The Season 2015-16: Choctawhatchee

Choctawhatchee

You can see everything I have on the Indians in 2015-16 here –> CHOCTAWHATCHEE

Win/loss record: Unknown, at least as of this writing. Based on the records submitted to the FHSAA, I would say there is a fairly sizable event — besides the Panhandle championship — that I am missing for Choctaw, which does not appear on Trackwrestling. Please review the attachment for a rundown on the Indians’ performance in IBT events (at least, the ones that I have).

Season in a nutshell: Choctaw got out to a slow start, dropping their first five duals of the season — including one of the earliest duals on the Matmen schedule, and four of the first five duals at Beast on the Beach over the holiday break. But, from there, the Indians ripped off six wins in a row to take the “Best of the Rest” title at Beast, and then won their next five duals strung out over the next few weeks. It took some time for Choctaw to find its sea legs in IBTs as well, finishing deep in the bottom half at Capital City, but then taking fourths at both Gulf Breeze between Christmas and New Year’s and then again at the Trojan Invitational. The post-season was a tough one, as some of the solid depth the Indians had shown during the regular season couldn’t be brought to bear in February, but there are several solid kids returning for 2016-17.

2015-16 MVP: Indian senior Nelson Elder lost his first match of the season early on, at Border Wars, to Tampa Jesuit’s Matthew Daner, and Elder wound up with a 4-4 start to the year (the reference to Singletary, in the results, has the wrong school — should be Somerset and not Pace — but I digress). From the slow start, Elder then won 22 of his next 24 matches (that I have at least), with an unbeaten tournament at Beast of the Beach, an IBT runnerup showing at Gulf Breeze, with losses only to the eventual 2A state champ and an out-of-state wrestler. Elder won one of Choctaw’s two district titles, and overcame a region-quarterfinal loss with three victories to get out to state. At Kissimmee, Elder — representing the Choctaw program solo — won his first two matches, includimg a revenge victory over Daner in the first round, to clinch a state medal. Pretty solid way to wrap up a career.

2016-17 captain: Looking at the roster of wrestlers that Sam Mason faced off against in 2015-16, it’s little surprise that the successes that he was able to accompl;ish had to come later in the season, because he saw some very strong 195s when he was up at that weight and also a few when he dropped to 182 — including two state champions, a handful of placer-level wrestlers and several state qualifiers. At one point, Mason was three matches under .500 (7-10), but then won nine of his 10, and from that point forward he was much more solid, avenging an earlier loss at regions and winning the second of Choctaw’s two district titles. After reaching the 2A-R1 semis at 182, Mason lost to an eventual state placer and then had a wild consi-semi match before falling. As close as he was, and with the competition he faced, Mason knows what it will take to succeed in 2016-17, and that will be vital for the Indians as a group.

Heaton’s Hero: I love the season I saw from David Sherman (as I can’t speak to every performance that he had, I’m just going off what I have) this year. Sherman started the year at Border Wars at 138. After some struggle at Border Wars, he bumped up to 145. Fair enough. Happens a lot. He made two appearances at 145, and then went back to 138 for the Gulf Breeze Invitational — dropping weight over the holiday break, I should add — and was there for a while. Then, at the Lincoln Invitational, Sherman competed at 152 while other teammates dropped down. Stayed in the lineup, gave up a bit of size. We’ve seen this play out often. That’s why I was particularly impressed to see, in a February dual, Sherman appear at 170 pounds (obviously, he re-certified as a 152) for the dual against FWB late in the year before Panhandle. So a kid starting the year at 138 had to wrestled four weights up during the course of the season. Wow. David Sherman is the Choctaw representative for the Heaton’s Hero award.

Returning starters for 2016-17 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Jerson Cabiao (sophomore, wrestled 106 this past year, District 1 runnerup); Aaron Ojeda (senior, wrestled 113 this past year, District 1 4th place); Logan Myer (sophomore, wrestled 126 this past year, 1 match from regions); Hunter Pelfrey (freshman, wrestled 132/138 this past year, 0-2 at districts); Nathan Gunn (junior, wrestled 145/152 this past year, 0-2 at districts); Isaac Smith (senior, wrestled 160 this past year, 1 match from regions); Hunter Merrell (senior, wrestled 195 this past year, 0-2 at districts); David Zapata (senior, wrestled 285 this past year, District 1 4th place). Also: Jacky Grissom (junior, wrestled 113 this past year, did not compete in post-season); Dentin Bottino (sophomore, wrestled 145/152 this past 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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