The Season 2016-17: Wakulla

WAKULLA

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

Win/loss record: 23-1 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Bulldogs’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: The Tallahassee area’s strongest program survived some serious challenges to that supremacy this year. The War Eagles cruised to 14 straight dual wins, taking dual-tournament titles at Chiles and at Ft Walton Beach’s Beast of the Beach, with very solid top-six showings in the IBT format as well (sixth at Border Wars, fourth at Capital City) to close out that month. January saw Wakulla take its only blemish in duals to start the month, but the War Eagles would rally, winning Lincoln’s Trojan Invitational mid-month and then posting the highest Class 1A team finish at the Flagler Rotary on the final weekend of the month. Wakulla would add a duals title of their own on February 4, but their biggest move was retaining ownership of the District 2 title — even in the face of an “expert’s” pick — and pulling together a runnerup effort at Region 1 and eighth-place showing at states. That’s seven IBT tournaments, all in the top eight, and three dual-tournament wins. Although there will be some big losses from the senior class that moves on, Wakulla will return nine post-season starters, five additional key contributors, and tradition.

2016-17 MVP: Just one 1A school in north Florida had a state champion in its midst, and when the smoke cleared on states, that school was Wakulla, as senior 285 Jacob Marin entered the season as the solid favorite to win in Kissimmee. Early on, it seemed as though the one wrestler most likely to defeat Marin might have been his own teammate, sophomore Darius Wilkins. Marin won by forfeit over Wilkins at Border Wars, then forfeited to Wilkins at Capital City the following weekend. The two War Eagle heavies contested a match at Lincoln, and Marin took his only loss of the season there. There would be close matches, some incredibly close ones (three went into some form of overtime), after that, but Marin was equal to the task in all of them, with just the one loss, a regular-season IBT win at Border Wars, District 2, Region 1 and state titles. Looking forward to seeing Marin wrestle at the #NextLevel.

2017-18 captain: Junior 138 Micah Lanier reached the second day at Border Wars to start his season, with three losses to out-of-state wrestlers, and then would not lose again for another five weeks, rolling up 14 straight victories. After that run of wins was snapped in a mid-January dual meet, Lanier did find some struggles, with a 1-2 showing at Trojan Invitational. He had a better performance at Flagler Rotary, but an early loss meant he had to win four matches to fight his way on to the podium there. Lanier was 5-0 while wrestling a weight up for the War Eagles at the Wakulla Duals, but did struggle some in February. He did finish second at District 2, losing only to an individual state medalist in the final, but then went 2-2, a takedown short of wrestling for a state berth. Midway through the season, though, against some tough competition, Lanier was one of Wakulla’s best, and will provide senior leadership next season.

Heaton’s Hero: Even in a school rich in wrestling tradition, there are some who will need some time in order to make their own mark within that tradition. For freshman 152 Ian Walker didn’t pick up a contested win until Beast of the Beach, but even after that was achieved, finding sustained success was a bit tough to do. Through the Trojan Invitational, Walker was standing at 5-13 with just a month to go in the season, but he did start to turn things around, going 11-7 the rest of the way. That included a four-match win streak at Wakulla Duals. With just four wrestlers in the 1A-District 2 field, Walker was going to get to regions as long as he made weight, but he contributed to his team’s overall point total in that event, and at regions, where he also picked up a first-round win. For that bounceback from a tough start, Ian Walker is the Heaton’s Hero for Wakulla.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Matthew Owen (sophomore, 106, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Rolin Malik (senior, 120, district champ, 1 match from states); Blake Reeves (sophomore, 132, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Lanier (senior, 138, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Noah Wilson (sophomore, 145, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Walker (sophomore, 152, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Trevor Hart (sophomore, 170, district runnerup, region runnerup, 0-2 at states); Andrew Annand (junior, 182, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); John Trevor Hinsey (sophomore, 195, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions). Also: Joseph Grix (senior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Cordle (senior, 170, did not compete in post-season); Eli Yates (senior, 170, did not compete in post-season); Chayton Bussey (senior, 220, did not compete in post-season); Wilkins (junior, 285, did not compete in post-season, NHSCA all-American).

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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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