Welcome back to our annual series of season wrap-up posts, which we cleverly titled as “The Season (20xx-xx).” Your donation dollars at work, folks.
This year, we’re not following a rotation scheme. We’re keeping it a bit more random this go-round. Using a highly scientific line of inquiry for the first change, our next installment in the series is Yulee.
Each The Season post will have the same content as they’ve had for the past four seasons. At the request of a reader last season, we will note the accomplishments of each team’s senior class that will be moving on to new goals in May or June.
You can see everything I have on the Hornets in 2017-18 here –> YULEE
Win/loss record: 14-9 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Hornets’ performance in IBT events.
Season in a nutshell: This looked to be a tricky year at the start for the Hornets, what with a couple of key transfers impacting the program even before the off-season began in earnest. But Yulee picked itself up, dusted itself off and still put together a solid season, winning eight of 11 duals after a 5-4 start. After an early win, though, the Hornets couldn’t solve West Nassau, handing over County after a pretty good run of success. IBT finishes also were slower in forthcoming, but from the end of January on, Yulee had five top-10 finishes (including a pair of runnerup efforts at Battle of the Border and districts), with a solid ninth at regions and top-half effort at states. Even with a solid graduating class leaving later this spring, there are 10 wrestlers back with a good amount of mat time, so Yulee should be OK once again in 2018-19.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season) for 2018-19 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Tristan Martinez (sophomore, 33-17 at 106, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Josh Brown (junior, 9-9 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season); Trevor Gladson (junior, 26-20 at 113, district runnerup, 1 match from state meet); Bryce Bees (junior, 39-14 at 120, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Aston Ricks (sophomore, 10-12 at 126, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Orion Duffy (senior, 27-22 at 132, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Christopher Francis (senior, 8-7 at 145, did not compete in post-season); Michael Crawford (senior, 33-16 at 195, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Bradley Durrance (junior, 19-12 at 220, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Grayson Pope (senior, 9-9 at 285, did not compete in post-season).
Graduation losses from this year’s team: Jonah Luna (7-16 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season); Logan Blaise (19-32 at 138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); De’Von Worthen (18-13 at 145, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Tyler Berrier (18-14 at 152, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Gunner Harrison (14-15 at 160, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Victor Jansen (13-23 at 170, 1 match short of regions); McKenzie Lewis (43-9 at 285, district champ, region 3rd, state 6th).
2017-18 MVP: We really started to see McKenzie Lewis get into off-season competition this past year, and the results paid off, in the form of a 40-plus win season, a district title, and a state medal, the first state medalist in school history for wrestling. Lewis had 100+ wins and was a two-time state qualifier, with a runnerup finish to a Georgia wrestler at Cam Brown in Tallahassee, plus a title at the South East Classic hosed by Space Coast. Lewis had two nine-match win streaks over the course of the year, with a third in-season tournament win at Battle on the Border. As “Big Mac” went, so, too, would Yulee go, and his presence will be missed after seven years in the Hornet program.
2018-19 captain: There are a few guys who could fit the bill with about equal capacity, based upon the resumes of this past year, and when that occurs, I tend to look for the senior returners among that mix. Given that, I’m going to tab Michael Crawford for the position. Crawford had had some struggles in his first two years while contending with the upper weights and still being an underclassman, but occasionally had some good runs where he seemed more comfortable this year. His 9-2 run from the end of the Space Coast tournament through the first part of district duals, and 9-3 run from North Metro through Wakulla were just two examples. We didn’t see those kinds of runs the first two seasons, and that should be helpful in his senior season.
Heaton’s Hero: Even in a year where kids struggled by comparison particularly to last year, there weren’t many kids who had under-.500 win/loss records. Victor Jansen has had one of the longer careers and presences on the varsity — for any level of success — and he’s stayed out, kept working at his spot in the lineup all this time, and was a good role model for the younger kids. He was the only Yulee wrestler who competed at districts that did not move on to the regional round, and I remember watching that match where his tournament run ended. It’s always tough when a senior’s career ends. But Jansen’s ended on the mat, not in front of a video-game machine, and for that, Victor Jansen is the Heaton’s Hero for Yulee.
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