#TheSeason2018-19: Eastside

Welcome back to our annual series of season wrap-up posts, which we cleverly titled as “The Season (2018-19),” because we’re creative like that. Your donation dollars at work, folks.

Teams are being selected on a random basis. Our third installment out of 1A-District 5, and 25th overall, is Eastside.

Each The Season post will have the same content as they’ve had for the past five seasons.

EASTSIDE

EASTSIDE LOGO

You can see everything I have on the Rams in 2018-19 here –>  EASTSIDE

Win/loss record: 5-13 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Indians’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: This is going to be difficult for me to run through without putting my opinion on this, but the Alachua County Rams didn’t start competition until the third weekend of December, when it was a late add-on to the Bobcat Holiday Duals Field at Buchholz. Eastside didn’t return to the event for the second day, after going 0-4 in duals on the first day. There were three midweek duals in January prior to Cities, where the Rams were 0-2, with losses to crosstown rivals Buchholz and Gainesville. Eastside competed in its second dual tournament at Gainesville’s Category V Duals on the first Saturday in February, placing seventh out of 10 teams. That concluded the team’s regular season. The Rams took fifth at districts, with four wrestlers qualifying for regions. However, Eastside did not make an appearance at the region tournament in Lakeland.

Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2019-20 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Ethan Anderson (sophomore, 8-6 at 160, district runnerup); Amir Bilal (junior, 3-6 at 182, district 3rd); Zantavion Rushing (junior, 4-3 at 285, district runnerup).

Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Afi McNeal (6-4 at 220, district runnerup).

The awards and the concerns: I just don’t have enough of a sample size on the Eastside kids to know which is their MVP, which is their captain, etc. If I had to make the guesses, I’d say Ethan Anderson had the best season and based on his willingness to email me to let me know about regions and his concerns for the future of the program, that Amir Bilal would make good captain material. There was a kid who I didn’t list above, heavyweight Jamel Bell, who would have been the Heaton’s Hero for earning his first (and as it turned out, only) contested win by fall in his last match of the season. But the bigger deal is this: I don’t know if Eastside is going to have a team next year (I didn’t know if they were going to have a team this past year until they showed up at Bobcat, and apparently few others did as well). There are people in the Gainesville community who want to make this team stay alive, and apparently there must be some who want to scuttle it (see: Rickards). I hope the latter doesn’t happen, but if the folks in the former category are serious, they’re going to HAVE to commit to finding a long-term coaching situation and resources to make it happen. These kids getting 10-15 matches every year, competing against kids with 40-50 per year, is not sustainable.

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I covered wrestling for 15 years up north and "retired" in both 1992 and again in 2011. But I couldn't stay away. Started Northeast Florida Matmen in 2013, Northwest Florida Matmen in 2015. We combined those sites into North Florida Matmen in the summer of 2018. And, we've started South Georgia Matmen in November of 2018. Our work is never paywalled, our content is searchable for all time. We're here because the kids keep lacing 'em up, so we'll keep writing 'em up.

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