Welcome back to our annual series of season wrap-up posts, which we cleverly titled as “The Season (2017-18).” 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 Milton, our fourth team from this district. Not sure if any, let alone a few, districts are halfway done like this one.
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 Panthers in 2017-18 here –> MILTON
Win/loss record: 0-18 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Panthers’ performance in IBT events.
Season in a nutshell: Milton got started with its season in the second week, first full one in December, with dual meets only for that month, and duals tended to be a tough go for the Panthers, although they did take Bay to criteria at the Gulf Breeze Duals on December 9. That was just one of two dual losses that came by single digits for Milton, both of those at Gulf Breeze. After winless experiences at Gulf Breeze and Beast of the Beach, the Panthers were done with dual tournaments for the year, with two dates in January against district rivals and a double dual on February 1. Milton had just one regular-season IBT/roundrobin event on the calendar, that being Gator Brawl, where the Panthers were 16th in a 20-team field. After finishing eighth at districts, Milton did post a top-20 finish at Region 1, with one state qualifier. That state qualifier is the Panthers’ lone graduate, with eight returners having 15+ matches this past year, plus several more right on the cusp of 15. Hopefully Milton will be able to enjoy a bit more team success in 2018-19.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2018-19 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Micah Kendrick (sophomore, 4-20 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Gabriel Walls (sophomore, 5-21 at 126, did not compete in post-season); Brandon Nicholson (junior, 10-6 at 132, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Ian Van Gestel (senior, 6-13 at 138, 1 match from regions); Christopher Cobbs (senior, 2-7 at 152, 1 match from regions); Daniel McDonal (junior, 16-19 at 160, 1 match from regions); Devin Bundy (senior, 9-26 at 182, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Caleb Wise (sophomore, 9-12 at 220, did not compete in post-season).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Connor Saint (26-5 at 285, district 3rd, region runnerup, 0-2 at states).
2017-18 MVP: Without question, Milton’s top wrestler this season — probably last season as well — was Connor Saint, who won his first 16 matches of the year to start the season, with 10 falls among those 16 victories. Saint had a shortened season, to some degree, with a runnerup showing at Tate, and just two matches at Gator Brawl, but he pulled things together when he returned to the lineup in February. Saint took third at districts, but then had a solid tournament run at regions, pinning his way through to the finals to qualify out for state as the Panthers’ lone qualifier. He took two decision losses on Friday in Kissimmee, both of them fairly close. Saint had a pretty solid career in his time with the Panthers.
2018-19 captain: I have a couple of directions I can go with this one, but I think I’m going to go with the most talented returner eligible to come back, and that would be Brandon Nicholson, although he didn’t get that many matches this past year (just 16 for the year after a sparkling freshman season). He did start off fast, with a 5-0 day at Gulf Breeze Duals on the second Saturday in December, but then didn’t get much mat time between the 2A-District 1 duals tournament and the traditional version of that same tournament. Nicholson took four losses in his final six matches of the year, but two of those six were by a combined total of five points. If he can have a complete junior year, he could still very much be in contention for the state tournament before he’s done.
Heaton’s Hero: There wasn’t much in the way of contested-match success for junior 182 Devin Bundy this year, at least early on. He did have a pin in an early dual meet, but that was it until the Aggie Invitational, aisde from a couple of forfeits along the way, and most of his losses came by fall, came quickly, and usually in the first period. But as the season wore on, Bundy picked up just a little bit more success, with three pins at Gator Brawl. After losing by fall in the quarterfinals at districts, it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see an early exit. But Bundy pinned his way past two opponents to extend his season for another week. We like to see that at Matmen, and for his stick-to-it-iveness, Devin Bundy is the Heaton’s Hero for Milton.
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