The Season 2015-16: Baker County

Baker County

You can see everything I have on the Wildcats in 2015-16 here –> BAKER COUNTY

Win/loss record: 13-7 in duals. Please review the attached document for a review of the Wildcats’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Baker County had a drama-free season in 2015-16, and that was probably the best news that the Wildcats needed to take from the season, but there were some other solid moments. Duals, in particular, were Baker County’s best competitive form, and with the numbers that the Wildcats have continued to generate in terms of the program, that comes as little surprise. But it will be key for Baker to upgrade its schedule in 2016-17, as there are a lot of juniors-to-be returning next year that showed some flashes of ability at various times during this past season. To turn those flashes into consistency, and to push to higher levels, tougher in-season competition — with another IBT at minimum — will need to be found.

 

2015-16 MVP: Senior Corey Paine had a little trouble finding his sea legs in December, with two losses at Stingray Duals that had Paine — who was one match short of states in 2014-15 — at 3-2 at one point. From there, though, Paine started to figure some things out, winning 16 of his next 18 matches — 10 of those via fall — to improve to 19-4 at one point during Raines’ 5 Star event. Paine avenged an earlier in-season loss and was a consistent presence for the Wildcats, flirting with the 30-win mark by season’s end. He was Baker’s lone finalist in the District 3 tournament and got to the region semis, but ran into a pair of Northeast local 220s that had been more battle-hardened at elite levels, and the result was that Paine was one match short of state once again. Still, though, he was a sturdy presence in the Wildcats’ upper weights and he’ll be missed next year.

2016-17 captain: Cole Cushman was on a tear to start his sophomore year after qualifying for state as a freshman, winning his first 11 matches and 19 of his first 20. The only issue with that hot start was that he hadn’t gotten a lot of solid competition within what was one of the deepest weight classes in the coverage area. And things got tougher in February, when Cushman — in the middle of an unbelievably-tough district (state finalist, 2015 state qualifier and district champ) — couldn’t maintain the momentum he’d had before, going 4-6 down the stretch. With a stronger in-season schedule, Cushman — and his teammates, as there’s a ton of returnees in his Class of 2018 group — would be far more battle-tested and probably would stand a solid chance at returning to the state tournament.

Heaton’s Hero: On a team that’s had not one but two female starters, it’s hard not to go with one of those, but what senior Shawn “Robbie” Martin did on behalf of the Wildcats was worthy of the nomination. Martin, spent, essentially, half the season at 126 (starting the year there), bumped up to 132 in late January for the Parker Duals and Baker’s February duals prior to the post-season, then bumped up another weight, to 138, when another teammate made his drop. One win was enough to get Martin into the second week of the post-season, and he was able to pick up a win at regions to at least get three matches — wrestling up 12 pounds from where he’d started the year. Not a lot of wrestlers that are seven matches above .500 win this award, but for moving up twice late, Robbie Martin is the Baker County Heaton’s Hero.

Projected returning starters for 2016-17 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Cushman (junior, wrestled 106/113 this past year, District 3 4th place); Jordan Johnson (junior, wrestled 126/132 this past year, District 3 3rd place); Devon Cole (junior, wrestled 132/138 this past year, 1 match from regions); Earl Starling (junior, wrestled 145 this past year, District 3 3rd place); James Burnett (junior, wrestled 160 this past year, 1 match from regions); Blake Dicks (junior, wrestled 170 this past year, District 3 3rd place); Jestin Canterbury (senior, wrestled 285 this past year, 1 match from regions). Also: Carson Padgett (junior, wrestled 113 this past year, did not compete in post-season); Josh Ossmann (sophomore, 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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