The Season 2016-17: North Bay Haven

NORTH BAY HAVEN

You can see everything I have on the Buccaneers in 2016-17 here –>  NORTH BAY HAVEN

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

Season in a nutshell: North Bay Haven will go anywhere to wrestle, as we found out this year, with the Buccaneers traveling to Alabama three times (not a long trip, to be sure), Virginia and across the state to Jacksonville in order to roll up somewhere around 45 dual meets this year (we only got three from Gulf Shores in early February, whereas Gulf Breeze wrestled five, so we have a couple of holes in records). How do you get kids mat time? By getting them mat time. Although team wins were scarce due to there being no wrestlers (with rare exceptions) from 120-145 and again at 220 or 285, most of the regular starters got 40-45 matches during the course of the season, and a couple were at 50+. That’s how to overcome inexperience. The Buccaneers also pulled off their first hosting duty this year, and if the list I saw is any indicator, they have big ambitions for their Bash event in 2018. From a building-interest standpoint, it’s all happening the right way.

2016-17 MVP: First state qualifier in school history. I could stop right there on the reasons why Garrett Hester is the Buccaneers’ most valuable wrestler this year, but (if I guess correctly) you could also throw in first district champion, first 30-match winner (NBH reported 44 wins, but unless they’re counting byes I don’t have the evidence in my results for that). Either way on the wins issues, what is beyond question is the significance Hester’s career has had on the Haven program. Hester has given the Buccaneers someone to build the program around, and I think the increase in numbers this year is a direct result of that. I suspect there’ll be another, similar one next year, now that the state barrier has been breached. Next up, state podium? Very realistic expectation for next year.

2017-18 captain: Sometimes there’s a little bit of sacrifice involved with the idea of leadership. Junior Aidan Campbell started out wrestling 152, then dropped to 145 for Charlie Bruce Duals, and then — as other wrestlers came on board — moved up the ladder before finally settling in at 170. Despite the substantial shifts in weight, Campbell still finished with 20+ wins (officially 24, I have 24 as well but with two missing duals), qualifying out for Region 1 and winning a match there as well. Between Hester and Campbell, there is definitely plenty of senior leadership for the rest of the lineup to take in, as most of the rest of the regular starters will still be in middle school or freshmen next year.

Heaton’s Hero: Although there are elite exceptions, middle-school wrestlers that have regular places on a high school varsity lineup face significant strength and experience disadvantages against kids their own size, and the higher up one goes in terms of weight class, the more dramatic those disadvantages often become. That’s why 8th-grader Hunter Malone is my Heaton’s Hero for North Bay Haven this year, as he got in at least 45 matches during the course of the year (perhaps as many as 48), even without competing in the post-season, wrestling kids that were 160, 170 or even 182 in one instance. I have 19 wins for him, also, so it is very possible he went over the 20 mark.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Landon Ladtkow (freshman, 106, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Campbell (senior, 170, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Hester (senior, 195, district champ, region 4th, 0-2 at states). Also: Lucas Biddle (7th, 106, did not compete in post-season); Joe Callahan (7th, 106, did not compete in post-season); Brad Watson (senior, 132, did not compete in post-season); Malone (freshman, 160, did not compete in post-season); Connor Denison (7th, 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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