Next up this week: Fleming Island.
Season record: 27-3 in duals.
Tournament record: 8th at Westside Kiwanis December 12-13, 8th at Palm Coast Rotary January 9-10, 9th at Green Cove Springs Rotary February 13-14, 2nd at 2A-District 4 meet February 25, 4th at 2A-Region 1 meet March 6-7, T-47th at 2A state meet March 13-14.
Season in a nutshell: There really weren’t any points in the season where the Knights could be said to have struggled. Maybe at Kiwanis, with an 8th-place finish there after a 6-1 dual start, that might have been one of the only times. Or there would be the double-digit loss at home to Middleburg in a battle of ranked teams. But, after that loss, Creekside just about fired on every cylinder it could find. After losing to Harmony at the Terry Parker Army Duals, the Knights won 15 straight duals to close out the season. Creekside had a ton of senior talent leading the way this season, with several highly-ranked individual wrestlers. Three Knights had 40 wins in 2014-15, and it could have been two more were it not for injuries and the result of a late transfer. Creekside was ranked as high as fifth during the course of the season, and there’ll be a lot of returning talent that will make the Knights once again of the area’s top teams again next year.
2014-15 MVP: Austin Wynn took more losses than he would have liked to start the year, but he had faced some pretty tough competition to begin the season at Matanzas. Then, he wound up taking two more tough losses against strong 113s in local Avery Holder of Palm Coast and Konnor McHale of Jensen Beach. The Holder loss put him at 11-4 for the season. Wynn wouldn’t lose again until mid-February, down a weight class, and going up against one of the state’s best 106s in Jacob Conrad of Tampa Prep. That string of wins — 26 in all — included Ws over some of north-central Florida’s best 106s and 113s. Wynn followed that up with two pins to win the District 4 title. He then made his way to a region title, edging out Middleburg’s Dylan Rossetti to take top honors at the Region 1 meet. States didn’t go quite so well, to be sure. But the career Wynn has had, plus the consistency he showed throughout most of the season — leaving the start and finish aside — made him the Knights’ MVP.
Returning starters for 2015-16: Antonio Patterson (sophomore in 15-16, Trackwrestling and I had him at 2-13 at 120), Nickolas Lulias (sophomore in 15-16, Track and I had him at 6-30 at 126), Ty VanSickel (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 34-4, I had him at 34-5 at 132), David Tyer (senior in 15-26, Track had him at 25-16, I had him at 26-16 at 138), Brandon Dickman (sophomore in 15-16, Track and I had him at 45-11 at 152), Steven Stanton (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 17-19, I had him at 17-20 at 160/70), William Lulias (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 29-10, I had him at 30-10 at 182), Corey Grower (junior in 15-16, Track had him at 22-19, I had him at 23-19 at 195), Gus Fischer (senior in 15-16, Track had him at 33-9, I had him at 32-9 at 220), plus Jacob Cooney (sophomore in 15-16, I had him at 4-13 at 120) and Mateo Villa (senior in 15-16, I had him at 4-8 at 170).
2015-16 captain: VanSickel made a splash in the Knights’ wrestling room when he came down from Chatfield, MN (and yes, I DO know that program, having covered prep wrestling in western Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota in the late 80s and early 90s). Once he entered the lineup, he only lost to 3A state placer Zach Larison of Hagerty in his first 28 matches before taking an ID loss when he took sick at Clay Rotary. VanSickel went six minutes at states with the eventual state champion after winning the District 4 title and finishing second to Chiles’ Winslow Robinson at Region 1. We’ll see what he learned from those losses as he begins his junior season. There’s a lot of solid talent on this team — probably three returners, and possibly a fourth — will earn statewide rankings in 2015-16, and VanSickel’s energy will be a big part of how next season plays out for the Knights.
Heaton’s Hero: For a team that won 90 percent of its duals and had solid finishes in almost every IBT tournament in which it competed during the 2014-15 season, it can be an interesting challenge to find a wrestler that had some struggles and yet overcame them by sticking it out through the entire season. But there was one who definitely had some growing pains to overcome as part of a veteran lineup, dropping 13 of his first 14 matches and his final six as well. Still, though, Nickolas Lulias did have four pins during the course of the year, and he’s got a lot of company returning to the Knights’ lineup, so there will be plenty of opportunities for him to improve. He did stick it out from the first weekend of the season to the last, however, and that kind of determination is exactly what I look for. Nickolas Lulias is the Creekside nominee for the Heaton’s Hero award.