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 have reached the halfway mark of the fifth round of random selections from the 11 districts. Our sixth team up this round and the fifth from 3A-District 1, the 52nd team overall, is Oakleaf.
You can see everything I have on the Knights in 2019-20 here –> OAKLEAF
Win/loss record: 38-14 in dual meets reported to Matmen. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Knights’ performance in IBT events. All records were as compiled by Matmen, as all results were available on Track.
Season in a nutshell: Oakleaf began the season at its traditional season-opening duals tournament, nearby Bishop Snyder’s North Florida Duals, on December 7, and the Knights were 3-2 on the day. After a midweek dual loss on the 11th, the Knights hosted a Friday-night duals tournament, the Friday Knight Lights, where Oakleaf was 3-2 on the 13th. Oakleaf stayed in duals mode to close out December, traveling to Yulee for its two-day duals tournament, compiling a 6-2 weekend record and placing T-7th. After the holidays, Oakleaf went to county and district rival Fleming Island’s two-day Keystone Memorial tournament, going 5-0 in first-day duals competition on January 3rd and finishing sixth out of 20 teams in second-day IBT competition on the 4th. The Clay County Knights then hosted the 3A-District 1 dual team tournament on the 8th, taking a 2-1 record on the night and placing second, good enough to advance to Region 1. First, though, the Knights went to Terry Parker’s USMC Duals on the 10th-11th, and Oakleaf ran the table with a 7-0 weekend record, winning the tournament title. Oakleaf fell in the Region 1 dual team quarterfinals on the 16th, with a second loss that night against a fellow team knocked out in the quarterfinal round. After a midweek dual win on the 22nd, the Knights went back to Terry Parker for the Parker Duals, sending two teams in to compete, with the A group finishing 6-3 on the weekend. Oakleaf finished up January with a T-7th place finish at the 33-team, two-day Flagler Rotary IBT on February 1st. The Knights then were 4-1 and finished second at Englewood’s one-day Rams Classic on February 7 and wrapped up the regular season with a midweek dual win on the 12th. Oakleaf repeated its second-place District 1 finish in traditional format and placed ninth at the Region 1 tournament at Fleming Island, sending two wrestlers to 3A states in Kissimmee. There, the Knights were T-41st out of 67 teams. Although Oakleaf will graduate two key seniors this season, there does seem to be plenty in the cupboard, as the Clay County Knights can call upon as many as 16 post-season/regular-season starters with significant mat time in 2020-21, plus a couple more kids here and there that saw some a couple of starts from time to time.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season) for 2020-21 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Denzell Keeton (sophomore, 17-27 at 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Andrew Brandt (sophomore, 19-30 at 113, 1 match from regions); Marcus McGee (junior, 60-14 at 120, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Kevin Gilley (senior, 15-11 at 126, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jason Stewart (senior, 25-22 at 126/132, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Trevor Owens (senior, 44-21 at 132, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Gavin Bamber (junior, 13-13 at 132/138, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Logan Gilbert (senior, 22-8 at 138, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Roman Polinsky (sophomore, 19-13 at 138/145, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Dean Dahlem (senior, 16-25 at 145, 0-2 at districts); David Parkes (senior, 40-12 at 152, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); James McClintic (senior, 36-20 at 160, 1 match from regions); Onjel Caraballo (junior, 28-23 at 170, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Mason Ganion (junior, 13-8 at 170/182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Isiah Schevchook (sophomore, 42-18 at 195, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Benjamin Gaddis (sophomore, 9-7 at 285, did not compete in post-season traditionals).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Jason Mitchell (46-14 at 220, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Josh Murrell (43-9 at 285, district champ, 1 match from states).
2019-20 MVP: It’s not that often that the MVP of a team doesn’t advance the farthest among all of his teammates, but getting to the blood round of a region tournament that would eventually boast two state placewinners (champion and fourth) is a pretty big thing. For a first-year wrestler (or at least first year in the program), that’s even bigger, and that’s what 2020 graduate Josh Murrell brought in the only year I remember him being part of a local wrestling team (to be fair, he could have moved in from outside the area). Murrell had two 13-match win streaks during the regular season, with a part-time appearance at Bishop Snyder, but max-pointed (with four pins) through Friday Knight Lights and placed third (with a 7-1 weekend record) at Keystone. Murrell also max-pointed through Parker Duals and was 3-1 at USMC in a part-time appearance, and picked up a hard-fought medal at Flagler Rotary, placing fifth with a 4-2 weekend record. Murrell won Oakleaf’s only District 1 bracket and powered through to the Region 1 semis behind two pins, but then faced a multiple-time state champ in the semis and lost to a former district rival (as he had earlier in the year) in the blood round, a rival who’d go on to place fourth at states.
2020-21 captain: Rising senior David Parkes has been a stalwart of consistency for the Knights over the last three years. This past year, Parkes made it to the state tournament and won a match there to give Oakleaf its points on the 3A scoreboard. Parkes was 2-1 in a part-time appearance at Bishop Snyder and 4-1 at Friday Knight Lights, with the loss there touching off a 16-match win streak that got him to the semis at Keystone, where he’d go on to place third. He max-pointed through his five matches at USMC Duals and placed fifth at Flagler, with four bonus-point wins (including three pins). Parkes pinned his way through the first two rounds of districts to reach the final. At Region 1, Parkes reached the semis, where he lost to the region champ, and then punched his Kissimmee ticket in the blood round, placing fourth. At Silver Spurs, Parkes’ two losses were to eventual placers (fourth and fifth), and he’s got a good chance to get back and get to that podium in March.
Zander Laurin Warrior: Oakleaf’s season in 2019-20 was the story of a team filled with kids nobody knew, and, in some senses still don’t, but yet the Knights forged their way into the Region 1 dual team tournament and powered into the runnerup spot at District 1. One of those who emerged to begin to make a mark for themselves was rising junior Onjel Caraballo, who started the year looking like one of the kids in the mix in the 170/182 area for the Knights. The thing about the mix, sometimes, is that it’s a pretty comfortable place to be and a wrestler wanting to make a mark wants nothing less than to settle for the mix. We saw a little bit of that making a mark from Caraballo at USMC, where he went 6-1 with six max-point wins while competing at 182 or 195. Later that month, Caraballo became the regular starter at 170 and it took a little getting used to, as he had a combined record of 8-10 at Parker, Flagler and Englewood. But the adjustment got made, and Caraballo reached the District 1 final. At Region 1, Caraballo lost only to two district champs, with three victories of his own in reaching the blood round. With two years of eligibility remaining, states should be in the mix before long. For refusing to stay in the mix, Onjel Caraballo is the Zander Laurin Warrior for Oakleaf.
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