Next up: Robert E. Lee
Florida School for the Deaf & Blind
Season record: 7-15 in duals.
Tournament record: 5th at Arlington Optimist December 5-6, 9th at Bierbaum Invitational January 17, 11th at Raines 5 Star IBT February 6-7, 4th at 1A-District 4 meet February 28, 19th at 1A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-66th at 1A State meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: A year ago, the Dragons didn’t have numbers issues, so were very competitive in dual formats, but sometimes struggled a bit in IBTs because there were some solid kids, but no lockdown points. This past year, FSDB’s biggest issue was getting and keeping numbers in the lineup, as there were starters from 2013-14 that didn’t return to the lineup this past year. At the same time, though, the Dragons did have a few lockdown points that they could always count on, and nowhere was that more in evidence than at districts, when FSDB had three champions, leading to an eventual state qualifier. Should the Dragons have better luck with their recruiting efforts next season, I would expect a season with the ability both to score well in IBTs and do well in duals in 2015-16.
2014-15 MVP: Wesley Homewood began the 2014-15 season up two weights, having to wrestle the season-ending area #2 at 182 in his very first match of the season, and he would not win a tournament that day. In fact, the Dragons’ MVP would not win a tournament until districts. Homewood (37-9 per Trackwrestling at 160 pounds, I had him at 36-9) won 10 of his next 11 matches after his initial start of 4-2 at Arlington Optimist, with his only loss a 9-8 loss to Lee’s MVP in a match that had to have been fun to watch. Two midseason losses against 1A 160s seemed to refocus Homewood, as they were both in-district losses, but he eventually went on to avenge both, winning the district title with two pins. At regions, Homewood took a 6-3 loss in the quarterfinals, but went on to avenge that one, too, later on in the third-place match after punching his ticket for states. Homewood would win a match there, too, and wound up earning a nomination for the Russ Mauger Award by the FHSAA. Always fun to watch, he’ll be missed this upcoming season.
Projected returning starters for 2015-16: Christian Miranda Reyes (sophomore in 15-16 per Track & freshman per district brackets, Track had him at 12-6, I had him at 12-17 at 106), Tayshawn Smith (8th grader in 15-16 per Track & freshman per district brackets, Track had him at 9-19, I had him at 10-19 at 113), Tyre Singleton (junior in 15-16, both Track and I had him at 9-17 at 132), Kolton Kimball (8th grader in 15-16, Track had him at 4-23, I had him at 6-23 at 145), Imed Touahri (senior in 15-16, Track and I both had him at 32-9 at 195), plus Ty Snow (7th grader in 15-16, I had him at 6-6 at 106) and Colby Shedd (senior in 15-16, I had him at 5-5 at 220).
2015-16 captain: Look at Imed Touahri as he warms up, and you almost wonder if he’ll beat anyone. Get Touahri on the mat, and you almost wonder if he’ll ever lose. Touahri is physically very strong, and has a great deal of balance and hip control not usually seen in an upper-weight, plus he has an uncommon tenacity. It’s very difficult to take Touahri down from a tie-up, and moving up from 182 to 195 only seemed to help him this year, as he won FSDB’s only title at Arlington Optimist and was the highest finisher for the Dragons at Bierbaum, before winning at District 4. Touahri was one match short of punching his ticket for states, losing only to the region runnerup and third-place finisher along the way. It’ll be that tenacity that gets him to states next year; I’d be very surprised if that does not happen. He’ll have to lead by example next year, with a lot of younger kids in the lineup.
Heaton’s Hero: I’ll just start with this. Everyone on this team could qualify as a Heaton’s Hero. I’ve made no secret that the Dragons are pretty much my favorite team. Imagine trying to wrestle an opponent entirely without the ability to hear your coach, and have to interpret signs while looking over at your coach while your opponent is trying to pin you. Or, imagine trying to wrestle an opponent you can’t see, where the moves that you know you have to go on by using feel. The blind wrestlers on the Dragons’ team have to start matches touching the hands of their opponents, unlike anyone else. And it is one of the FSDB blind wrestlers that particularly stood out for this part of the recap in my mind. Tayshaun Smith didn’t start the year as the starter, but he finished it as one. Six of his eight regular-season wins came by forfeit, and the two others came wrestling up, but Smith only lost to the eventual champion in the District 4 meet, pinning two opponents to not only punch his ticket for regions but have a decent shot at a seed as well, taking third. Smith was overmatched there, but he finished strong enough to get there. For overcoming challenges most wrestlers can’t understand, Tayshaun Smith is the FSDB representative for the Heaton’s Hero nomination.