Next up: Baker County.
Season record: 16-10 in duals.
Tournament record: 5th at Westside Kiwanis December 12-13, 20th at Palm Coast Rotary January 9-10, 3rd at Gateway Conference January 16-17, 18th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 7th at 3A-District 1 meetFebruary 28, 22nd at 3A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-68th at 3A state meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: You’ve probably seen I list a few starters that maybe were quite part-time. My cutoff (I think) has been six matches minimum. This was to give some credit to kids who played fill-in roles for their teams while the main starter was out for various and sundry reasons. With Fletcher, the plug-and-play thing is a very real thing. Other than at a few weights during the course of the season, there wasn’t really a fixed starter. The MVP yes, next year’s captain yes, and about four or five others, but at a lot of weights, the Senators had a fluid lineup. I can understand the rationales involved: getting kids mat time, 50-50 in terms of ability, and the like. But without a fixed lineup for whatever the reason, I think it hurt Fletcher competitively at times, at least as a team. The Senators couldn’t hold their Gateway crown, and it was probably unfair to expect this very young group to do so, particularly with teams like Sandalwood and First Coast on the move. But 7th at districts was a low point. The Senators will want to aim higher.
2014-15 MVP: The Senators’ MVP wasn’t a starter last year — in fact, he barely registered on the varsity radar at all. What a difference a year makes for senior Nick Hobday, who made his first full year with the varsity team one to remember, as he won a Gateway Conference title, qualified for regions (with only a one-point loss keeping him out of the district final) and states. Hobday finished the season 32-13 (Track had him at 33-10) and was able to accomplish more than what he might ever have expected for himself, finishing the year ranked fourth among area 138s. Most importantly for this young Fletcher lineup, he was in the lineup from the very beginning of the season, and other than the North Florida Duals that kicked off the season for the Senators, he was the regular 138 in the lineup for every event.
Returning starters for 2015-16: Trent Dalldorf (junior in 15-16, Trackwrestling had him at 26-14, I had him at 30-15 at 106), Brandon Cuevas (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 11-13, I had him at 13-13 at 113), Oren Punnett (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 3-14, I had him at 9-13 at 126), Conner Smith (sophomore in 15-16, Track had him at 0-2, I had him at 5-8 at 132), Dominic Belew (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 1-2, I had him at 22-14 at 152), Julian Fix (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 10-17, I had him at 8-15 at 160), Bryce Bednarski (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 11-17, I had him at 9-18 at 195), plus MANY (as mentioned above) part-time starters, including: Zach Collier (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 5-2 at 106), Tommy Pugh (junior in 15-16< i had him at 7-13 at 120), Nathan Bowcock (junior in 15-16, I had him at 6-6 at 126), Jeffery Ashton (junior in 15-16, I had him at 6-5 at 132), Chase Henry (junior in 15-16, I had him at 3-5 at 138/145), Donovan Tompkins (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 2-6 at 145/152), Owen Beining (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 17-10 at 160/170), Josh Kelly (junior in 15-16, I had him at 6-10 at 220/285).
2015-16 captain: A guy who could follow in Hobday’s footsteps is going to be a guy who’s got some skills already in hand (Hobday understudied under some pretty-talented Senator wrestlers) and also a guy that stays in the lineup. The best example for this, to me, for next season is going to be Dalldorf. There were only four matches during the course of the season where Dalldorf wasn’t the guy at 106 for Fletcher. Dalldorf was a 30-match winner for the Senators in 2014-15, finished third at the Gateway at 106, and was a region qualifier. While he didn’t finish the season ranked at 106, he was ranked during the season at the weight, and was always near the mix. His consistency will be something that Fletcher needs next season.
Heaton’s Hero: It’s a struggle, sometimes, for an inexperienced, younger upper weight to wrestle up a weight for a majority of the season, but that’s what Bryce Bednarski faced in dealing with being slotted into 220 for most of the year. Bednarski had just one win by fall and one by decision at 220 before slotting down to 195 for the stretch run of the season. At that point, his record got better (I had him at 5-6 after he dropped), but the post-season still resulted in an 0-2 end to his season. He did finish fourth at Gateway, and that’s not too bad, but he’ll need to get some offseason experience and another couple full years in the lineup. But this year was a good start, even if there were a lot of losses to that start. This year’s Heaton’s Hero nominee for Fletcher is Bryce Bednarski.