The Season 2015-16: Ft Walton Beach

Ft. Walton Beach

You can see everything I have on the Vikings in 2015-16 here –> FT WALTON BEACH

Win/loss record: Unknown. We hit our first snag in not being able to get the FWB dual vs. Pace that served as the third-place match at Beast of the Beach over Christmas break, and then there was the event at Tate, which I’m not sure was a round-robin, or duals, or both. Never heard a thing on that one. So results and records — of necessity — are only updated only so far. I’m pretty confident I will have every FWB result next season.

Season in a nutshell: Ft. Walton Beach struggled from some inability to fill every weight class on a consistent basis, but displayed several younger pieces of the puzzle that showed up and performed solidly at events here and there — the only trouble was seeing sustained success across weight classes at a given event, or sustained success across events from a given wrestler. That is not surprising from an emerging program. FWB performed very well to reach the top four teams at Beast of the Beach — the trick will be to sustain that kind of level next year, but the good thing for the Vikings is that most of their lineup returns in 2016-17; with a lot of off-season work, this will be a team to watch and see if it can challenge for districts and put together a top-eight region finish.

2015-16 MVP: I think the upside of having to compete against so many quality heavyweights on the northeast side of the state is going to benefit two returning Gulfside heavies, one of them being Joseph Pearson, who was FWB’s lone state qualifier this past year. He took a lot of losses against really strong kids — the area over toward my way does have a lot of tough heavies in it — including six state placewinners in Florida, plus some tough out-of-state bigs like Bland, Edwards and Wilson. That’s going to be so very good for Pearson in his senior season. Plus, being the only returner who was in The Show last year will be a valuable thing for his teammates, a few of whom probably made the very long drive to watch their big fella compete and started some dreams of their own. Pearson is my choice for FWB MVP this past season.

2016-17 captain: I was struck by the fact that Brian Haynes was one match from the state tournament, losing to a kid he’d majored earlier in the year at Wakulla, and it made me wonder if the mat time he’d lost by not competing in the Deep South Bayou Duals might have made a difference. More matches are always better. He beat an eventual state placer at the region tournament, getting to the semis, and he’s the other one of the Vikings’ returning district champions for 2016-17. I think knowing how close he was as a junior will motivate him next season, and that should make some good on-the-mat leadership from Haynes, my captain’s pick for next year.

Heaton’s Hero: As I was prepping the stats for the FWB kids (just an FYI — none of the teams, Northeast or Northwest, have anything fully ready to roll, I will have to auto-generate an entire season’s stats for 70+ teams myself), I was pretty sure this was going to go in another direction. But then Nick Woodward made his second drop of the season, cutting to 182 at least for February if not for the Tate event. He wrestled 33 matches weighing up two weight classes. Where he was in the lineup, that ‘s 38 pounds, which for a lighter weight wrestler might be five weight classes up. Woodward didn’t get out of districts, but he impressed me with that second cut, falling 1 match short of a second post-season week. For that, Nick Woodward is the FWB representative for the Heaton’s Hero award.

Returning starters for 2016-17 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Colwyn Mason (junior, wrestled 106 this past year, 1 match from regions); Carter Lurk (senior, wrestled 120 and some 126 this past year, 1 match from regions); William Bigger (junior, wrestled 132 this past year, 0-2 at districts); Connor Cleveland (junior, wrestled 138 this past year, District 1 4th place); Chase Cleveland (senior, wrestled 152 this past year, District 1 runnerup); Joey Royce (senior, wrestled 160 this past year, District 1 4th place); Woodward (junior, wrestled 182/195/220 this past year, 1 match from regions); Haynes (senior, wrestled 195 this past year, District 1 champ, 1 match from 2A state); Pearson (senior, wrestled 285 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 4th place, 0-2 at 2A state). Also: Simon Spicknall (sophomore, wrestled 113/120 in early appearances, did not compete in post-season); Chrisjen Wheeler (sophomore, wrestled 126 in early appearances, did not compete in post-season); Owen Brooks (junior, wrestled 145 to close out the year, 0-2 at districts); Matthew Day (senior, wrestled most of the year at 145, did not compete in post-season); Gabriel Hamilton (senior, wrestled 170 to close out the year, 0-2 at districts); Bryce Carter (junior, wrestled 160/170 most of the year, did not compete in post-season); Jeremiah Gudinez (junior, wrestled 170 in two different appearances, did not compete in post-season); Brendon Carter (junior, wrestled 170/182 for most of the season, did not compete in post-season); Brandon Olivieri (junior, wrestled 182/195 for most of the year, did not compete in post-season).

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I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in 2011. But as I thought I had in 1992, I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. New initiative this year is to create a space on my sites where ALL Florida results can be stored, searched, reviewed and used by my readers, with NO COST TO THEM.

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