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The Season 2017-18: South Walton

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, our next installment in the series is South Walton, our third team out of 1A-District 1.

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.

SOUTH WALTON

You can see everything I have on the Seahawks in 2017-18 here –>  SOUTH WALTON

Win/loss record: 3-7 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Seahawks’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Small team, big results at the end. We didn’t see all that much from the group as a whole at Border Wars (middle of the pack 14th), or at Capital City Classic (T-18th), but the first solid result was at the inaugural 1A-District 1 duals tournament, where South Walton had two solid wins and then pushed Marianna to the brink before falling by one point in the title match. Being short-handed cost the Seahawks at Beast of the Beach, where they were 1-5 in the two-day duals tournament. Between Christmas and New Year’s, though, the worm started turning, as South Walton was sixth at the Soddy Daisy (TN) Invitational, then fourth at the Billy Saylor at Suwannee. The Seahawks were in the top half of the field at the two-day Louisiana Classic IBT in mid-January, then finished sixth at the 20-team Gator Brawl and at Yulee’s Battle on the Border to close out that month. It was February where South Walton really started putting things together, with runnerup efforts at Wakulla and again in 1A-District 1, with a sixth at regions and a 20th-place team finish at 1A states. Most of the firepower will return in 2018-19 for the Seahawks, with nine of 10 starters back. However, eight of those nine are seniors, so it will be imperative for South Walton to start adding some younger talent to the mix.

Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2018-19 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Levi McConnell (senior, 11-6 at 120, did not compete in post-season); Ethan Pickren (senior, 58-2 at 126, district champ, region champ, state 3rd), Seth Weinthal (senior, 41-11 at 132, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Dylan Haman (senior, 26-9 at 138, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Chase Maddox (sophomore, 26-21 at 145, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Joseph Gajewski (senior, 13-20 at 152, 1 match from regions); Harris Barton (senior, 39-14 at 170, district champ, region 4th, 1 match from state medal); Mason Levasseur (senior, 18-5 at 182, district runnerup, did not compete at regions); Cole Anderson (senior, 4-12 at 195/220, 1 match from regions).

Graduation losses from this year’s team: Gunnar Nebel (38-15 at 160, district champ, 1 match from states).

2017-18 MVP: Ethan Pickren wasn’t happy with the way his sophomore season went a year ago, where he qualified for states but couldn’t replicate his state-finalist showing in 2016. The results this season, right from the jump, proved that Pickren was after bigger game, as he won at Border Wars and took second to a three-time 3A state medalist at Capital City. After that loss in Tallahassee, Pickren didn’t lose again until the finals of the Louisiana Classic, winning 21 matches in a row, with titles at Soddy Daisy and Billy Saylor. After that loss, a one-point decision to Louisiana’s top 126, Pickren wouldn’t lose again until states, taking 25 wins in a row, with title wins at Gator Brawl, Battle on the Border, Wakulla, districts and regions. His only loss was to the eventual state champion, by just one takedown. Pickren will be at or very near the top of the state at whatever weight class he competes in for the 2018-19 year.

2018-19 captain: Harris Barton had some pretty impressive wins a few years back, but then spent his first two seasons concentrating on baseball, putting wrestling aside. He returned this year and had a solid if not necessarily spectacular start to the year, going 15-7 through the Billy Saylor tournament, winning seven of nine matches at one point. Down the stretch, though, Barton found a groove. After going 0-2 at the Louisiana Classic, Barton then won 20 of his next 21 matches, with a runnerup finish to a former state qualifier at Gator Brawl, and titles at Yulee, Wakulla and districts. Barton then continued that solid run into regions and states. After a fourth-place finish at Region 1 — including a double-overtime loss in the quarters — Barton then was just one match short of the podium, with two bonus-point wins there. His talent will be a big part of South Walton’s success next year.

Heaton’s Hero: Cole Anderson has been a bit behind his classmates in terms of success on the mats, but he has continued to push through, getting most of his mat time in during the month of December. As part of his four wins this year, Anderson did pick up a pair of pins, one at 1A-District 1 duals and the other at Beast of the Beach, but then didn’t get on the mats again until the post-season, where he went 0-2 and was one match from the region tournament. But Anderson started the year and finished the year with the Seahawks, and for that, Cole Anderson is the Heaton’s Hero for South Walton.

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