The Season 16-17: University Christian

UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN

You can see everything I have on the Christians in 2016-17 here –>  UNIVERSITY CHRISTIAN

Win/loss record: Unknown in dual meets (Christians participated in the Gulf Coast Slam and had team combined with Tallahassee Leon, which actually would be a pretty scary team, talent-wise). Please review the attached document for a summary of the Christians’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Numbers continue to be an issue through the regime changes (three head coaches in the last four years), and while football has a sizable amount to do with that, the program keeps on soldiering on and nurturing some quality talent. This year, eight different kids made appearances in the Christians’ lineup. That number went down to four by the post-season, but all four made it to Clay for the Region 1 tournament and half of that group got to states. Clearly, the work of first-year head coach (at UC anyway) Brian Adkins has proven fruitful. Now, if only more numbers would just come out.

2016-17 MVP: We first learned about Matthew Rodriquez at NHSCA Nationals a year ago, and the momentum he built up there, he carried into the high school season while still an 8th-grader at University Christian. He had just two regular-season losses (one at Capital City, the other at Gulf Coast Slam), and ripped off a pretty sizable streak of wins in between (at least 15 and perhaps as high as 24, as I don’t know when his loss at the Slam took place). Rodriquez had six bonus-point wins in February to close out the regular season and go through districts and regions (I had him with 39 wins, officially listed with 41), with three matches at the state tournament. A great start to what should be a fun career to watch.

2017-18 captain: The unquestioned leader of the Christians’ team on the mat is junior Daniel Porter, who completed his fourth varsity season with another 40+ win season (I had 43, with a 9-1 record at Gulf Coast Slam, which I was able to count back for on him as well as Rodriquez, while he was listed officially with 45). Porter was once again among the area’s best at 113 this year, starting the year at 8-0 and winning another 10 of 11 matches just prior to Gulf Coast Slam. From there, with Clay’s Rotary and the post-season, the competition got tougher. Porter had a tricky road at regions after losing in the quarterfinals to the eventual state finalist, having to win three on the bounce to ensure a third state appearance.

Heaton’s Hero: Of the four Christians wrestlers that competed through the post-season, only freshman John Leone had faced a season with more individual struggles than successes, but he was in the lineup at Capital City — after being part of a football team that won another state championship just in the previous weekend — and also made an appearance at Battle on the Border at Yulee, with a part-time appearance at Army Duals (not sure if he was at Gulf Coast Slam). Leone then moved up a weight to compete in the post-season, with wins at both the district and region levels. Although he had a lot of losses, Leone stayed in the sport from beginning to end, and for that, John Leone is the Heaton’s Hero for University Christian.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Rodriquez (freshman, 106, district champ, 3rd at regions, 1-2 at states); Porter (senior, 113, district champ, 4th at regions, 1-2 at states); Leone (sophomore, 152, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Derrick Stumph (junior, 160, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions). Also: Cameron Wiley (junior, 106, did not compete in post-season); Phillip Wright (junior, 138, 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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