou(CH) v Damion Garcia(RIV) - Andou is unranked but his 25-9 record is an indication that the sophomore is well on his way. Andou faced Dormevil at Captain Archer and secured a win but will face the more experienced Garcia this time around. Garcia is now ranked 11th by TWN and recently was the 182 lb Champion at LCAC.

195 - Dalton Mills(CH) v Ryan Dormevil(RIV) - The experienced Mills has dropped down to 195 and is currently ranked 3rd by FWN and 5th by TWN. The Senior is looking for a trip to Kissimeee and likely will face Dormevil at the Regional tournament with a trip to State on the line. Dormevil was second at LCAC and had a big win against Lake Gibson this past Friday. Dormevil is not currently ranked.

220 - Tanis Gonzales(CH) v Jacob Stanbro(RIV) - Should be one of the most competitive matches of the night. Gonzalez is not ranked but had a solid outing at Ippolito, with both of his losses coming against a highly ranked competitor from Venice. Stanbro keeps it close every match and is currently ranked #9 by TWN.

285 - Tyler Midkiff(CH) v Cole Schneider(RIV) - Midkiff is crawling up the rankings, is currently #14 at FWN and was a solid 3rd at Ippolito. Despite this, he is unlikely to push unanimous #1 Cole Schneider, who is simply on another level at this weight.

As has been the case with Riverdale's last two duals against state ranked teams, this should be a close dual and probably will have a similar number of wins by each team. The team that gives up fewer pins will be at a big advantage. I have the Raiders with a solid advantage in 4 weights, with the Tarpons having a solid advantage in 3. Overall I see the Raiders taking 8 weight classes compared to the Tarpons 6, but with so many classes evenly matched it could go either way. The key weights to me are 138, 145, 182, 195 and 220. The most exciting matches might be 106, 113 and 138.


Good luck to both teams with a wish they both make it through healthy and ready for Districts.


Kris Hayward

Riverdale High School