Next up: Duval Charter
Season record: 18-3 in duals.
Tournament record: 14th at Palm Coast Rotary January 9-10, T-43rd at girls’ state meet February 6-7, 8th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 6-7, 3rd at 2A-District 3 meet February 27, T-7th at 2A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, 32nd at 2A State meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: What would this team have been like with a December under its belt? That’s really the only downside the Knights had to their season in 2014-15. While every other team worked on its conditioning through competition in December matches, Oakleaf had just one dual in December and it was well into December, too. The lack of mat time hurt the Knights in their first IBT of the season, but they still pulled together a top-15 team finish at Palm Coast; from there, a one-point win over Clay County rival Orange Park, followed up by a 5-0 appearance at OPHS’ 10-Way Duals, really opened up the throttle for Oakleaf, which went on to finish third at Bartram Trail’s duals event and took a top-10 team finish at Clay. Not having upper weights (no 220 or 285) made things difficult for the Knights to do better than third at districts, but the regular-season dual record and IBT finishes were light years ahead of where Oakleaf was a year ago.
2014-15 MVP: When I learned that Jason Davis was switching schools last fall, I assumed a move, but I wondered if his wrestling would take a hit as a result of leaving a pretty solid Fleming Island room. As it turned out, Davis flourished in his sophomore year, with the key being physical growth and domination. Davis was 21-17 as a freshman, getting to Saturday at regions, but this year he put together a sparkling 35-3 season with a regular-season loss to South Dade’s hammer at 195, Chei Hill, and then post-season losses at 182 to Leon’s Joe Grant (10-8 in the 2A-Region 1 final) and Port St. Lucie’s Johnley Cadet (2-1 at state semifinals, in a match where Cadet didn’t take a shot). I remember thinking when I saw Davis at 10-Way that I didn’t know how good he could become. I still don’t, but I’m stoked to find out. Not sure what weight he’ll go next year, but he told he he could have cut to 170 (semi-wishful thinking, maybe, as he was a giant 82, but if anyone might have given it a shot, he might have). He’ll be leading an Oakleaf team that has nine returning starters, some good talent capable of starting for at least three other weights, and a new attitude at Oakleaf. Look out.
Returning starters for 2015-16: Ryan Rosano (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling and I had him at 29-10 at 106), Vince Karl (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 21-11, I had him at 22-11 at 113), Riggs Wolf (senior in 15-16, Track and I had him at 14-12 at 126), Detrall Lanier (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 21-14, I had him at 21-13 at 138), Isaiah Graham (sophomore in 15-16, Track and I had him at 7-15 at 145), Lucas Karl (junior in 15-16, Track and I had him at 19-10 at 152), Josh Detrick (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 18-16, I had him at 19-15 at 170), Jason Davis (junior in 15-16, Track and I had him at 35-3 at 182), David Thompson (junior in 15-16, Track and I had him at 16-11 at 195), plus Geneva Winston (senior in 15-16, I had her at 4-4 at 113), Luke Simons (junior in 15-16, I had him at 3-4 at 126), Deonte Adams (senior in 15-16, I had him at 10-7 at 160/170/182) and Sean Tairovski-Romeu (senior in 15-16, I had him at 10-8 at 182/195/220).
2015-16 captain: While Davis just might be able to go it alone next year, I think this is the kind of team where a rising tide is going to lift all the boats. The question is who is most likely to rise. Rosano had a lot of wins and Lanier has state-qualifier experience, but I look for a guy like Luke Karl to bust out this year. He’s been wrestling in the middles for two years now, a province most often dominated by senior talent, and 152 was certainly a weight like that this past year. So, too, was 160, and either way, I think there’ll be room for him to make a case for a top-five easily, maybe even top-three area ranking in 2015-16. He was a region qualiifier in a district where all four qualifying 152s were top-10 in the area, and won two matches at regions, making it to Saturday in a bracket that might have been one of the deepest in the region. He wrestles a lot in the off-season, and that can only help.
Heaton’s Hero: Just about every weight class in the Knights’ lineup found a fair amount of successes in 2014-15, just in terms of double-digit wins and finishing over .500 on the season, a significant upgrade from the previous year. Only one starter found precarious footing in the lineup, and that was 145-pound freshman Isaiah Graham, although he, too, had figured a couple of things out at the end of the year. Graham faced a lot of seniors in his list of opponents this past year, and began the season 2-11 at one point, with nine pins against and only two forfeits to his credit. From there, however, he went 5-4, going 8-6 with one wrestler, shutting out another wrestler to put himself just one match from regions and then going OT in the consi semis with another wrestler with a much better record. Graham, too, has been toiling this off-season, getting more mat time, which means more experience, and eventually that inevitably leads to wins. For his determination in overcoming a slow start, Isaiah Graham is the Oakleaf representative for the Heaton’s Hero nomination.