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.
Today, we’re in the homestretch of a project we started even before the season ended. We’re halfway through the final round of random selections from the 11 districts. Our fourth team this round, the eighth/final team in 3A-District 1 and 83rd team overall, is Mandarin.
You can see everything I have on the Mustangs in 2019-20 here –> MANDARIN
Win/loss record: 21-21 in dual meets reported to Matmen. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Mustangs’ performance in IBT events. All individual records are as compiled by Matmen.
Season in a nutshell: Mandarin began the season at its traditional opener, going to conference rival Terry Parker’s two-day IBT, the Arlington Optimist Invitational, where the Mustanges were third out of 12 teams on December 6-7. From there, Mandarin was in duals mode until the end of January. First up was a midweek quad at Yulee on the 11th, where Mandarin was 2-1 on the night. The Mustangs then returned to Nassau County for Fernandina Beach’s Dual at the Dunes on the 14th, with a 4-1 record on the day and third-place finish. Mandarin made a third trip north for the Yulee Duals on December 20-21, with a 4-4 weekend record there. After the holidays, the Mustangs competed in the Rob Bierbaum Invitational duals event at Episcopal on January 4, taking three losses. The next weekend saw Mandarin go back to Terry Parker for the USMC Duals on the 10th-11th, with a short-handed group collecting a 3-5 weekend record. After a midweek dual loss on the 15th, the Mustangs went back to their their conference rival for the Parker Duals on the 24th and 25th, with a 6-3 weekend record. Next up was a trip out to Fletcher on January 31 and February 1 for the two-day Gateway Conference IBT, where Mandarin was eighth out of 15 teams. After a midweek dual win on the 5th, Mandarin concluded the regular season with its longest trip, going to Chiles for its one-day Timberwolf Duals, placing ninth out of 12 teams with a 1-4 record on the day. The Mustangs were seventh out of eight teams at the 3A-District 1 traditional tournament and placed 28th at Fleming Island in the Region 1 event, out of 30 teams, with no state qualifiers. While the Mustangs had their struggles at times with numbers and performances, Mandarin lost no seniors that played key roles. The Mustangs can call upon their entire post-season lineup and as many as 11 significant returners in 2020-21, plus they had a few see some solid starting roles at various moments last year.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season) for 2020-21 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Devin Foster (sophomore, 29-16 at 113, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Ethan Harvey (senior, 21-23 at 120, 0-2 at districts); Tristan Garcia (junior, 27-23 at 126, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Frank Kershaw (junior, 15-13 at 138, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Xaine Evans (senior, 25-17 at 145, 1 match from regions); John Willis (senior, 11-7 at 160, did not compete in post-season traditionals); Tony Carter (junior, 46-7 at 182, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Royal Felton-Norman (senior, 14-14 at 195, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Jaelen Simmons (sophomore, 17-9 at 195, did not compete in post-season traditionals); De’Shawn Wise-Minor (sophomore, 20-19 at 220, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Nick Wilbur (senior, 33-7 at 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: None.
2019-20 MVP: Rising junior Tony Carter made a solid impact of consistent success in the Mustang lineup, his first season there, in in 2019-20, as the only Mandarin competitor to win a Gateway Conference title and get to the second day of Region 1. Carter also led the Mustangs in wins, with 46 on the year. After an early loss, he took third at Arlington Optimist. That loss began a 14-match win streak that saw Carter go 5-0 at Dual in the Dunes; his only loss at Yulee, where he finished with a 7-1 weekend, was to a Georgia state finalist. Carter then won another 14 matches in a row, with a 7-0 (all bonus-point wins) record at USMC Duals. After taking an early loss at Parker Duals, where he was 8-1 on the weekend, Carter won another 12 in a row, including three wins for the Gateway title at 182, and was 4-1 at Timberwolf Duals, with his only loss to a multiple-time 1A state qualifier. Carter fell to an eventual state qualifier in his first match in the 3A-District 1 tournament, but came back for third. That would be the story at Region 1, where Carter lost his first match, but came back to win twice and get to Saturday. We already know he has offers for Big Ten Conference football, so we’re guessing that will be his future, but in the meantime we’re hoping we’ll see Carter in the winter for at least one more season if not two.
2020-21 captain: Rising senior Nick Wilbur should be in the hunt for Gateway and district finals berths — and perhaps more — after a junior year in which he won his first 14 matches and 30 of his first 32. Wilbur won the Optimist title at 285 and max-pointed through Fernandina Beach, with a 7-1 record at Yulee Duals. After that loss, Wilbur won seven straight before sustaining injury at USMC Duals. Wilbur was 8-0, with a max-point weekend (7 wins by fall) at Parker Duals. He struggled more at Gateway, finishing one match short of placing, but rallied at districts with two pins after taking an opening-match loss. Wilbur lost by fall to an eventual state placer at Region 1. He should be in the mix for at least second-day wrestling at that tournament in February; states is not an unreasonable expectation.
Zander Laurin Warrior: One wrestler that the Mandarin coaches brought forward to me in conversations with them during the season, before we even started considering who would be listed in this space for Mandarin, was rising sophomore Devin Foster and his ability and work ethic in the room. In his first year of wrestling, Foster struggled some in his first tournament, but learned key lessons from it and — even more particularly — Yulee Duals and Bierbaum, where he briefly went back under the .500 mark. But Foster then won 12 of his next 13 matches, losing only to a district champ and state qualifier at USMC Duals; he then was 4-0 in a part-time appearance at Parker Duals. Foster then would place fourth at 113 at Gateway, with his losses to a 1A state placer and a multi-year starter in the medal round. He pinned his way through Timberwolf Duals. While Foster has yet to record a post-season victory, he did get a taste of Region 1 competition, and we will see a lot more of him in the next three seasons. In picking up the lessons he needed to learn from his coaches, Devin Foster is the Zander Laurin Warrior for Mandarin.
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