Coach Moves

While I’d learned it a couple days earlier, it was made official that Brian Adkins is stepping down at Duval Charter for family reasons. Matmen wishes him well. He gave us a lot of access for our Christmas Day feature in 2013, and he’s generally a fantastic, humble person.

I’ve also learned that Lance Day will be running the Episcopal program going forward — Mike Rickey is staying on as ESJ’s middle-school coach, which should be helpful for me and for the kids; for me, because he has all of the middle school contacts that I very much need, as this is something I want to make sure we have more space for in 2015-16.

Hopefully by Monday I’ll have an email up and running to the coaches in order to find out who is staying and who is moving on before next season.


The Season: Creekside, 2014-15

Next up this week: Fleming Island.


Season record: 27-3 in duals.

Tournament record: 8th at Westside Kiwanis December 12-13, 8th at Palm Coast Rotary January 9-10, 9th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 2nd at 2A-District 4 meet February 25, 4th at 2A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-47th at 2A state meet March 13-14.

Season in a nutshell: There really weren’t any points in the season where the Knights could be said to have struggled. Maybe at Kiwanis, with an 8th-place finish there after a 6-1 dual start, that might have been one of the only times. Or there would be the double-digit loss at home to Middleburg in a battle of ranked teams. But, after that loss, Creekside just about fired on every cylinder it could find. After losing to Harmony at the Terry Parker Army Duals, the Knights won 15 straight duals to close out the season. Creekside had a ton of senior talent leading the way this season, with several highly-ranked individual wrestlers. Three Knights had 40 wins in 2014-15, and it could have been two more were it not for injuries and the result of a late transfer. Creekside was ranked as high as fifth during the course of the season, and there’ll be a lot of returning talent that will make the Knights once again of the area’s top teams again next year.

2014-15 MVP: Austin Wynn took more losses than he would have liked to start the year, but he had faced some pretty tough competition to begin the season at Matanzas. Then, he wound up taking two more tough losses against strong 113s in local Avery Holder of Palm Coast and Konnor McHale of Jensen Beach. The Holder loss put him at 11-4 for the season. Wynn wouldn’t lose again until mid-February, down a weight class, and going up against one of the state’s best 106s in Jacob Conrad of Tampa Prep. That string of wins — 26 in all — included Ws over some of north-central Florida’s best 106s and 113s. Wynn followed that up with two pins to win the District 4 title. He then made his way to a region title, edging out Middleburg’s Dylan Rossetti to take top honors at the Region 1 meet. States didn’t go quite so well, to be sure. But the career Wynn has had, plus the consistency he showed throughout most of the season — leaving the start and finish aside — made him the Knights’ MVP.

Returning starters for 2015-16: Antonio Patterson (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling and I had him at 2-13 at 120), Nickolas Lulias (sophomore in 15-16, Track and I had him at 6-30 at 126), Ty VanSickel (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 34-4, I had him at 34-5 at 132), David Tyer (senior in 15-26, Track had him at 25-16, I had him at 26-16 at 138), Brandon Dickman (sophomore in 15-16, Track and I had him at 45-11 at 152), Steven Stanton (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 17-19, I had him at 17-20 at 160/70), William Lulias (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 29-10, I had him at 30-10 at 182), Corey Grower (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 22-19, I had him at 23-19 at 195), Gus Fischer (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 33-9, I had him at 32-9 at 220), plus Jacob Cooney (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 4-13 at 120) and Mateo Villa (senior in 15-16, I had him at 4-8 at 170).

2015-16 captain: VanSickel made a splash in the Knights’ wrestling room when he came down from Chatfield, MN (and yes, I DO know that program, having covered prep wrestling in western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota in the late 80s and early 90s). Once he entered the lineup, he only lost to 3A state placer Zach Larison of Hagerty in his first 28 matches before taking an ID loss when he took sick at Clay Rotary. VanSickel went six minutes at states with the eventual state champion after winning the District 4 title and finishing second to Chiles’ Winslow Robinson at Region 1. We’ll see what he learned from those losses as he begins his junior season. There’s a lot of solid talent on this team — probably three returners, and possibly a fourth — will earn statewide rankings in 2015-16, and VanSickel’s energy will be a big part of how next season plays out for the Knights.

Heaton’s Hero: For a team that won 90 percent of its duals and had solid finishes in almost every IBT tournament in which it competed during the 2014-15 season, it can be an interesting challenge to find a wrestler that had some struggles and yet overcame them by sticking it out through the entire season. But there was one who definitely had some growing pains to overcome as part of a veteran lineup, dropping 13 of his first 14 matches and his final six as well. Still, though, Nickolas Lulias did have four pins during the course of the year, and he’s got a lot of company returning to the Knights’ lineup, so there will be plenty of opportunities for him to improve. He did stick it out from the first weekend of the season to the last, however, and that kind of determination is exactly what I look for. Nickolas Lulias is the Creekside nominee for the Heaton’s Hero award.



The Season: Palatka, 2014-15


Season record: 11-22 in duals.

Tournament record: 24th at Palm Coast Rotary January 9-10, 7th at St Johns River Conference IBT February 7, T-24th at Green Cove Springs February 13-14, 3rd at 1A-District 5 meet February 28, 22nd at Region 1A-2 meet March 6-7. No state qualifiers.

Season in a nutshell: Palatka got off to a slow start at the Matanzas Duals in early December, going 1-6 in the first weekend of the season, but the Panthers eventually righted the ship, winning 10 of their next 14 duals. That included wins over its geographic rivals (Bradford, Interlachen and Eastside) as well as a few Jacksonville teams. Palatka was probably a bit over-matched, as a team, when it competed in the Flagler Duals at the end of January. The Panthers won their first dual there, but then lost their last 12 going into the post-season. For the most part, it was a situation where Palatka was simply outgunned as a team, but I always appreciate teams whose reach exceeds their grasp. You can’t get better without wrestling better competition, and I thought the Panthers did a really good job of trying to find that better competition. It didn’t make for a good dual or tournament record, but it should make better wrestlers for the future.

2014-15 MVP: One of the things I wanted to learn about Palatka was how good Eron Carter is. The short answer is, I don’t know. But I don’t know if the Panthers or Carter know yet, either. I feel like he’s still scratching the surface of his ability — which includes the strength of a heavyweight with the balance of someone competing nearly 100 pounds lighter. Carter faced a lot of north Florida’s best upper-weight wrestlers during the course of the season. He didn’t have a very strong district tournament, and I’m sure he would agree with that, finishing third after a tough semifinal loss to Clay’s Jeremy Beaulieu. At regions, Carter got farther in the tournament than any other Palatka wrestler, and that despite a very tough matchup against state finalist Anthony Contegiacomo of Nature Coast in the first round. Carter rallied all the way back to finish just one match short of states in a brutal 220 bracket. I think he will get out to Kissimmee next year, and possibly have a shot at a medal as well.

Returning starters for 2015-16: Marcellus Metson (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling had him at 7-8, I had him at 13-10 at 106/113), William Mullins (sophomore in 15-16, I had him a 13-10 at 106/113), Dale Green (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 2-12, I had him at 4-15 at 113), Dean Lowe (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 25-15, I had him at 22-18 at 120/26), Shade Ward (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 17-16, I had him at 22-17 at 120/26), Logan Diana (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 4-6, I had him at 5-15 at 126/32), Kedrick Davis (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 7-9, I had him at 14-13 at 170/82), Ira Dixon (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 6-14, I had him at 10-15 at 195), Carter (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 29-10, I had him at 34-10 at 220), Jared Hindrix (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 7-9, I had him at 9-12 at 285), plus Wyatt Fillman (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 6-4 at 113), Jerich Givens (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 5-7 at 126-38), Jamar Danzler (junior in 15-16, I had him at 5-16 at 152/60), Bryan Smith (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 10-16 at 170).

2015-16 captain: Carter would and will make a great captain for the Panthers in 2015-16. I don’t know if things would have gotten started between us and Palatka, however, if it had not been for the efforts of Dean Lowe to make sure that we had the Panther results in December. That’s a captain’s bit of work, there. And he’s got plenty of chops of the wrestling mat himself, reaching the quarterfinals of the Region 2 tournament after finishing second to Clay’s Cody Taylor at the District 5 meet. Lowe had 25 wins as a junior, and he’s already shown the leadership that might help his team become even more successful next season to go with enough talent that might be enough for him to make a run at states as well.

Heaton’s Hero: Dale Green had just one win in a contested match. That win came at, I believe, the Green Cove Springs Rotary. Mid-February is a long time to wait for a victory that doesn’t come via forfeit, but Green started competitive wrestling and yet still had to take some difficult losses, including a lot of pins, before he picked up that win by fall at Clay. Yes, Green didn’t get a win in the post-season, but he did get a chance to compete in the region tournament by finishing fourth at districts, and in so doing, gained an opportunity — first-hand — to see what kind of improvements he’ll need to make over the next three years. There’s a lot of freshman teammates that are on the roster with him. I like where Palatka might go in the next couple of seasons, and it’ll be guys like Green — the Heaton’s Hero nominee for the Panther team — that gets it there.



Page Views Are Great

We’ve had nearly 275,000 page views of this website since go-live Labor Day 2013. We are only about 8,000 page views from equaling the 2014 number, in 2015, and it’s only going to be May when that number is exceeded. We’ve got more The Season posts to do (Palatka tonight and probably additional ones in the 2A and 3A world for Tuesday and Wednesday, taking Thursday night off, and then I am hoping to do 10 over the course of the weekend).

I’ve had a few commenters indicate willingness to report events, or work with me to have events reported. Here’s my one major problem with that. The one time I had somebody who wasn’t me represent themselves as doing work that would become part of the site’s content, it didn’t go well. I have to maintain control over the content of the site, particularly when I deal with state and national organizations. That was compromised, once, and I was very unhappy about it and it can’t happen again. I’d really rather have to do everything myself than have that happen again. No one can speak for me or this website without asking for my permission first.

I also would have to ensure that objectivity is paramount. On the occasions where I would get photos from people, the only photos would be of their children. I come at this from a “professional” media background, whatever that may mean in the blogging world, and while I don’t have a problem with a (by way of example) Clay parent or fan submitting a photo of a Clay wrestler with a good action shot, I’d prefer it be one of their children’s teammates. It’s a balancing act, to be sure. People mean well, but unless you’re like me and you truly have no dog in the fight I am not sure you can fully understand the need for objectivity that I simply have to have with this. Videos have also been brought up. Same thing. Plus…I would have to expand bandwidth of the site in order to accommodate video. The person taking the video would have to remain absolutely silent during the videoing of the match. Otherwise, it’s not objective and I can’t use it. It’s not personal; I said going in that I can’t be accused of being the website for this team or that team. Whether you’re wrestling for the top team or No. 49, I care just as much about your success.

My biggest concerns are not so much how much work I have to do to put something on the site, it’s how much followup I have to do in order to have content to put something on the site. Examples of these are mainly in the submission of results, in season and off-season. I pretty much have to take what I get in terms of off-season. This weekend, I had help from Trackwrestling and from Zach Fox. Last weekend, with Father Devine and with the local competitions scheduled, I didn’t get anything. We’ll see about what’s on tap this weekend. There’s just no way to know what I will and won’t get. In season, I’m always emailing somebody the day after an event for results from the duals of the previous night. There was too much followup to have to do.

I’m still thinking, as the off-season progresses and we tentatively start looking toward Year 3, that I won’t have to have a paywall or subscription plan. But if there was to be more content for me to vet for quality and for completeness and for accuracy’s sake, there might have to be one in the future.


AAU States Brackets — Full

The Tot, Midget and Bantam divisions are combined into one PDF, however. Novice/Schoolboy and JV/Varsity each have their own. Some good performances from local wrestlers, with Palm Coast winning two varsity titles (Michael DeAugustino winning at 126 and Kaz Maia at 160) and adding three more JV titles, while Orange Park had one varsity champion (Marcus Reid at 120) and two JV champs. At any rate, all of the results will be in one of the attached brackets. Flagler put on a pretty big event, with lots of downstate competition making the trek northward.







#Battle4Blake Brackets Exclusively HERE

For a second Saturday, I almost thought I was back at an Army Duals event at Terry Parker. There were wrestlers EVERYWHERE in the gym. And, this time, coaches got to have a go at it themselves if they so chose. The setup was tremendous, the competition spirited and the cause fundamentally worthy. More than $10,000 was raised for the Dunham family to defray the costs involved with Blake’s medical expenses. So many volunteers made this thing an event, a real happening — which I have not often seen at off-season events. Topping that list was the drive and determination of Rich & Peg Marshall to dream it up, speak it into existence and then carry it off.

Shakespeare said once in my favorite play, Hamlet, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” This sport is not just about wins and losses. Not just about rankings. Not just about getting this sport coverage. Not just about cutting weight (especially this time of year! 🙂 )

Fundamentally, wrestling is an idea — how far one man or woman can take himself by working to improve him or herself and testing the limits of that work against the limits of another. It can entertain. It can motivate. It can encourage. It can inspire.

On Saturday, we were reminded once again about the good things wrestling has done, can do and will keep doing, as long as there are those willing to keep that idea going.

The results are here, and I’m sure there will be some who’ll scout them for trends. The larger goal of this event, however, was to see if wrestling could make a difference. Once again, it proved itself more then able to meet that challenge.






The Season: First Coast, 2014-15

First Coast

Season record: 30-10 in duals.

Tournament record: 4th at Arlington Optimist December 5-6, 2nd at Gateway Conference January 16-17, 5th at 3A-District 1 meet February 28, 12th at 3A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-23rd at 3A state meet March 13-14.

Season in a nutshell: First Coast had a very intriguing season. The Buccaneers didn’t start off so well (see the 4th at Optimist), but not all of their horses were in the stable yet. By late December, that had changed and through the first couple weeks in January, First Coast was wrestling like the team to beat in the Gateway Conference, with two or three top-ranked individuals and a few other really competitive, good kids. The peak came just a bit too soon, with a runnerup at Gateway and a tough dose of reality at the Flagler Duals at the end of January. First Coast rallied in February, but from then it was about the tremendously talented Buccaneer individuals. FIrst Coast will graduate some seniors, but already we’re seeing a couple of the seniors for next year making the commitment to off-season wrestling, which is a new(er) thing and a dangerous thing for Buccaneer opponents.

2014-15 MVP: Following First Coast wrestling is, at the outset of the season, about waiting for the football guys to make it back. They came back just before Christmas, at the Stingray Duals at Atlantic Coast, and made an immediate impact. For the past three years, no one in the Buccaneer lineup has been better at his weight than Scott Dollison, Dollison was second-team all-area by the Times Union in 2013-14 (I take pride in being instrumental to make sure his season that year wasn’t neglected) and was the clear choice for first-team this past season (and was #1 in my poll from the moment he started competing). But Dollison hadn’t had a lot of traction outside the immediate area until this year. He dominated the district, as I would have expected. Like everyone else who faced Dr Phillips’ Dylan Meeks, Dollison struggled, but still controlled the pace against everyone else not named Meeks at regions, to finish third. His only loss at states was by one point, in the quarters, and he finished third there, too. He beat a kid with 58 wins in the third-place match, who got to sleep in his own bed during states weekend. Dollison announced he was one of the best 220s in Florida at states weekend. It’ll be fun to see how this year goes.

Returning starters for 2015-16: Leon Cruz (sophomore in 15-16, both Trackwrestling and I had him at 20-22 at 106), Erik Sirmans (senior in 15-16, both Track and I had him at 48-7 at 120), Joshua Rivers (senior in 15-16, both Track and I had him at 31-12 at 145), Jason Rogers (senior in 15-16, I had him at 19-14 at 145/152), Darien Holder (junior in 15-16, I had him at 22-13 at 170), Dollison (senior in 15-16, Track and I had him at 42-3 at 220), Joshua Story (senior at 15-15, Track and I had him at 12-11 at 285), plus Zachary Stevens (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 0-2, I had him at 2-5 at 170).

2015-16 captain: I’ve set myself up so far to pick two different wrestlers for the MVP of the season just-finished and the captain for the season still-ahead. And while I think Dollison would be a helluva captain for this team next year based upon his results, his athleticism and his desire to dominate opponents, I am going to follow with that set up. If there’s ever an award like there is in golf, the “Best Player Never To Win a Major,” there certainly can be a “Best Wrestler Not To Make States…So Far.” In my mind locally, Erik Sirmans is high on that list, if not tops on that list. But what he’s doing already — working out at the River City Wrestling Factory — to get even better (and he’s wrestled some really, really tough kids around here) is telling me that he’s not satisfied just to win 48 matches. That’s the stuff captains are made of.

Heaton’s Hero: Not a lot of First Coast wrestlers were at Arlington Optimist in early December, and that was part of the reason why the Buccaneers were fourth at that meet. Not a lot of First Coast wrestlers — either that graduate next month or that should return next year — had a struggle with getting above or staying above .500 for a season record. But one wrestler stood out in my mind — one who was there at the very beginning when most of his bigger teammates were still deeply entrenched in football mode, and at the same time one who really pushed hard to try to get above .500. That was Leon Cruz. Cruz found some early success, jumping out to a 9-3 record at the beginning of the year. As the season wore on, and he faced more experienced and in some cases better wrestlers on other teams, he struggled more. But he persevered. Even in losing seven of his last eight matches, his last match was a 19-14 loss. That’s a war. That’s exactly what I like to see — inexperienced kids that aren’t afraid to make mistakes or get scored on in pursuit of experience and a win. Leon Cruz is the First Coast nominee for the Heaton’s Hero nod.



The Season: Bartram Trail, 2014-15

Bartram Trail

Season record: 12-11 in duals.

Tournament record: 10th at Westside Kiwanis December 12-13, 5th at St Johns River Conference IBT February 7, 15th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 3rd at 2A-District 4 meet February 25, 14th at 2A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, 46th at 2A state meet March 13-14.

Season in a nutshell: What we saw from Bartram Trail this past season was a team in transition, not so much physically as mentally. The Bears saw themselves as being able to believe in the idea of winning wrestling this past season. With a better than .500 duals record and more than double the number of dual victories from 2013-14, Bartram Trail proved it could be a team to be reckoned with in the future. There were a few mis-steps along the way, and the Bears will have to be better as an overall team in IBT events, but this was a very powerful year in terms of growth. A lot of teams would have liked to have had Bartram’s season.

2014-15 MVP: I thought it might be possible for Bears senior Hayden Good to have a good season (no pun, truly, intended) this season, I figured the district championship was probably his to lose, but I don’t think I would have predicted three pins and a tech en route to a region title. I’m not even sure I would have predicted a region title, but Good surpassed all expectations for this season. He finished the year with a 38-7 record, beat some really good 195s during the course of the season, and got to Saturday at the state tournament. It was a fantastic year, one that saw him be ranked all season long and even gain some statewide recognition for his efforts. So it was a no-brainer for me to nominate Hayden Good as the Bears’ MVP for 2014-15.

Returning starters for 2015-16: David Byron (junior in 15-16 per Track but postseason records would indicate he’ll be a sophomore, both Trackwrestling and I had him at 9-21 at 106), Devon Mosteller (senior in 15-16, both Track and I had him at 7-11 at 113), James Mueller (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 4-25 and I had him at 4-24 at 120), Kyle Bachman (senior in 15-16, both Track and I had him at 9-10 at 120/126), Jacob Raczak (senior in 15-16, both Track and I had him at 5-20 at 126/132, Charlie Miller (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 22-10, I had him at 22-9 at 132/38), Matthew Pickett (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 12-21, I had him at 11-20 at 138/45), Sean Coggeshall (junior in 15-16, I had him at 9-14 at 152), William King (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 5-15, I had him at 5-17 at 152), Anthony Stith (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 12-13, I had him at 13-12 at 160), John Wilson (senior in 15-16, Track and I both had him at 29-17 at 170), Kolton McDaniel (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 12-13, I had him at 12-12 at 182), Brad Cecil (sophomore in 15-16, Track and I both had him at 7-12 at 220) and Kristopher Anderson (junior at 15-16, Track and I both had him at 6-18 at 285), plus Justin Griffith (senior in 15-16, I had him at 8-7 at 182) and Justin Thompson (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 2-8 at 220).

2015-16 captain: One of the biggest surprises for the Bears in 2014-15 was the performance of Wilson, who’d not completely unpacked his offensive arsenal in the past. This year, he was just one nearfall away from going to states. Wilson beat three state qualifiers during the course of the year, and entered the post-season as the #1 seed at 170. While districts didn’t go his way, and he found himself having to fight for his life on Friday night on Day 1 at regions, he got through that, and almost got to Kissimmee. I see him closing that deal in 2015-16. Look at a wrestler like Wilson — this is what I believe that Coach Parker is starting to build at Bartram Trail. There’s a lot of starters back with returning experience, and this is a team to really watch.

Heaton’s Hero: With just four wins in 2014-15, and three of those coming on forfeits, it was a tough season. But after taking 19 losses by fall (with a couple of those forfeits sprinkled in) a dual with a rival finally produced a win in a contested match at nearly the endpoint of the season. Yes, the last two competitions of the season resulted in a pair of 0-2 showings, but the fact that he kept battling through those early-season losses, for the satisfaction of getting that one win by fall, is exactly what I look for. For the perseverance he showed throughout the season, I am going with James Mueller as the Heaton’s Hero nomination for Bartram Trail.



AAU States & Battle 4 Blake

So impressive to see so many kids competing on wrestling mats a full six weeks after everyone’s regular season ended. Between AAU states and Battle 4 Blake, there was a ton of action. We’ll have printable brackets on Monday (for reals, I will work on that as long as I have to), and more The Season posts today.

I just want everyone to try to remember that every time I’m at an event by myself, there’s really important people in my life that I’m not spending time with. Every time someone sees a new blog post, it’s the result of concentrated effort that comes at someone else’s expense of not having my undivided attention. Just be patient with me.


Bartram Trail & First Coast

Are in the works for tonight. It’s going to be a whirlwind weekend. I do plan to put in an appearance at Battle 4 Blake, but how long I will stay is another question. Results from AAU states will be worked on Sunday as well as those for Battle 4 Blake (assuming that I get them, which I should with Zach Fox running the tournament), and I will probably be doing my next 1A team, Palatka, on Sunday as well. It’s just really difficult to find the time at work, as slammed as I’ve been, to write up summaries at work that have some care and thought put into them, and really difficult to sit in front of a computer at home at night when I’ve sat in front of a computer all day. We’re battling through it.