The Season 2016-17: Niceville


You can see everything I have on the Eagles in 2016-17 here –>  NICEVILLE

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

Season in a nutshell: There are a couple of gaps in the information I have — Niceville went to Camden County’s Callout in the third weekend of January, plus there are two duals missing from the Gulf Coast Slam at Arnold (we were able to work up the Eagles’ other eight, though). Based on that, Niceville had at least 20 dual wins. The buzz up Gulf way, at least the buzz that I have, is that the Eagles are the program to watch out for in the next few years. With 20 wins, three top-10 finishes at larger tournaments (10+ teams) and three returning state qualifiers (including a returning state champ), this is a team to watch out for right now. And they’re adding an in-house off-season wrestling academy that will be starting in May. Throw in 14 kids that saw significant (10+ matches) time last year, a coach that’s committed to excellence and comes from wrestling tradition in North Florida (Laxton — ’nuff said), and a willingness to travel to find tough competition. It will be fun to cover the Eagles going forward.

2016-17 MVP: OK, so we knew that junior Jack Johnson was really good even before he had a sterling appearance this summer with a Jacksonville Disney Duals team and even before this season began. This good, this year? Perhaps not, but Johnson knew, and his coaches knew, and that was enough. Johnson took second at Border Wars and got out to a 9-1 start before losing in the finals of Capital City. After an injury-default loss and loss at Beast of the Beach, Johnson won five in a row, and then 11 in a row, with a runnerup appearance at Trojan Invitational. From the results I have, Johnson didn’t take a loss at Gulf Coast Slam, and reached the finals of Clay’s Rotary in early February. Two weeks later, he won District 1 in dominating fashion, and had three solid matches prior to a narrow loss in the Region 1 final. At states, Johnson beat some terrific competition, particularly in the quarters and semis, and his finals opponent had knocked out the only north Florida wrestler in 2A at 160 that had beaten Johnson this year. No matter, Johnson believed, and his coaches believed and that was enough. Could Jack Johnson be good enough to win two state titles? Tune in and find out…

2017-18 captain: Junior Bailey Howes had an OK start to his season, not a great start by any stretch, but Howes certainly closed the season with a massive flurry of quality. After Capital City, Howes was 4-5 (due to the highly competitive nature of Niceville’s first two events), and after a five-match win streak, was 10-9 at one point during Deep South Bayou Duals. But Howes then won nine of his next 10 matches, taking third at Trojan Inviational. There were a couple of hiccups at Clay that led to an early back-side exit, and a familiar district rival beat him in the finals of District 1, but Howes put all of the pieces together at Chiles for Region 1, winning the tournament, and went on to win his first match at states before running into the eventual champ in the quarters.

Heaton’s Hero: Senior heavyweight Adrian High had his first year as a varsity starter at least since I started the site. Like a few other Niceville kids, the official record (as submitted to the district host) was a bit different than what I have, but High was in the lineup for Border Wars — always a tough go for any inexperienced wrestlers, but particularly so for inexperienced heavies — and although he missed Capital City, he was in for Beast of the Beach, in for Deep South Bayou Duals, in for Lincoln and Arnold and Clay. He won a match at District 1, doing so in extra time. For his persistence in staying in the lineup despite his inexperienced, Adrian High is the Heaton’s Hero for Niceville.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Lee Hamilton (sophomore, 106, 1 match from regions); Zachary Hartzog (senior, 120, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Keean Creager (sophomore, 126, 1 match from regions); Collin Lentz (junior, 132, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Sam Williams (junior, 138, 0-2 at districts); Howes (senior, 145, district runnerup, region champ, 1-2 at states); Jackson Schoener (sophomore, 152, 1 match from regions); Johnson (senior, 160, district champ, region runnerup, state CHAMPION); Darrius Pena (senior, 195, 1 match from regions); Morgan Causey (senior, 220, 1 match from regions). Also: Evan Mickey (senior, 120, did not compete in post-season); Darian Bilog (junior, 126, did not compete in post-season); TJ Hart (sophomore, 138, did not compete in post-season); Brian Son (junior, 170, did not compete in post-season).


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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