The work continues. We are bringing back, for its sixth year, #TheSeason. We didn’t do these first year, but have ever since. It’s something nobody else does. We compile all season records and write a wrapup for each team.
We are now starting the fourth round of random selections from the 11 districts, plus our independent teams. Our first team up this round, 35th team overall and fourth team out of 2A-District 1, is Niceville.
You can see everything I have on the Eagles in 2019-20 here –> NICEVILLE
Win/loss record: 6-9 in dual meets reported to Matmen. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Eagles’ performance in IBT events. We were missing just one dual, the regular-season finale, for Niceville this year.
Season in a nutshell: The Eagles started the year at South Walton’s two-day Border Wars on December 6-7, placing 11th out of 20 teams. Niceville then competed in the purely IBT Capital City Classic at Chiles on the 13th and 14th, finishing 17th out of 28 teams. The Eagles had their first duals experience of the year at district rival Ft Walton Beach’s Beast of the Beach on the 20th and 21st, with a 2-6 weekend record. Niceville then wrapped up December with an appearance at district rival Pace’s one-day traditional tournament (no team scores were reported from the event). It stayed on the tournament trail right away in January, going to Hoover AL for the two-day Scott Rohrer Memorial on the 3rd and 4th, finishing 22nd out of 29 teams. Next up for the Eagles was the 2A-District 1 duals tournament on the 7th, where they reached the semis. Niceville then had its first competitive break for 10 days before going back to Tallahassee for the one-day Trojan Invitational duals tournament on the 18th, finishing 3-2 and placing third in the eight-team event. From there, it was all IBTs the rest of the way for the Eagles, starting with a T-4th finish at the inaugural George Mulligan Invitational at Bay on the 24th and 25th. Niceville next took seventh out of 20 teams at Wakulla’s two-day event on January 31-February 1, and was 16th out of 33 teams at the Clay Rotary on the 7th and 8th. The Eagles placed fourth at the District 1 traditional tournament, and finished exactly mid-pack (16th out of 32) at Region 1, with two state qualifiers. Niceville graduates six seniors from this past year’s team, but the Eagles will have as many as nine post-season or regular-season starters back next year; they’ve got a couple of other kids that participated in several tournaments during the year as well.
Note: Records are as compiled by Matmen and do not include the missing result.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season) for 2020-21 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Ethan Pinto (sophomore, 30-16 at 113, district champ, 1 match from states); Noah Tritz (senior, 19-22 at 120, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Andrew Randolph (sophomore, 4-10 at 126, 0-2 at districts); Ethan Bueno (junior, 19-25 at 126, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Austin Hunt (sophomore, 7-10 at 132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Ty Hawkins (junior, 22-27 at 138, 1 match from regions); Martin Black (junior, 19-9 at 160, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Bryce Travis (junior, 18-21 at 170, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Joe Hanson (sophomore, 7-18 at 285, 0-2 at districts).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Jayden Pinto (40-19 at 132, district runnerup, region 3rd, 1-2 at states); Keane Creager (46-17 at 145, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Jared Dieters (6-16 at 170, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Dante Barrett (7-24 at 182, 0-2 at districts); Sean Ripley (12-8 at 195, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Ramsey Kidder (30-20 at 220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions).
2019-20 MVP: Senior Jayden Pinto scored Niceville’s lone point at states in his first appearance there, pulling together a 40-win season to boot while competing mainly at 132. Pinto was 7-3 at Border Wars, placing third there, and was 2-1 at the first day of Capital City. Pinto was 5-3 at Beast of the Beach after an 0-2 start, and placed third at Pace with a 3-1 record. After a 3-2 weekend at Scott Rohrer, Pinto won eight matches in a row, with a 5-0 day at Trojan Invitational. He was 2-2 at Bay, but followed that up with a finals run at Wakulla, taking second there. Pinto was second at District 1, but avenged his loss there the following weekend at regions, where he lost only by a point to the eventual runnerup and had a 4-1 weekend. At states, Pinto lost to the eventual 3rd in the first round, but found a win in the consi rounds.
2020-21 captain: Rising sophomore Ethan Pinto was one of Niceville’s two district champions and had the strongest 2020 post-season run of the returning Eagle wrestlers, getting to within one match of the state tournament at 113. Pinto started off slowly, going 9-9 through Scott Rohrer, but then won 13 of his next 16 matches; he was 3-2 with three bonus-point wins at Trojan and pinned his way through George Mulligan. Pinto followed that title up with a 4-1 weekend, with four pins, and a third-place effort at Wakulla, and a 4-2 tournament at Clay. Pinto then won twice for his district title, and had three bonus-point wins in getting to Saturday’s rounds at Region 1, the only returning Eagle to get that far.
Zander Laurin Warrior: Getting on the doorstep of the state tournament, without being able to push through the door, is wrestling’s ultimate disappointment, and I know how much it affected then-junior Keane Creager a year ago, because I saw him come off the mat one match short of states. This year, as a senior, Creager led the Eagles in wins (46), including a 7-3 weekend at Border Wars, a fourth-place finish at Capital City, a 6-2 weekend (with the losses to out-of-state wrestlers) at Beast, a 5-1 weekend at Scott Rohrer, 4-1 at Trojan (with the only loss a weight class up), a third at George Mulligan, runnerup showing at Wakulla and a 4-3 sixth-place finish at Clay. But none of that was going to matter without ripping that last door open. After taking a District 1 title at 145, Creager fell in double overtime for his third loss of the season to a region rival, but then won four matches on the back to rally back for third, including a win that avenged those losses. For refusing to give up on going to states, Keane Creager is the Zander Laurin Warrior for Niceville.
#BierlyStrong: It was good to see the recovery and progress made by head coach Tom Bierly during the course of the season after suffering from a stroke. Additionally, special note is made of Bierly’s retirement from the Air Force this week. The Eagles have benefited greatly from his leadership these past two seasons.
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