The Season 2016-17: Gulf Breeze

GULF BREEZE

You can see everything I have on the Dolphins in 2016-17 here –>  GULF BREEZE

Win/loss record: 26-3 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Dolphins’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: Gulf Breeze got out to a fantastic start this year under first-year HC Dave Daily, winning its first 12 duals in a largely dual-laden schedule. That might have been partly to do with why the Dolphins did not, after all, participate in Beast of the Beach (which was initially on their schedule and could have been useful for post-season prep). It was not until mid-January before Gulf Breeze took a loss as a team, finishing second to host Pace at Max-Fit Duals. The Dolphins had just one regular-season IBT, which they won, with a team gold at Gator Brawl in the third weekend of January, with a couple of subsequent dual losses to Wetumpka (ALA) and Pace in the finals of the North Bay Haven Bash on the last day of the regular season. After a great regular season, the Dolphins did struggle some at Region 1, finishing in the middle of the pack there, but did get two qualifiers to states. With all the successes, Gulf Breeze does have a lot to point to in 2017-18, with 12 returning post-season starters (almost all with plus-.500 records) and some good talent that was in the varsity lineup early in the year.

2016-17 MVP: I was back-and-forth on this nomination and the next one, with a couple of different possibilities in play, but it ultimately came down to the best post-season resumes, and that meant that freshman 106 Gabe Jacobs was the MVP for the Dolphins this past year. Jacobs won his first nine matches, then took a loss wrestling up a weight against an established 113. After that, Jacobs would only lose to the district’s best 106 prior to the state tournament. While that did happen three more times prior to states (finals at Gator Brawl, District 1 and Region 1, respectively), in between times Jacobs won 11, 17 and three matches in a row. Undaunted 100% by the states experience, Jacobs wound up just one match from a medal in Kissimmee, with a first-round fall, going UTB with a senior and eventual finalist, and losing his two matches by a combined total of three points.

2017-18 captain: Junior 132 Noah Losievsky started the year at 138, with a loss only to an Alabama wrestler, then dropped to 132 and didn’t lose to anyone else until the North Bay Haven Bash on the final weekend of the season. While rolling up 20 straight wins, Losievsky recorded 16 falls, including six in a row and nine of 10 matches during that win streak. He did miss the Gator Brawl, but otherwise was in every event for the Dolphins (with a part-time appearance at North Bay Haven Bash). Losievsky powered his way through District 1, with a pair of decisions for the bracket at Milton, and then reached the Region 1 final at Chiles, finishing just a takedown short of a region championship. He did have a short state-tournament experience, but both matches — against highly-regarded opponents — were close. He’ll be a key leader for the Dolphins in 2017-18.

Heaton’s Hero: It wasn’t long before Gulf Breeze moved up junior Rocky O’Rourke, who would have been a backup at his natural weight of 220, to 285 as a way to help the team. That sort of move can occasionally backfire, but O’Rourke did a solid job of filling the space, struggling against bigger and more experienced 285s but winning the other matches. O’Rourke wrestled all but three of his matches at 285 — taking six pins along the way — so he did find some success at the higher weight despite being able to weigh in and compete at 220 all season. He did go 0-2 at districts, but lost those two matches by just five points. For taking one for the team, Rocky O’Rourke is the Heaton’s Hero for Gulf Breeze.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): G. Jacobs (sophomore, 106, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Aiden Jones (junior, 113, 0-2 at districts); Levi McConnell (sophomore, 120, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Michael Walls (junior, 126, 1 match from regions); Losievsky (senior, 132, district champ, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Calvin Malo (junior, 138, 1 match from regions); Dylan Lawrence (sophomore, 145, 0-2 at districts); Alex Jacobs (senior, 152, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Dawson Daub (senior, 170, 1 match from regions); Tannen Slack (senior, 182, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Jacob Tisdale (senior, 220, district champ, 1 match from states); Rocky O’Rourke (senior, 285, 0-2 at districts). Also: Gabe Trostle (sophomore, 106, did not compete in post-season); Hunter Kimball (sophomore, 113, did not compete in post-season); Nate Golmon (junior, 132, 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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