Next up: Stanton
Robert E. Lee
Season record: 12-6 in duals.
Tournament record: 25th at Capital City Classic December 12-13, 1st at Backyard Bash December 19-20, 7th at Gateway Conference meet January 16-17, 6th at Raines 5 Star IBT February 6-7, 1st at Westside Roundrobin February 14, 6th at 2A-District 3 meet February 27, 13th at 2A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-67th at 2A State meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: If there was such a thing as a most improved team in the area for 2014-15, it would arguably have to be the Generals, and certainly true among Gateway Conference teams. Yes, Lee had a slow IBT start, but it also had five top-10 finishes, and two wins, in all the IBTs that followed leading up to regions. The Generals also had a slow start in duals, going 1-4 to start the year, but then won 11 of their last 13, including their last seven in a row. Lee also had three lockdown starters in its lineup that racked up 30+ wins each. The only thing I’m not sure about is the sizable discrepancies between what I had for wins and losses and what Trackwrestling has. What I do know is that the Generals are going to be a major force to contend with 2015-16, particularly if it can find a couple of lower weights to replace some graduation losses, because from 126 on up the depth this team has coming back is pretty impressive.
2014-15 MVP: Demetris Harris was an above-average heavy as a freshman, but was only just starting to come into his own by the end of the season, when he qualified for regions. Harris got out to a slow start as well, as he was 3-3 at the very earliest part of the season, but then Harris won 13 of his next 14 matches going up to the Gateway Conference semifinals, where he lost in overtime, eventually taking third (with that match coming via an overtime win). As it turned out, Harris would not lose again, before the region final, to anyone but Ed White’s Kelton Johnson. Harris and Johnson met four times, all going Johnson’s way, including in the district final. When Johnson lost to eventual region champion Gabe Beyer of Leon, also the eventual 2A state finalist, it was Harris who got to the finals instead. Neither Harris nor fellow state qualifier Jaren Jefferson competed at states — I’m not entirely sure why — but I think Harris could have had a good tournament there. There’s still a ton of talent among Duval County heavyweights coming back, and they’re all going to make each other, including Harris, that much better in 2015-16.
Projected returning starters for 2015-16: Jaren Jefferson (junior in 15-16, Trackwrestling had him at 39-10, I had him at 31-12 at 106), Darius Wells (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 13-20, I had him at 11-26 at 126), Christopher Champine (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 15-18, I had him at 12-22 at 132), Darien Bowden (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 14-16, I had him at 7-10 at 138), Judah Brown (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 19-9, I had him at 15-15 at 145), Tony Belle (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 41-7, I had him at 33-7 at 152), Isaiah Mervin (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 20-17, I had him at 5-16 at 160), David Johnson (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 20-8, I had him at 15-10 at 170), Thomas Baker (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 14-22, I had him at 7-15 at 182), Jaron Weatherspoon (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 24-16, I had him at 17-13 at 195), Erik Sumter (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 10-10, I had him at 6-8 at 220), Harris (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 34-10, I had him at 31-10 at 285), plus Lamar Geter (junior in 15-16, I had him at 5-7 at 132), Aaron Base (junior in 15-16, I had him at 11-10 at 138), David Worrell (junior in 15-16, I had him at 4-5 at 145), Myles Thompkins (junior in 15-16, I had him at 6-12 at 152), Edward Colon (senior in 15-16, I had him at 13-13 at 220) and Rory Thompson (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 5-5 at 285).
2015-16 captain: I’ve made mention of senior (graduated) wrestlers this year who deserved to get a shot at states, and one who is on that list for next year already is Lee rising senior Tony Belle. Belle lost two of his first three matches, but then won 18 in a row that took him all the way up to the Gateway final at 152. After that, Belle ripped off another 10 wins a row to take him into districts. For some reason, the post-season was a struggle. Clay County competition was a challenge, as Belle lost twice to Clay opponents and took fourth. Belle then lost, 8-6, in the first round of regions, but then won three matches on the backside to get within one match of states, where he lost to another Clay County wrestler, Middleburg’s Travis Neubeck, to fall just one match short. Belle is among the best rising seniors in a Duval County public school, and I’ll be watching his progress closely. Hopefully he’ll get some off-season work in, and close out his career with a states trip.
Heaton’s Hero: Whatever record is accurate, I still think my choice is a solid one. He started the year wrestling a weight up, and a couple of times two weights up, and didn’t get down to his final weight until just before the end of the regular season. He didn’t get his first contested victories until January, but he stuck it out wrestling against bigger competition, picking up a couple of falls at higher weights. At districts, he lost twice by fall and was the odd man out going to regions as a result, but instead of staying home and playing video games or hanging out with his friends, he showed up, put on the singlet, made weight and attempted to extend his season. He’ll have a chance to get better next year in a room that should be tougher. Thomas Baker is the Lee representative for the Heaton’s Hero nomination.