Welcome back to our annual series of season wrap-up posts, which we cleverly titled as “The Season (2017-18).” Your donation dollars at work, folks.
This year, we’re not following a rotation scheme. We’re keeping it a bit more random this go-round. Using a highly scientific line of inquiry (our own Lady Matmen is making the random selections the rest of the way), our next installment in the series is Ponte Vedra, the fourth of seven teams in 2A-District 4.
Each The Season post will have the same content as they’ve had for the past four seasons. At the request of a reader last season, we will note the accomplishments of each team’s senior class that will be moving on to new goals in May or June.
You can see everything I have on the Sharks in 2017-18 here –> PONTE VEDRA
Win/loss record: 11-7 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Sharks’ performance in IBT events.
Season in a nutshell: Ponte Vedra kicked off the season with a November dual loss on the road at Bishop Kenny, but the Sharks used the experience to get a solid leg up at Terry Parker’s Arlington Optimist Invitational, finishing second in that 10-team event on the first Saturday of December. The Sharks had one other December event on the calendar, going 2-3 at Fletcher’s Preudhomme Duals on December 9. After the holiday break, Ponte Vedra took sixth at Episcopal’s Rob Bierbaum Invitational on January 6, then engaged in its first two-day event of the season, with a 6-2 effort at Terry Parker’s Army Duals on the 12th and 13th. After a pair of dual wins over Episcopal and St. Augustine, the Sharks finished ninth at Yulee’s Battle on the Border on the final weekend of the month, closing out January with a tight loss to Bolles. Ponte Vedra took some lumps at Clay’s Rotary tournament and to Nease in the regular-season finale on February 7. The Sharks were sixth at 2A-District 4 and finished 26th at the Region 1 tournament, with no state qualifiers. The Sharks will return most of their team in 2018-19, with just one senior graduating.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2018-19 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Gavin Riccobono (senior, 23-5 at 113, did not compete in post-season); Preston Turner (senior, 25-11 at 120, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Rett Maritato (sophomore, 25-13 at 126, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Alex DeAlmeida (junior, 17-14 at 132, 1 match from regions); John Whitley (sophomore, 4-12 at 138, did not compete in post-season); Ethan Baur (junior, 18-14 at 152, 1 match from regions); Troy Maritato (senior, 20-11 at 170, 1 match from regions); Zander Laurin (sophomore, 5-12 at 182, 1 match from regions).
Graduation losses from this year’s team (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience): Evan Merry (25-10 at 145, 1 match from regions).
2017-18 MVP: Without question in my mind, Gavin Riccobono was Ponte Vedra’s most solid wrestler from start-to-finish, although he did not compete in the post-season. Riccobono took an early loss at Preudhomme Duals, but then won six matches in a row between that event and Bierbaum, winning 12 matches in a row after taking a loss in the Bierbaum final. That included an 8-0 performance at Army Duals and a finals appearance at Battle on the Border, where the same wrestler — a fellow MVP — that beat Riccobono at Bierbaum also won at Yulee. Riccobono had a 2-2 performance at Clay Rotary, with one of the cleaner records on the Sharks’ roster (only one loss that didn’t go a full six minutes). He should be on most lists to be favored as a state qualifier contender next season.
2018-19 captain: Over the course of the past two years, Preston Turner has emerged as a quietly capable wrestler, picking up 25 wins in his junior season for the Sharks, a number which shared team-leading honors in that regard. Turner won six matches in a row behind a 5-0 effort at Preudhomme Duals, where he was a stalwart for Ponte Vedra. Turner added another six-match win streak that began at Army Duals and continued into Battle on the Border, starting another mini-streak of four wins at Yulee after he lost to the eventual champion of the weight class. The post-season didn’t go the way Turner would have hoped, with a fourth at districts and Friday exit at regions, but the wins he piled up in the regular season could catapult him into being a contender for states in 2018-19.
Heaton’s Hero: As I may have mentioned a time or two in these summaries, it’s a tall order to be an inexperienced freshman in the upper weights, and that was the case for Shark freshman Zander Laurin, who got his first experience with varsity wrestling at the Preudhomme Duals, facing a three-time state placewinner and the county’s best wrestler in his very first match. Welcome to the big leagues. Laurin did pick up three contested victories over the course of the season — one of those over an eventual region qualifier — but every one of his matches, with one exception, did end in a fall. And being on the losing end of falls was how Laurin’s season came to an end, but he put in appearances at three of Ponte Vedra’s bigger events of the year, finishing in the post-season. For sticking with it, Zander Laurin is the Heaton’s Hero for Ponte Vedra.
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