The Season 2015-16: Orange Park

Orange Park

You can see everything I have on the Raiders in 2015-16 here –> ORANGE PARK

Win/loss record: 20-11 for duals. Please review the attached document for a review of the Raiders’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Duals were a bit of a zig-zag proposition for the Raiders. Fully loaded, Orange Park could hang in there against some of the Matmen area’s stronger teams — their epic one-point duals with Middleburg just one example — but the Raiders were seriously short-handed at Flagler, with predictable results; they finished 2-7 at that event. Otherwise, Orange Park was 18-4 and would have been a threat for the top five among area teams all season long. The Raiders showed solidly at IBTs, although not having a couple of weights covered hampered their chances at defending District 3; still, despite that, the Raiders were just a handful of points away from a Region 1 title. The good thing for them is that they have a slew of returners coming back, losing just two key starters to graduation.

2015-16 MVP: A dream deferred sometimes makes for the best story at the end of a high school career, but Marcus Reid might have preferred not to wait to accomplish that dream. It was not an easy season for Reid; first, he had to wait all the way until St Johns River Conference duals just to get in the lineup. From there, it looked like all systems go, with just one regular-season loss to eventual 1A state placer Devin Kohn of Bishop Moore in the 120 finals at Clay. Reid won districts two weeks later, but then sustained a loss by fall to Niceville’s Zach Hartzog in the Region 1 quarterfinals, having to win three matches to secure his place at state, and a fourth for third place. Reid then drew the state’s top-ranked wrestler in the first round at Kissimmee, took care of business there, but then lost in the quarters to the third-ranked wrestler at 120 — whom he later beat for third place. That might have all been fine, except for watching a wrestler Reid had pinned in the Lincoln IBT finals, fellow Matmen local Chace Curtis of Columbia, win gold at states. It doesn’t take a “Wrestling Guy” to know how much Reid will want that title next year.

2016-17 captain: If it’s hard to overstate how close Reid was to a state title, it’s almost impossible to overstate how close Nartorian Lee is to a podium finish in 2016-17. Lee was the Raiders’ most consistent presence of excellence in the lineup. Lee did take a loss at Kiwanis, but later avenged it in the same tournament, and didn’t lose again to a non-state qualifier in 2015-16. At one point, Lee ripped off 25 straight wins from Flagler Duals through the Lincoln IBT, but only picked up an IBT victory at districts. He continued on a solid post-season run, reaching the Region 1 finals, where he was a scoring move away from forcing overtime against an eventual state finalist, Northwest Matmen’s Jaycie Rudd of Lincoln. Lee then got into Saturday’s competition at states, going 2-2 there and finishing just one match short of the podium. He’s not resting, either, staying busy this off-season. That should help next year.

Heaton’s Hero: We didn’t see Deon Williams in the Raider lineup until the Flagler Duals just before Christmas, and there were only a couple of appearances for him in the lineup prior to the post-season. It was a tough year for Williams, who only had his hand raised in two forfeit-victory situations, and both of those were at Flagler. We didn’t see Williams again in the lineup until the January 20th road dual at Middleburg and then it was another few weeks until the season-ending duals. Williams didn’t see IBT time until the post-season, but stayed in the lineup, battled into the second period against an eventual state placer in his first tournament match, and is working to get better this off-season (I just saw him on Saturday). For sticking with the sport, Deon Williams is the Heaton’s Hero for Orange Park.

Projected returning starters for 2016-17 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Dean Ganci (sophomore, wrestled 106 this past year, District 3 runnerup); Frank Sawyer (junior, wrestled 113 this past year, District 3 runnerup, 1 match from 2A states); Reid (senior, wrestled 120 this past year, District 3 champ, Region 1 3rd place); Saeid Ejmali (junior, wrestled 132 this past year, District 3 champ, Region 1 champ); Dashner St. Vilus (senior, wrestled 138 this past year, District 3 3rd place); Lee (senior, wrestled 160 this past year, District 3 champ, Region 1 runnerup, 1 match from 2A state medal); Reed Danielson (junior, wrestled 170 this past year, District 3 4th place); Ben Elliot (sophomore, wrestled 195 this past year, District 3 3rd place); Williams (senior, wrestled 285 this past year, District 3 4th place). Also: Robert McGlynn (sophomore, wrestled 106 this past year, did not compete in post-season); Joseph Moss (junior, wrestled 126 this past year, did not compete in post-season); Zach McWhite (junior, wrestled 152 this past year, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Dehart (senior, wrestled 220 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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