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 future Lady Matmen is making the random selections the rest of the way), our next installment in the series is Ft Walton Beach, our last team in 2A-District 1 and our second (kind of third, with the partial set of 1A-District 5 all in the books) completed district thus far.
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 as graduates.
FT WALTON BEACH
You can see everything I have on the Vikings in 2017-18 here –> FT WALTON BEACH
Win/loss record: 7-18 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Vikings’ performance in IBT events.
Season in a nutshell: Ft Walton Beach opened the 2017-18 north Florida wrestling season with a loss to Choctaw on November 28, then took 20th in a very strong 23-team field at Border Wars that first weekend of December. Duals would be FWB’s format for the rest of December and a little bit into January. The next event would be the Vikings’ “Snow Day” event at Auburn HS in Alabama, aptly named because of, well, snow that shut down most teams from coming. After an 0-4 day there, FWB took a loss to Niceville in the inaugural 2A-District 1 duals tournament on December 16, then got busy with hosting their two-day Beast of the Beach event on December 21-22, where the Vikings picked up their first dual win over nearby rival Arnold, adding wins over Bozeman, North Bay Haven and Mosley for a 4-5 tournament. FWB avenged its loss to Choctaw on January 4, taking a dual victory to kick off 2018, and then was off until the 12th-13th, where it was 14th at the two-day Southeastern Pools roundrobin. The Vikings rallied for a midpack finish at Wewahitchka’s Gator Brawl (10th out of 20 teams), and then closed out their dual season with a 2-6 weekend at the North Bay Haven Bash in the final weekend of January. FWB took sixth at districts and then was 15th at Region 1, with one state qualifier. The Vikings…
Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2018-19 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Weston Burbidge (sophomore, 23-29 at 106, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Brandon Mallin (sophomore, 33-20 at 113, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Caleb Tourgee (sophomore, 14-10 at 132, 1 match from regions); Tino Muniz (sophomore, 14-8 at 138, did not compete in post-season); Walker Robinson (sophomore, 8-19 at 138, 1 match from regions); Eddie Alexis (junior, 20-18 at 160, 1 match from regions); Corban Ferguson (junior, 7-9 at 170, did not compete in post-season); Kaleb Williams (sophomore, 13-9 at 182, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Owen Yancy (senior, 7-15 at 220, did not compete in post-season); Valentin Tristan (junior, 10-16 at 285, 1 match from regions).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Sterling Glover (12-19 at 120, 1 match from regions); Colwyn Mason (12-19 at 132, did not compete in post-season); Nick Woodward (39-9 at 170, district champ, 1 match from states); Connor Cleveland (22-6 at 195, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states).
2017-18 MVP: We didn’t see a lot of Connor Cleveland this year, as he had a partial tournament only at Border Wars, and only appeared otherwise at Beast of the Beach in December, but Cleveland would wind up being the Vikings’ only state qualifier in 2017-18, winning his first 16 matches. He was second at the Southeastern Pools tournament, losing only to a very solid Tennessee wrestler. Cleveland then was out for the rest of January, returning only for Wakulla, where he had a tough tournament, finishing 1-2. But he would then finish off with a nice run in the post-season, with five consecutive wins that propelled him to a 2A-District 1 traditional title and a finals berth at Region 1, where he went six minutes and gave up only a simple decision to an eventual state placer and fellow Matmen MVP. Cleveland had a short state tournament on Friday in Kissimmee, but battled well, with two losses by decision.
2018-19 captain: With four multi-year starters — including both present and former state qualifiers — having moved on due to graduation, the Vikings are going to need leadership on the mat wherever they can find it in 2018-19, and one surprising source was the performance of freshman Brandon Mallin this past year. Mallin struggled at the start with the competition of Border Wars and Snow Day, losing his first three matches and getting a 5-11 start halfway through Beast of the Beach. But, from there, Mallin would go 28-9 the rest of the way, including a seven-match win streak that began at Southeastern Pools and continued through Gator Brawl, and an 11-match win streak that included an 8-0 performance at North Bay Haven Bash and an appearance in the finals at Wakulla. Mallin got to the finals at the 2A-District 1 traditional tournament, losing to one of the top 113s in north Florida, and had two bonus-point wins at Region 1. His recovery will be a good path to follow for the younger Vikings in 2018-19.
Heaton’s Hero: It’s not the same, quite, as being a senior and losing in the blood round at regions, but being a senior and losing in the blood round of districts is pretty dang close to just as horrific, and that was the fate for Sterling Glover this past season. After an 0-5 start, Glover won six of his next seven matches, but then struggled to establish any momentum in the second half of the season, going 6-13. He won one match at Southeastern Pools, but rallied to pick up five pins at Gator Brawl. That would be Glover’s highlight of the season, as he would not find a win in February, going 0-2 at both Wakulla and at the 2A-District 1 traditional tournament. For battling through the adversity of a senior year that didn’t go according to plan, Sterling Glover is the Heaton’s Hero for Ft Walton Beach.
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