The Season 2016-17: First Coast

FIRST COAST

You can see everything I have on the Buccaneers in 2016-17 here –>  FIRST COAST

Win/loss record: 15-14 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Buccaneers’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Other than the bookends of the lineup, First Coast sent out a lineup mostly chock-full of first-year starters in the second year of coach Brian Kaminski’s tenure, and the results were predictably up-and-down. It seemed, however, that things were starting to turn around by the season’s end — at least from a beginning-program standpoint — until districts reminded the Buccaneers of how much work still needs to be done, as no First Coast wrestlers made it out to regions. More of them wrestling off-season would be a great next step. But simply keeping them in wrestling (just one graduating senior in the regular rotation) would allow them to develop and improve as well.

2016-17 MVP: I hadn’t heard about Valois Ochoa prior to this year, but he made my rankings job (when there was such a thing as me having time to do rankings) pretty difficult at 182 this year, with some pretty substantial early results. Ochoa won 22 matches in a row at one point for the Buccaneers, a streak worthy of some recent First Coast alumni like Erik Sirmans, Jahlan Walker and Scott Dollison (when he was there). Ochoa did stumble after losing in the finals of Gateway, going 4-6 after reaching that point, and didn’t get a great draw at districts, with the eventual state champion in his very first post-season match. He’s young, he attracted more than a little bit of off-season teams’ interest, and had a breakout year.

2017-18 captain: With just three returning starters this year, and only one graduating, the captain pick doesn’t go in too many directions, and the obvious choice to me is to go with First Coast’s most technically-proficient wrestler in sophomore Jason Schwartz. Schwartz took some tough early losses to either prior-year or current-year state qualiifers, but at one point won 17 of 18 matches between earlyish January and the regular-season finale in earlyish February. Schwartz did move up one spot in the Gateway Conference pecking order (third as a freshman, second this year) and I think he’s got a good shot at being a two-timer.

Heaton’s Hero: First Coast’s middle of the lineup was the most unsettled part of the group this season — as it was a year ago as well — with sophomore Austin Mims starting the year wrestling two weights up from where he began. Moving down two weight classes isn’t a massive challenge for bookends, but dropping down from 170, where Mims was at a couple of tournaments this year, to 152 is a sizable cut, particularly for an inexperienced wrestler. Mims did have contested wins through the first few weeks of the year, but his last contested win was at Gateway. If he sticks with it, he should have a better junior year. Austin Mims is the First Coast Heaton’s Hero.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Schwartz (junior, 113, 1 match from regions); Seanjohn Adams (junior, 120, 1-2 at districts); Quentin Jones (senior, 132, 1 match from regions); Wendell Bussey (senior, 138, 0-2 at districts); Brian Austin (senior, 145, 0-2 at districts); Mims (junior, 152, 0-2 at districts); Devante Wyatt (sophomore, 160, 1 match from regions); Ochoa (junior, 182, 0-2 at districts). Also: Gerard Taylor (senior, 120, did not compete in post-season); Elijah Wilcox (senior, 170, 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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