The Season 2016-17: Middleburg

MIDDLEBURG

You can see everything I have on the Broncos in 2016-17 here –>  MIDDLEBURG

Win/loss record: 13-11 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Broncos’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: The 2015-16 season could not have gone better for the Broncos, but with more than a few seniors in that lineup, things were going to be different in 2016-17. With the previous top assistant elevated to the head coaching position this year, Middleburg continued its tradition of using dual meets as training grounds for the post-season. Few teams in the Broncos’ space, as a program, are as willing to take dual losses in exchange for post-season reward. That’s partly why Middleburg can start the season with a 5-8 dual meet record and close out with eight wins in its final 11 (all to area-ranked teams). Partly why the Broncos were able to get 11 wrestlers to regions (they only had 12 starters), with 10 of them adding to the Middleburg team score at Chiles, and partly why Middleburg advanced four wrestlers to states, with a fifth right on the doorstep.

2016-17 MVP: Senior 285 Bailey Barnard missed Middleburg’s first event of the season, but once he joined the team, he made his presence felt immediately, unusual for a first-year starter. Barnard went 2-0 in the first day at Westside Kiwanis, lost only once at Battle on the Border at Yulee, and had just two losses (both against eventual state placers at 220 who bumped up) at 1A Duals. From there, Barnard would only take losses against 3A wrestlers until the Region 1 tournament, winning 11 of 12 matches at one point (all 11 of those wins were by fall). That took Barnard to a District 3 title and into the Region 1 semifinals, and after a tight loss, Barnarded added two more falls to finish third at Chiles. After a first-round loss to the eventual state finalist, Barnard rallied for three wins on the back side of the bracket to clinch a medal, then added a fourth win against a few “experts'” pick to win state in the consi semis to get into the third place match.

2017-18 captain: A 50-50 call last year stalled Bryan Heflin‘s bid to win a District 3 title, but this year Heflin not only battled his way through districts but regions as well, leading the contingent of returning Bronco state qualifiers this November. After a solid 11-2 start a weight up, Heflin dropped to 182 for the 1A Dual Championships in mid-January, with just two losses in that very competitive event (only one at the new weight). From there, Heflin had solid performances, with his best regular-season effort being a fourth at Clay’s Rotary tournament, where he reached the semis. Heflin had an early semifinal setback at districts, but won twice to qualify out as third, then lost to the eventual state finalist in the quarters, but took three at the back to punch his ticket for states. That was his path to a Kissimmee medal as well, as Heflin won three on the back after a first-round loss to reach the state podium.

Heaton’s Hero: I had a couple of different options to go with on this one, but I’m always drawn to the story of a senior that’s struggled for the majority of the season and could easily have thrown in the towel, but found a way to help his team and extend his season for another week with a win at districts. That’s what Joe Manfredi was able to do, after attempting to overcome significant experience disadvantages as a middleweight throughout the year. After losing eight of his previous nine matches, and facing a win-or-go-home situation in the backside of the 152 weight class at districts, Manfredi — who’d only won one matrch that went a full six minutes prior — came through with a decision, which extended his season by another week. Then, at regions, he won a match to contribute to the Broncos’ team score there as well. For his continuing persistence, Joe Manfredi is the Heaton’s Hero for Middleburg.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Tazz Hampton (sophomore, 106, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Logan Kline (junior, 113, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Dalton Falana (sophomore, 120, 1 match from regions); Christopher Burch (junior, 126, district champ, 1 match from states); Bryce Williams (junior, 132, district champ, 1-2 at regions); Dustin Tollison (sophomore, 138, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions); Trenton Carroll (sophomore, 145, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Heflin (senior, district 3rd, region 4th, 6th at states). Also: Austin Benton (senior, 120, did not compete in post-season); Storm Mercado (junior, 132, did not compete in post-season); Robbie Riesenbeck (senior, 160, 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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