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#TheSeason2018-19: Middleburg

Welcome back to our annual series of season wrap-up posts, which we cleverly titled as “The Season (2018-19),” because we’re creative like that. Your donation dollars at work, folks.

Teams are being selected on a random basis. Our 15th installment for this season, and second from 2A-District 3, is Middleburg.

Each The Season post will have the same content as they’ve had for the past five seasons.

MIDDLEBURG

MIDDLEBURG LOGO

You can see everything I have on the Broncos in 2018-19 here –>  MIDDLEBURG

Win/loss record: 10-7 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Broncos’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: For a team so short-handed, the Broncos had some decent successes this past year, certainly so at the individual level. Middleburg finished in the top half with a sixth-place finish at the 16-team Westside Kiwanis Invitational the first weekend of December, following that up with a 4-1 performance at the one-day Bulldog Brawl at St Cloud on the second weekend, with a loss only to the hosts. Middleburg was 3-4 at the two-day St Johns River Conference duals tournament just before Christmas, and then took two weeks off. Then, the Broncos had a midpack finish at the Keystone Invitational (10th out of 18 teams) on the first week of January. Middleburg then qualified out of the 2A-District 3 dual team tournament, going 3-1 in the event, on the 9th of January. The Broncos brought a very short-handed group to Yulee for its Battle of the Border, taking eighth out of 11 teams, and then lost in their one dual at the 2A-Region 1 quarterfinals. Solid tournament finishes would be tough to find until the 2A-Region 1 traditional tournament, mainly due to numbers, the rest of the way, as Middleburg was 12th at Trojan Invitational, 21st at Flagler Rotary and 29th at Clay’s Green Cove Springs Rotary. Even the 2A-District 3 traditional tournament proved a challenge, as the Broncos were fifth out of seven teams. But Middleburg posted a nice 11th place finish at Region 1, with three state qualifiers, two of which won matches at states. The Broncos have nine wrestlers back next year that either reached the post-season or saw significant regular-season mat time, but just two of them won a match at districts, and all of their 2019 state qualifiers will graduate next month.

Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2019-20 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Riley Girgis (sophomore, 34-16 at 106, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Devon Gill (senior, 14-7 at 106/113, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Casey Crafton (sophomroe, 13-18 at 113/120, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Enoch Long (sophomore, 13-4 at 126, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Ephraim Long (sophomore, 13-5 at 132, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Michael Higginbotham (junior, 15-13 at 152/160, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Alex Nayfack (junior, 21-24 at 160, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Ethan Larsen (sophomore, 9-9 at 170, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Chris Conaway (junior, 10-19 at 182, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).

Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Storm Mercado (37-5 at 138, district champ, region champ, 1 match from state medal); Chris Burch (30-16 at 145, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Bryce Williams (27-11 at 152, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states).

2018-19 MVP: Senior Storm Mercado made himself into the Broncos’ top competitor this past season, winning his first 13 matches of the year, with a title at Westside Kiwanis and an unbeaten day at Bulldog Brawl. Mercado then won 20 straight matches in a streak that began after a first-day loss at Keystone Invitational on the first weekend of January and didn’t end until the first day of states. Mercado didn’t appear in the lineup from around the middle of January until districts and it perhaps comes as no surprise that the Broncos struggled the most when he wasn’t in the lineup, which proved his value. When he returned, for districts, Mercado won seven straight matches in the post-season series, with district and region titles, and got to Saturday before coming up a match short of a state medal.

2019-20 captain: Freshman 106 Riley Girgis is the only Middleburg returner that made it to the second day at Chiles for regions this past season. Girgis started the year at 113, wrestling his first 11 matches at that weight, with a third-place finish at Westside Kiwanis and an eight-match win streak that included a 5-0 day at Bulldog brawl. Girgis then won five matches in a row at Keystone Invitational, taking third at the Trojan Invitational in mid-July. He added another third-place finish at traditional districts and was 2-2 at regions, and that winning experience will be key for next year’s Bronco team.

Heaton’s Hero: Sophomore Chris Conaway spent the year usually at 182 or 195 as the Broncos’ “big” in the lineup. Conaway got out to a decent start, going 6-3 through the first couple of tournmaments early in December, but when Keystone arrived in January, that’s when struggles began, as Conaway lost 16 of his last 20 matches, including 10 of his last 11, all by fall. But Conaway only missed a couple of outings in the Bronco lineup, continuing to man his post up top. After nearly a month out of action between Flagler Rotary and districts, Conaway re-emerged at 182 for the Broncos, helping the group out with advancement points at the district level. That determination is what we look for, even in the face of adversity, and it makes Chris Conaway the Heaton’s Hero for Middleburg.

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