Next up: Bradford
Season record: 20-6 in duals.
Tournament record: 6th at Westside Kiwanis December 12-13, 3rd at St. Cloud Bulldog Brawl December 19-20, 4th at St Johns River Conference IBT February 7, 12th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 2nd at 2A-District 3 meet February 27, 2nd at 2A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-17th at 2A State meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: The Broncos made it clear right from the start that it was going to take a very strong team to knock them off, and it was not until January in a dual format before anyone did, as the Broncos had a pair of nine-win dual streaks during the season. Middleburg finished tied for fourth in our final team rankings, and only one team ranked below the Broncos did beat them — and it was, essentially, an away dual. But Middleburg was also very solid in IBTs, with three top-10s and just missing out on a fourth one at Clay. The Broncos finished just behind 2A Clay rival Orange Park at districts, but just ahead of the Raiders at regions, and had three placewinners en route to a top-20 team finish at states. With eight starters returning, including three hammers and three solid guys up top, Middleburg will be a force next season, too, particularly if it can find — or grow — some middles to fill in the center of the lineup.
2014-15 MVP: I could go in a few different directions for this one, but ultimately a choice has to be made, and I have to go with the guy who was ranked the highest in his weight class all season, and that would be 2015 graduate Zach McClinton. After a year away from the mats in 2013-14, McClinton (Trackwrestling and I had him at 45-8 at 138 pounds) returned to his starting role for Middleburg bigger, stronger and probably wiser. He was a top-3 pick in the weight class even before 2A rival Kaleb Warner moved up for the post-season, and by the end of the year was at least the #2 at the weight, with a claim for the top spot thanks to his state medal. McClinton dominated District 3 and Region 1 (where he pinned his way through the bracket without having to go to the second period). Before states, his only losses were to either state champs or 3A wrestlers. I wish I’d had more than one year to get a look at him, but anytime you can close out your career on the state podium, it’s a success.
Returning starters for 2015-16 (it should be noted that there were two wrestlers who had results at the SJR dual portion of the conference meet that were not reflected in the official results — as the host was also an area team, and they were not corrected on official, I kept the official result. You’ll see them if you click the link and scroll enough): Dylan Rossetti (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 39-7, I had him at 38-8 at 106), Joel King (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 10-14, I had him at 9-14 at 113), Bailey Custer (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 2-5, I had him at 19-22 at 120), Keath Sawdo (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 33-10, I had him at 32-11 at 145), Jonathan Shoen (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 39-10, I had him at 38-10 at 170), Kurt Jackson (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 24-17, I had him at 25-16 at 182), Ammon Meeks (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 32-17, I had him at 33-17 at 195), plus Robert Sheridan (senior in 15-16, I had him at 8-6 at 106/113), Austin Benton (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 4-3 at 120), Cody Eastwood (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 2-5 at 160/170) and Dylan Hanna (junior in 15-16, I had him at 18-5 at 170/182).
2015-16 captain: There’s no way to pick between them, so I’m going to — as I have for a couple of other teams — list two captains for the Broncos next year. Dylan Rossetti eats, breathes and sleeps wrestling. Everywhere I go, in-season or off, Dylan and his dad are there, unless Middleburg has a competition the same night and I’m not at it. The scouting one can pick up with that kind of mindset is a valuable asset that can’t be overlooked. Rossetti won his first 16 matches of 2014-15 and was ranked #1 at the weight for a good chunk of the season before winning districts and finishing second at regions. Combine Rossetti’s savvy with the physical skills of a Jonathan Shoen, and you have a fantastic combination. Shoen went 17-2 down the stretch between a loss to Palm Coast MVP Jake Trivett at the Flagler Duals and states, going 13-10 with Suwannee MVP Sasha Key. He dominated District 3, pinning his way through (including Ridgeview’s MVP) and then had four bonus-point wins, with none of them terribly close, at regions. Rossetti and Shoen, in different ways, should be excellent leaders for the Broncos next year.
Heaton’s Hero: While Eastwood is always going to be a HoF member (along with Columbia’s Christian Thompson) of this group of great kids, we’ll take a different direction for this season. As we mentioned above, the Broncos’ season accelerated in competitiveness as it got further along, and (other than the aces, of which are there many in the Middleburg lineup) most of the Broncos’ records took a little bit of a hit. Not so for freshman Joel King, who struggled early, but finished, by comparison, far stronger. He got his first cut in the lineup at St. Cloud, but was only 2-6 through the Orange Park 10-Way Duals in mid-January. From there, though, his record improved significantly, as he was either 7-8 or 8-8 down the stretch, qualified out of the strongest district in the region, and won two matches at regions. More work with the Broncos’ solid lower-weight crew and good off-season time should only help him get experience. For a strong finish when he needed it, Joel King is the Middleburg representative for the Heaton’s Hero nomination.