Next up: Terry Parker
Season record: 1-16 in duals.
Tournament record: 11th at Arlington Optimist Invitational December 5-6, 8th at Backyard Bash December 19-20, 15th at Gateway Conference meet January 16-17, 6th at Westside Roundrobin February 14, 9th at 2A-District 3 meet February 27. No region qualifiers.
Season in a nutshell: Well, to describe it in any way other than “uphill” would be inaccurate, after a season in which the Blue Devils were at the back of the pack at each IBT and had just one dual victory in 2014-15. The win came at the second of two Terry Parker Army Duals in late January. Success can be so hard-won with few numbers, lacking experience, but that’s what Stanton faced this past season. A year ago, the Blue Devils had one of the strongest wrestlers in his weight class. This year, just finding a wrestler with a better than .500 record was the most impressive accomplishment it could generate, such was the lack of experience returning for this year’s team, not to mention the lack of numbers (five Blue Devils competed at districts). Stanton was the only area school that did not send at least one wrestler to regions in 2014-15.
2014-15 MVP: Mitchell Mika was the biggest surprise in the Blue Devils’ lineup, establishing himself almost from the very beginning as Stanton’s best wrestler even as a freshman. Mika had win streaks of four and seven matches during the course of the season, and showed consistent signs of being a solid wrestler, particularly so when he was able to compete at 138. At 145, Mika was 3-7, but I had him at 16-8 at 138. Mika won five matches to take the Westside event at his weight class, and was the only Blue Devil wrestler to win a match at districts. He got to within one match of regions, but then lost to a former state qualifier. Mika might take a big step next season with some off-season work now; getting more mat time is something that all of the Blue Devils will need, and gain benefit from, this off-season.
Projected returning starters for 2015-16: Eduardo Castillo (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling had him at 5-9, I had him at 3-10 at 120), Zachary Locke (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 7-15, I had him at 6-23 at 126), Stephen Hlawnchhing (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 19-14, I had him at 15-14 at 132), Mitchell Mika (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 20-15, I had him at 19-15 at 138), plus Alex Toney (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 11-14 at 113), Justin Cowell (senior in 15-16, I had him at 6-12 at 120) and Miguel Rocha (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 5-12 at 138).
2015-16 captain: Captains ought to have the most experience in season and in the post-season. That would make Stephen Hlawnchhing the most experienced returner, given his two-year run as a starter in the Blue Devil lineup. By the records I have generated this season, Hlawnchhing hung around the .500 mark for most of the year, but by what Track had, he had one fewer victory this past season than as a freshman. Districts, also, didn’t go all that well, either, as Hlawnchhing took two losses by fall, the second to a senior wanting to continue his high school career. Still, though, he has the most returning experience in the lineup, and much of the direction Stanton takes in the next couple of years will depend greatly upon his example for the younger Blue Devil wrestlers.
Heaton’s Hero: It took 10 losses, all but one coming by fall, before Zachary Locke would earn his first high school victory, and that was a forfeit win. The first contested win would come just a couple of matches later in that same weekend, the first Army Duals weekend, but the second wouldn’t come until the second Army Duals weekend, and there wouldn’t be a third until the Westside roundrobin. So that’s around one fall a month, from the first week of the season, but despite the difficult circumstances surrounding Locke and his teammates, he didn’t give up, continuing to make weight at 126 for the entire season up through districts, when his season came to an end via a pair of falls. You have to appreciate that kind of determination. Because of that unwillingness to concede, Zachary Locke is the Stanton representative of the Heaton’s Hero nomination.