The Season 2016-17: Suwannee

SUWANNEE

You can see everything I have on the Bulldogs in 2016-17 here –>  SUWANNEE

Win/loss record: 13-6 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Bulldogs’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Suwannee isn’t a team that settles for good enough. The tradition and heritage of the program doesn’t allow for it. So it came as little surprise around Bulldog circles that they dominated Gainesville’s duals event, won Columbia’s (with five double-digit wins, including one over Valdosta), and top-five finishes at Capital City and Battle on the Border. The Bulldogs were seventh at a very solid Chase Life IBT down in Naples, but faltered some at both the Flagler Rotary and Clay’s Rotary events. Suwannee had its fourth coach in as many seasons, and while there was success each year, this year might be the year that there is carryover into next season. That will be good for the program, which looks to be pretty solid in the lowers and middles, but doesn’t have a returner coming back that wrestled above 138/145 in 2016-17.

2016-17 MVP: Senior Tanner Clark had an impressive December and early January, rolling out to a 19-0 start that included 11 pins and eight of those in a row. Clark was 5-2 at the 1A Duals and placed at Chase Life, but injury kept him out of the lineup at both Flagler Rotary and Green Cove Springs Rotary (perhaps coincidentally and perhaps not, those two tournaments were the two in which the Bulldogs sustained their two lowest team finishes). Clark rolled through the District 2 field and had three falls at Region 1, but also took a loss by fall in the quarters against another MVP, having to battle back for states with three wins on the bounce on the back side. Another MVP took down Clark in the third-place match and also knocked him out of the state tournament, but Clark finished the season with 34 wins (by the results I have).

2017-18 captain: Carrying on the Clark theme, junior Chase Clark has an intensity about him that should serve his team well as he enters into his senior season. Clark was 4-1 at Gainesville, placed at Capital City (sixth, in a strong weight class) and was 4-1 at Columbia. Only the eventual state champ and a Lake Highland placer beat Clark at Clay’s 1A Dual Championships. Clark also took third at Clay’s Rotary tournament and had the top seed at districts at 120, finishing second there and getting within a match of the state tournament. Clark (33 wins on the season, according to my results) is a factor in every tournament in which he participates, and that will be key for next year’s team, in which he’ll be one of the leaders.

Heaton’s Hero: Senior Bernardo Perez was really the only Suwannee starter that had significant struggles (I had him with far fewer victories than what was officially reported), but Perez was often tasked with wrestling 285 during the course of the season, and was the Bulldogs’ only big wrestling above 182. Perez did have eight contested victories — with just one forfeit win after the first weekend of the season — and stayed in the lineup for every event on the Suwannee calendar. For that persistence, Bernardo Perez is the Heaton’s Hero for Suwannee.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Tyler Ogles (junior, 113, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Chase Clark (senior, 120, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Terrell Williams (junior, 138, district 3rd, 1 match from states). Also: Jaxon Sansouci (sophomore, 106, did not compete in post-season); Caleb Key (senior, 126, did not compete in post-season); Julian Borrell (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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