The Season 2016-17: Yulee

YULEE

You can see everything I have on the Hornets in 2016-17 here –>  YULEE

Win/loss record: 22-1 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Hornets’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: It wasn’t unusual for Yulee to drop a December dual meet against a solid south Georgia program in Ware County. What was unusual for the Hornets was that it would be the last dual meet they would lose in the 2016-17 season, as Yulee rolled to victory in Deltona’s one-day duals tournament and then again one week later in its own single-day dual event. The Hornets roared to another County victory just before and then won six more in January to take 21 straight dual wins. In IBT/roundrobin formats, Yulee was almost always a competitor, with three top-four finishes and a seventh in the 18-team North Metro IBT, held just outside of Atlanta in mid-January. As expected, Yulee took second in District 3, but then had a solid sixth-place effort at Region 1 and then finished 13th — a very creditable team finish — in the 1A state tournament. It was a pretty solid senior class that helped build this season, and that class will be missed, plus because of incomplete information there may not be more than five or six Hornets with 2017 post-season experience back in November, but Yulee does have some decent depth and should have a solid room once again next year.

2016-17 MVP: Normally the most valuable award is a snapshot award, but sometimes most valuable can mean the most valuable body of work over a career, and senior 120 Dylan Youmans surely had a couple of setbacks along the way, but every Yulee wrestler stopped to watch his matches during the course of this year. Youmans won his first 31 matches to start this year, competing at times at 126 as well, with 17 pins along the way. His first two losses came against out-of-state wrestlers in Atlanta and the North Metro IBT, but Youmans would rally for solid performances at District 3 and at Region 1, where he finished second in both. At states, Youmans reached the second day of the tournament, falling a 50+-match winner (and eventual placewinner) in the first round, losing to a pair of placewinners along the way. However, getting to the final day of the high school season was a fitting finish to Youmans’ solid career for the Hornets.

2017-18 captain: In terms of best individual Hornet season of the year, it’s tough to argue with the season that Stevie Chopek had. Chopek took his first high-school loss early in December, but after that didn’t lose a match for another six weeks — a win streak of 27 matches in all — and didn’t lose to a Florida wrestler until the Region 1 semis at Clay, and that against a four-time region champ. Chopek also had a string of, in 30 straight victories, earning at least a major decision or more in every single one of those. Chopek’s introduction into the Yulee lineup was a significant (not the only, but certainly a significant) reason that the Hornet talent level, and intensity level, improved to a point where the Hornets could hold their own on an area-wide level. Chopek won at District 3, was third at Region 1 and then made his way through the state tournament to reach the finals, losing only to Lake Highland there.

Heaton’s Hero: Sophomore 170 Gunner Harrison had a rough go of it in 2017 after an OK start to the season where, in a part-time role at that point, he was at the .500 mark. But as the season wore on, Harrison found himself in 26 contested matches over the course of it, with all of them — win or lose — ending in a fall (always, after the first matches in early December, in either the first or second period). After the 4-4 start, Harrison had only two more contested victories in the campaign, one in a dual in mid-January and the other coming at districts, where Harrison won by fall in the third-place match. His season would have continued into regions either way, but I do like the fact that Harrison was able to contribute to the Hornets’ team score in the district tournament with a solid win, particularly after losing 10 of his previous 11 matches. For that persistence, Gunner Harrison is the Heaton’s Hero for Yulee.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Kyle Davis (sophomore, 106, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Chopek (sophomore, 113, district champ, region 3rd, state runnerup); Grant Stanish (junior, 138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Tyler Berrier (junior*, 145, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); David Dry (junior*, 152, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Gunner Harrison (junior, 170, district 3rd, 0-2 at regions); Michael Crawford (junior, 182, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); McKenzie Lewis (senior, 285, district 4th, region 4th, 0-2 at states). Also: Bryce Bees (sophomore, 106, did not compete in post-season); Isaiah Bartley (sophomore, 113, did not compete in post-season); Orion Duffy (junior, 126, did not compete in post-season); Barry McKendree (junior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Peyton Horner (junior, 195, did not compete in post-season).
* — names did not appear on Yulee roster prior to 2015-16 season; Berrier and Dry may be seniors or perhaps graduates of Class of ’17).

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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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