The Season 2015-16: Fleming Island

Fleming Island

You can see everything I have on the Golden Eagles in 2015-16 here –> FLEMING ISLAND

Win/loss record: 23-1 in duals. Please review the attached document for a review of the Golden Eagles’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Four years’ worth of toil, for the Golden Eagle seniors, came together in a nearly-perfect season that was injury-free (at least far less so than usual). Fleming made its case plain throughout December, pushing past its key rivals for the top of the heap in Northeast Florida in successive weekends and getting virtually all of its ducks in a row for the stretch run. There were some close calls (Uncivil War 2016, for one, and districts, for another), and there was a runnerup finish at Clay Rotary, but the Golden Eagles were able to take both district and region titles, finishing no lower than sixth in any IBT. There were no champions or finalists, even, at states, but that could easily change in 2016-17, with a few Fleming kids making their cases this year. Three very capable seniors are moving on, but a lot of equally-capable kids remain — and I expect will fill in the missing pieces.

2015-16 MVP: Like their 3A rivals Flagler, there are several Golden Eagles that could be placed into this space and probably should be placed here, but I can only pick one. I went a couple of different ways on this through the last couple of days, and it seems clear that the portion of the season where John Martorano wasn’t in the lineup for Fleming (Flagler Rotary, though his absence didn’t hurt the team finish in that event; the Arnold dual; and Clay Rotary) was a time of year when the Eagles had some hiccups — obviously not fatal ones — but those hiccups showed the value Martorano’s presence had for the lineup. Even when he returned, nowhere near full health, his value was as a symbol, to rally his teammates. He was basically wrestling on one leg through the post-season. Martorano didn’t have the highest finish at regions or states that some of his friends were able to accomplish, but most valuable? Most definitely, in my mind.

2016-17 captain: Again, there are several viable choices here — two in particular stand out to me — and the tiebreaker there goes to the older wrestler. Jason Davis returned to Fleming for his junior season after a year away at Oakleaf, and picked up right where he left off after a third-place finish at 2A states for Oakleaf in 2014-15, winning his first 23 matches with titles at Westside Kiwanis and Lyman. Only South Dade’s Chei Hill was able to overcome Davis in 2015-16, first in the Knockout Christmas tournament at Osceola in the finals and then again at states in the semis. Otherwise, Davis had 51 wins — 28 of those via fall — with Flagler Rotary, Clay Rotary, district and region titles. Davis has tremendous energy on the mat, tremendous teammate power off the mat, and is poised for a top-of-podium spot in 2016-17. As good as he’s been, though, his leadership might be his strongest trait.

Heaton’s Hero: Just about every wrestler in the Fleming Island lineup had massive amounts of success in 2015-16. It’s a tall order for a wrestler to come into that lineup and achieve at the level of a 40-match winner as a freshman. While one was able to achieve at that level, another — by comparison to his teammates — did have some struggles and wasn’t in the lineup for a good chunk of the year. But freshman Ian Kincaid started the season in the lineup and finished the season in the lineup, getting out to a 4-1 start and almost medaling at Westside Kiwanis. But Kincaid didn’t wrestle at St Johns River Conference or either of the Rotary IBTs, and was 0-2 at districts. He’ll get more experience and — in that room — skill. This year, though, his ability to come back after missing most of January earned Kincaid the Heaton’s Hero nomination for Fleming Island.

Projected returning starters for 2016-17 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Albie Snedaker (junior, wrestled 106 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 4th place, 1 match from state medal); Deandre Demus (sophomore, wrestled 113 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 4th place); Jacob Sandoval (junior, wrestled 120 this past year, District 1 runnerup, Region 1 4th place); Paul Detwiler (junior, wrestled 138 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 3rd place, 1 match from state medal); Ian Kincaid (sophomore, wrestled 145 this past year, 0-2 at districts); Gabe Lear (junior, wrestled 160 this past year, 1 match from regions); Ryan Smenda (junior, wrestled 182 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 champ, 3A state 3rd place); Jason Davis (senior, wrestled 195 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 champ, 3A state 3rd place); Jose Concepcion (junior, wrestled 220 this past year, District 1 champ, Region 1 runnerup); Brandyne Mackey (senior, wrestled 285 this past year, District 1 runnerup). Also: Jalyn Robinson (junior, wrestled 195 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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