Next up: Yulee
Season record: 12-7 in duals.
Tournament record: 8th at Arlington Optimist December 5-6, 7th at Backyard Bash December 19-20, 10th at Raines 5 Star IBT February 6-7, T-24th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 7th at 1A-District 4 meet February 28, 15th at 1A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-42nd at 1A State meet March 13-14
Season in a nutshell: Struggles early and late sandwiched what was a pretty nice January for the Duval Panthers. With a lineup that always seemed somewhat short-handed during the course of the season for a variety of reasons, Duval Charter did struggle at its first two tournament events, but the Panthers got their act together a bit more effectively in January, and particularly so at the first Army Duals event hosted by Terry Parker, going 8-0 on the weekend and reaching the event championship against First Coast. While that particular dual didn’t go well for the Panthers, the weekend would have, ideally, jump-started the entire team’s remainder of the season. It did lead to a top-10 finish at Raines 5 Star a few weeks after, but attrition seemed to take hold of Duval Charter by the post-season, as I’m only seeing five wrestlers in the Panther lineup contained in the District 4 brackets, and just one after 138. That’s a difficult way to contend for a team title, but the Panthers still outscored all but two district rivals at states.
2014-15 MVP: Duval Charter was able to outscore all but two district rivals at states behind its first state qualifier in the school’s history, as 2014-15 freshman Daniel Porter became the first Panther to win a district and, a week later, region championship. Porter got his second regular season off to a fantastic start, going 25-1 with only a loss by fall very early, and up a weight for him, to eventual 2A placer Marcus Reid at the Englewood Super 6. That December loss would be his last until the first weekend of February, when he fell 3-1 to eventual 3A state qualifier Alex Barie of Sandalwood. As it would turn out, Porter would not lose to a Class 1A wrestler until states, winning districts with a fall and two decisions, and then rolling through regions with three falls and a decision to make history for the Panthers. The win streak would continue into states, as Porter reached the semis and became the first Duval Charter wrestler to earn a state medal as well. Getting that far put Porter into some very elite company, and Saturday was a struggle, but a ton of freshmen would love to have had his season.
Projected returning starters for 2015-16: Porter (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling had him at 38-7, I had him at 40-7 at 106), Jack Fagan (8th grader in 15-16, Track had him at 5-17, I had him at 10-10 at 113), Andrew Slade (freshman in 15-16, I had him at 31-11 at 120), Andrew Duchaussee (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 15-17, I had him at 16-16 at 138), Ethan Barry (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 7-11, I had him at 7-12 at 160), plus Stone Rockhill (8th grader in 15-16, I had him at 1-7 at 120/126), Hunter Lawson (junior in 15-16, I had him at 13-10 until injury ended season), Sean Bennett (freshman in 15-16, I had him at 3-11 at 132), Blaise Puig (junior in 15-16, I had him at 11-10 at 138), James Allinson (freshman in 15-16, I had him at 6-10 at 138), Ben Fitzpatrick (senior in 15-16, I had him at 11-6 at 145), Mike Dinkla (senior in 15-16, I had him at 3-15 at 160), Michael Booker (senior in 15-16, I had him at 10-7 at 220).
2015-16 captain: In most ways, Porter has been the captain of the team, particularly this past season, but based upon his results thus far, Andrew Slade appears to have done enough to place himself into a leadership position as well as he moves into his high school years. Slade also was a district champion this past year, moving up two weights to do so after competing in his 7th-grade year at 106. After a slow start (4-4), Slade won 16 of his next 17 matches. He won the district title at 120 with a late takedown to secure the victory, and only lost by one point in the quarterfinals at regions, making it into Saturday. From there, though, he had to face a wrestler with Wakulla, with its very deep room and rich tradition in north Florida among 1A teams. I think Slade will get a chance to punch his ticket for states before a whole lot more time passes.
Heaton’s Hero: I’m not sure how much Jack Fagan weighs, but it couldn’t have been anywhere close to 113. But, when Porter made the decision to drop down to 106 full-time in January, that meant that Fagan was going to have to go up, and probably give up (conservatively) 20 pounds to his opponents. It’s the way of wrestling everywhere, as better wrestlers attempt to drop down as far as they can (not something I’ve seen as much of down here in Florida as up north). Fagan started off the season with an 8-5 record (as I recorded it), but it was a little bit deceiving in that the eight wins all came via forfeit and the five losses were all by fall. Despite that, he kept battling, even picking up a win at districts to score team points for Duval Charter. I’m not sure why his season record is so different from what I have, but it doesn’t matter — I do think Fagan will get better, particularly as he grows into the lower weight classes a bit more in the next couple of seasons. Jack Fagan is the Duval Charter representative for the Heaton’s Hero nomination.