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 begun our sixth round of random selections from the 11 districts. Our second team up this round and the sixth from 1A-District 2, the 59th team overall, is Wakulla.
You can see everything I have on the War Eagles in 2019-20 here –> WAKULLA
Win/loss record: 24-1 in dual meets reported to Matmen. Please review the attached document for a summary of the War Eagles’ performance in IBT events. All individual records are as compiled by Matmen.
Season in a nutshell: Wakulla began the season with its traditional appearance at region rival South Walton’s two-day Border Wars on December 6-7, placing second out of 20 teams. The War Eagles stayed in IBT mode for the second weekend, with a shorter hop to Chiles for the Capital City Classic, taking second out of 28 teams on December 13-14. They had their dual season intro at Ft Walton Beach’s Beast of the Beach tournament on the 20th and 21st, as Wakulla finished 9-0 and won the tournament. After the holidays, the War Eagles made a substantial trip down I-75 to Bradenton for Manatee’s two-day Kelly Duals, which they won with an 8-0 weekend record. Wakulla next won its third consecutive 1A-District 2 dual team tournament on the 9th, and advanced to the Region 1 final for the third time with two preliminary-round victories on the 16th. Before that, though, the War Eagles took first at the 22-team Gator Brawl, hosted by region rival Wewahitchka, on the 17th-18th. That served as a tuneup for state duals weekend, with Wakulla repeating as Region 1 champs on the Friday and reaching the state-championship round on Saturday evening, placing second only to the Southeast’s strongest team. The War Eagles then hosted their own two-day IBT on January 31 and February 1, winning the 20-team tournament. The following weekend saw Wakulla travel to Clay’s two-day Rotary IBT on the 7th and 8th, placing fourth out of 33 teams. After a midweek dual win on the 13th, Wakulla then placed T-84th out of 117 teams at the annual Florida girls’ state meet at Dr Phillips in Orlando on the 14th and 15th. The War Eagles repeated as District 2 traditional champs, and then added the Region 1 traditional title as well, sending 10 wrestlers to states. Wakulla then placed fifth out of 66 teams in the 1A state meet at Silver Spurs Arena, with five state medalists. Wakulla graduated a sizable senior group, with seven seniors (including five district champs, five state competitors, and three Kissimmee podium finishers) moving on, but the War Eagles can call upon as many as 17 post-season starters/key regular-season performers, plus Wakulla had a couple of others that saw some time, but fell short of our 15-match threshold.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season) for 2020-21 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Julian Harvey (junior, 36-11 at 106, district champ, 1 match from states); Conner Brown (sophomore, 12-7 at 106, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Wyatt Welch (sophomore, 10-18 at 106/113, did not compete in post-season traditionals); George Hernandez (senior, 53-12 at 113, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states); Juan Jimenez (junior, 12-17 at 113/120, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Raymond Hatchman (senior, 51-17 at 120, district champ, region runnerup, state 4th); Jae T Thaxton (sophomore, 23-22 at 126, district 3rd, 1 match from states); Bradley Martin (sophomore, 8-8 at 126, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Jackson Merrick (senior, 34-22 at 138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Cole Baggett (senior, 57-12 at 160, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Jayvon Brown (junior, 43-13 at 170, district champ, region 3rd, state 6th); Aiden Fetterhoff (junior, 4-13 at 170, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Jackson Osteen (senior, 42-11 at 182, district runnerup, region champ, 0-2 at states); Daniel Brattain (junior, 6-9 at 182, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Hayden Reeves (junior, 29-14 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Tyler Edenfield (junior, 25-16 at 182/195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Jayven Hearns (senior, 43-16 at 285, district 3rd, region 4th, 1-2 at states).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Matthew Owen (54-7 at 132, district champ, region champ, 1 match from state medal); Noah Wilson (55-6 at 145, district champ, region champ, state 4th); Jaden Arrizola (5-11 at 145, 2-2 at girls’ state); Chase Roberts (46-9 at 152, district champ, region runnerup, state 6th); Dylan Harvey (16-11 at 160, did not compete in post-season traditionals); John Trevor Hinsey (54-6 at 195, district champ, region champ, state 5th); Slade Watkins (49-7 at 220, district champ, 1-2 at regions).
2019-20 MVP: Picking this wrestler, and the next one, was a very difficult process. It held publication up for a full day (as did losing the data entry for three tournaments on Thursday night). There were four 2020 graduates who had sufficient resume for this position. All had cases that made the final choice unique. In the end, the margin between any of these four was so razor-thin that I looked at regular-season losses that they took, and when, and to whom. All of them were highly successful (they combined for a record of 209-28), with 20 tournament titles. In the end, two characteristics finally allowed the barest of separations. One, were they the best in north Florida at their respective weight class? Two, did they win their tournaments? Two inched forward slightly based upon the first, and the second ran the table in every IBT and roundrobin prior to the state tournament. That was John Trevor Hinsey, who won five regular-season tournaments and took both District 2 and Region 1 titles, placing fifth at states at 195. Hinsey had one loss (by injury-default to a Georgia state placer) in December, took two losses in January (one to a multiple-time placer, the other to an eventual state champ, both at state duals), and three in February (one to a fellow Matmen MVP after two earlier wins, the other two to the state runnerup and 3rd in his weight class).
2020-21 captain: We looked at four potential returners as well in determining what is ultimately only our choice for captain; it might not have been the coaching staff’s choice, but even if I were to go another way from the coaches, I have a lot of confidence that all four have the resume and the wrestling room to have exceptional seasons once again. But two variables separated the four by, again, the slightest of edges. Could the wrestler overcome earlier losses against a rival at their weight class, first? That pushed two of the four to a very slight advantage, and the second variable was performance on the biggest stage. Rising senior Raymond Hatchman accomplished both at Silver Spurs in the traditional state tournament. Before that, though, Hatchman placed at Capital City (5th) and Gator Brawl (3rd) before winning at Wakulla and max-pointing through districts. He pinned his way into the Region 1 final, where he went six minutes with a two-time (eventually 3x) state placer in the final. At states, Hatchman lost to the eventual champion in the quarters. In the consis, Hatchman won a rubber match against a district rival, then, in the blood round, pinned a region rival that he’d lost to twice earlier in the year.
Zander Laurin Warrior: As tough as it was to decide the MVP — and it was probably the hardest MVP choice I’ve had since Fleming Island in the 2017-18 season, when we had to pick from three state champions — it would have been even harder had 2020 graduate Slade Watkins been able to complete the season at full health. Watkins had every inch the resume of many of his senior teammates this past year, with titles at Border Wars, Gator Brawl and Wakulla as well as districts, with a win streak that was 24 matches long, starting at Beast of the Beach and extending all the way to the first day of state duals. He took an injury at Clay, and rallied from that to pin his way through districts, but then sustained a second injury in the first day at Region 1, and was unable to compete into the second day. All is reasonably well now, as he’s signed to wrestle at the #NextLevel, but it was unfortunate he couldn’t take his shot at states this year. Even though he couldn’t compete second day of Region 1, he was still there, working the tournament. For being an integral part of the program and the success the War Eagles have enjoyed, particularly over the last two seasons, Slade Watkins is the Zander Laurin Warrior for Wakulla.
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