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 33rd installment for this season, and fourth from 3A-District 1, is Fleming Island.
Each The Season post will have the same content as they’ve had for the past five seasons.
You can see everything I have on the Golden Eagles in 2018-19 here –> FLEMING ISLAND
Win/loss record: 17-1 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Golden Eagles’ performance in IBT events.
Season in a nutshell: Get ready for a longggggg paragraph here. With one exception, Fleming Island finished no lower than third in any tournament in 2018-19, and won all but one dual wrestled. The Golden Eagles started with a third-place team finish at the Danny Byron Invitational, hosted by Osceola, to open the season on the first weekend. The second weekend saw a second third-place finish at Lyman’s Bill Scott Memorial. The Golden Eagles then had their first local competition of the year, holding the rest of the St Johns River Conference to just five match wins in sweeping to a 7-0 weekend. The only hiccup came — understandably — at Knockout between Christmas and New Year’s, where Fleming tied for 26th in that tournament’s loaded field. The Golden Eagles shook that off quickly, with a win at their own Robert Northway “Keystone” Invitational the first weekend of January. They then outscored two district opponents 141-3 in winning the 3A-District 1 dual team tournament midweek before going 3-0 in duals and finishing second at Palm Bay’s Ships N Duels on the second weekend. After that tournament, the Golden Eagles focused on state duals, with two double-digit wins in the 3A-Region 1 quarters and semis mid-month, a third double-digit win for the region title at Osceola on the last weekend of January, and a dominant semifinal win at state duals that same weekend. Fleming then pushed South Dade harder than any team has in nearly a decade before falling in the state dual title match. South Dade got the better of Fleming again the following weekend at the MyHouse Tri-County Invitational at Olympic Heights, as the Golden Eagles were second. Fleming then ran the table with titles at Clay Rotary, 3A-District 1 and 3A-Region 1 traditional tournaments, qualifying 13 wrestlers for state. There, the Golden Eagles finished second to South Dade, with five medalists — including one champion. It’s going to be a massive season for Fleming in 2019; this upcoming year is not a season like last season, where there was some reloading to be done. No fewer than 18 (!) Fleming wrestlers can return in 2019-20 with either post-season or significant regular-season experience — and that’s not including some real gems that fell just short of 15 matches, click the attached document if you don’t believe me. Of those 18, 12 were region qualiifers last year (11 of those 12 as district champions). Ten of those 12 qualified for states, with four of them earning state medals. Not for nothing, but Fleming should rightly be favored as the top 3A team in Florida next season.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2019-20 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Hunter Herrington (junior, 39-14 at 106, district champ, did not compete at regions); Riley Holton (junior, 46-15 at 113, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Ryan Hobson (senior, 39-23 at 126, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states-injured); Isaac Padgett (sophomore, 16-7 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Dalton Baysinger (junior, 22-15 at 132, district champ, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Garrett Cole (junior, 23-14 at 132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Dalton Williams (senior, 37-14 at 138, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Gannon Janssen (senior, 48-12 at 145, district champ, region 3rd, state 6th); Braden Hill (senior, 6-9 at 145/152/170, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Hunter Williams (sophomore, 14-4 at 145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Connor Rogers (senior, 23-6 at 145/152, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Luke Chop (senior, 55-6 at 152, district champ, region 3rd, state 3rd); Tanner Hill (senior, 52-11 at 160, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Gavin Smith (junior, 48-17 at 170, district champ, region 3rd, state 5th); Nick Janssen (senior, 30-16 at 182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Chad Nix (senior, 53-7 at 195, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Robert Tyre (sophomore, 15-1 at 195/220/285, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Jeffrey Lascano (senior, 45-7 at 220, district champ, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Raul Gonzalez (junior, 36-14 at 285, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Briar Jackson (57-7 at 120, district champ, region champ, state CHAMPION); Anthony Breeden (41-14 at 182, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states).
2018-19 MVP: He was the Florida Times-Union’s Wrestler of the Year, Fleming’s first two-time state wrestling champion and its emotional leader almost as soon as he walked into the room. Soon-to-graduate Briar Jackson (he walks tomorrow evening, so I’ve been informed) is the only choice for this award this year. For him, he got out to a slow start, with six of his seven losses in December (to be fair, two were to a Division I signee, the other four to current or future college signees, including two potentially, one certainly, for Division I). Post-Knockout, Jackson was 42-1, with titles at Keystone, Ships N Duels and Clay Rotary, with only a one-point loss in the finals at MyHOUSE Tri-County. No matter; from there, Jackson ripped off wins in his final 17 matches, with titles at Clay, districts, regions and states, where he avenged one of his December losses. We’ll get to follow Briar for another four years at Life University, briefly on #NextLevel hits on this site and probably a bit more detailed on our affiliated Georgia site, which will have expanded #NextLevel pieces.
2019-20 captain: A lot of teams, the MVP and captain choices are pretty easy ones to make. Not so for Fleming Island, where there are 18 kids back that picked up a mere 647 wins between them (that’s nearly 36 PER RETURNER). There are so many directions to go with this one. Lots of leader possibilities. But I started hearing about this coming year’s Fleming senior group even before it started as freshmen, and of those, the consistency that Luke Chop demonstrated right from the jump as its group leader stands out to me the most strongly. Chop had just two losses this year that weren’t against current or former state champions, with a second at Danny Byron, third at Lyman, plus titles at Keystone and Ships N Duels. Chop won 28 straight matches and 34 of his last 36, with a district title, region 3rd (only loss was 2-1) and state 3rd (only loss to the eventual champ, in the semis).
Zander Laurin Warrior: If you wrestled for Fleming this past year, chances were you had a better than .500 record, and if you started the post-season, 100% chance of making regions and making Saturday at regions. So I kind of looked to the second group of kids, and the season that junior Connor Rogers had as a backup at 145/152 really stood out to me. His first competition was at Keystone, where his only losses were to eventual state medalists. He was 8-0 with max points scored in all eight wins for Fleming’s B group at the USMC Duals. He reached the final at MyHOUSE Tri-County, filling in for Chop at 152, and finished fifth at Clay Rotary, again filling in for Chop. He’s one of the better wrestlers in the state that very few have heard of, and that’s why Connor Rogers is the Zander Laurin Warrior for Fleming Island.
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