Next up: Orange Park
Season record: 11-6 in duals. I think mostly. We had a couple of events on the Hornet schedule that kind of fell through the cracks.
Tournament record: 1st at Bierbaum Invitational January 17, T-49th at girls’ state meet February 6-7, 4th at Raines 5 Star IBT February 6-7, 1st at 1A-District 3 meet February 28, 7th at 1A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-59th at 1A State meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: Other than a later-January hiccup where it seems like some things fell through the cracks (a couple of missed results), Yulee had a solid year. The Hornets got off to a stronger start at Deltona than it had had in the previous year, following that up with wins in seven of its next eight duals and earning — in a couple of stretches — a top-10 area ranking. A hiccup or two down the stretch made staying in the top 10 trickier, but the Hornets had solid results in its local IBT tournaments, with wins at Bierbaum and District 3, following that up with a solid 7th at regions. Barring significant re-districting, I should think Yulee will be the team to beat in its district next year, with nine returning starters and a 10th returner who saw significant time. The Hornets will have to replace their foundational group in the middle, but the beginnings of a long-term program are slowly being put together.
2014-15 MVP: There are a few wrestlers who compete with the motor that Daniel Beverly has, but not as many as you’d want. Beverly (Trackwrestling had him completing his senior season at 27-7, I had him at 27-5 at 160 pounds) wrestled the same style — all-out — against pretty much any level of competition, and the several occasions that I got to see him confirmed that for me. When he was at 170, he lost just once to eventual state finalist and Suwannee MVP Sasha Key, and once the drop was made, he only lost twice more, against 2A wrestlers, prior to states. Beverly rolled to a district title with a pair of two first-period pins, and then had three decisive victories before showing he could go patient as well, winning by a 6-3 decision to take Yulee’s only region championship. Beverly anchored a set of strong senior middles that set the tone for the Hornet lineup from 138 through 170. They’ll be missed, and hopefully his example on the mat will be noticed and copied by the younger Hornets coming up.
Projected returning starters for 2015-16: Logan Blaise (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling had him at 3-9, I had him at 3-8 at 106), Dylan Youmans (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 31-4, I had him at 25-3 at 113), Blaine Dorsey (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 19-10, I had him at 20-9 at 120), John Parker (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 25-9, I had him at 25-10 at 126), Zack Watson (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 11-19, I had him at 5-17 at 132), RJ Adams (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 25-8, I had him at 19-5 at 182), TJ Holten (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 2-12, I had him at 0-11 at 195), Zack Walker (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 13-11, I had him at 8-10 at 220), McKenzie Lewis (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 9-12, I had him at 7-8 at 285), plus Makayla Hoyle (junior in 15-16, I had her at 2-4 at 152), Dylan Dial (junior in 15-16, I had him at 1-6 at 160/170), Trevor Ford (senior in 15-16, I had him at 10-6 at 182/195).
2015-16 captain: I would imagine — and I would guess from the Twitter feed that I’d be right — that the one-point loss, one match before punching a ticket for states, at regions in March will be a very strong motivator for RJ Adams this coming season. Adams got a bit of a later start, not competing in the Hornets’ traditional season opener at Deltona’s duals event, but made his case for an area ranking rather quickly after that. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a lot of looks at the stronger 182s in the area during the course of the season, and his draw for districts and the first couple rounds of regions didn’t give him a lot of preparation for the better kids in the final rounds. Adams has a crazy amount of talent, with far more athleticism than the average 182, and I can’t see him not making states with it. I also think he’ll be a strong influence on the young Hornet upper weights, who’ll have to carry more of the load this year now that Yulee’s group of middles will have all graduated.
Heaton’s Hero: TJ Holten didn’t join the varsity lineup until the county championships, that I’ve been able to gather from the results I have, but was a regular presence going forward, wrestling at either 182 or 195 after competing at 220 a few times early on. Matches went fairly quickly, at least that I have available to me. I’m not sure how the two wins came about — they must have been earned during the events I have missing for Yulee, but once the lineup was settled for districts, Holten was in there at 195. It was a very quick day, but Holten made weight and showed up and competed. Hopefully he’ll gain some more experience and come back with a few more wins next season. TJ Holten is the Yulee representative for the Heaton’s Hero nomination.