The Season 2016-17: Leon

LEON

You can see everything I have on the Lions in 2016-17 here –>  LEON

Win/loss record: Unknown in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Lions’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: We had a much better handle on what Leon was doing this year — until the Gulf Coast Slam, where the Lions were combined with University Christian (actually, not a bad team you can concoct there). Although Leon struggled in duals prior to the Slam, the Lions were 4-1 after it. Numbers prevented Leon from strong in-season team performances in IBTs, but as the stakes got bigger — and emphasis on star power increased — the Lions rocketed up the charts, finishing in the top 15 teams at state once again this year. However, the two wrestlers supporting that state finish won’t be back for 2017-18 (one due to graduation, one told me directly at states). So next season will involve some rebuilding.

2016-17 MVP: Jonathan Grant got to the top of the state rankings this past year, after taking some early losses at Seminole Wrestling Classic and Capital City, but after a 7-3 start, Grant reeled off 30 in a row in a streak that took him from a slower start than a returning state placer would want to have all the way to the finals, where he got caught up in a Brandon rush to ensure top team honors. His season really turned around after a 4-3 win over Chiles’ Gavin Hoard in mid-January, and after that he was back to his dominant self. He’ll be missed next year.

2017-18 captain: After a slowish start to this season (8-8 at one point), I like the way that Jaquenez Madison rallied during the stretch run, going 13-1 in one segment and 17-5 in the second half of the season. How Madison and the other key returners next year respond to a room without Grant and Segura returning is going to be very telling how the Lions’ season will go, as the room will be theirs to shape now. Madison will need a stronger post-season run in 2017-18, but he’s shown the potential to have it, and might be in line for a state appearance next year.

Heaton’s Hero: I always have softer spots for freshman heavyweights, because they’re usually at a disadvantage in terms of strength and experience compared to older competitors. So I would have leaned toward Hudson Holland anyway, but after a pretty tough start to the season, in which he went 1-9, Holland rallied to finish the second half of the year at .500, and has Leon’s only returning win at the Region 1 tournament for next season. For all of those factors, the Heaton’s Hero for Leon is freshman Hudson Holland.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Madison Melton (sophomore, 132, 0-2 at districts); Chris Crago (senior, 138, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Ethan Eudy (sophomore, 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Madison (junior, 152, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Mason Judd (senior, 170, 0-2 at districts); Holland (sophomore, 285, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions). Also: Payton Smith (junior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Tony Davis (junior, 160, 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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