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 60th installment for this season, and fifth from 1A-District 4, is Episcopal.
Each The Season post will have the same content as they’ve had for the past five seasons.
You can see everything I have on the Eagles in 2018-19 here –> EPISCOPAL
Win/loss record: 3-14 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Eagles’ performance in IBT events.
Season in a nutshell: Episcopal had just one date on the calendar prior to Christmas, as the short-handed Eagles took 13th at Bishop Snyder’s 16-team, two-day IBT, the Westside Kiwanis Invitational. After the holiday, and before New Year’s, a fuller team took the mats in Lake City, as the Eagles were seventh at Columbia’s Tiger Duals. January started with Episcopal’s hosting of its one-day IBT, the Rob Bierbaum Invitational, where it was seventh out of 10 teams. Episcopal got to the 1A-District 4 team dual tournament semifinals, then was off until mid-month, where the Eagles picked up a midpack finish (eighth out of 16 teams) at the one-day Trojan Invitational, hosted by Lincoln. On the last Saturday in January, Episcopal competed well, but dropped all five of its duals at Bishop Snyder’s one-day duals tournament, the North Florida Duals. The Eagles began the stretch run with an 11th-place finish at the Flagler Rotary (25 teams) and took 13th at Clay’s two-day, 37-team Rotary IBT. They were fourth at the 1A-District 4 traditional tournament and took 12th at Region 1, with two state qualifiers. In Kissimmee, Episcopal finished T-19th, with one finalist. The Eagles lose just one senior starter and could have as many as eight starters back with post-season or significant regular-season time. Numbers remain an issue, but the star power remains quite large for Episcopal.
Key returners (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) for 2019-20 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Joe Jackson (junior, 30-18 at 106, district 3rd, 2-2 at regions); Kyle Hopkins (senior, 113, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Noah Meyer (junior, 9-18 at 126, 1 match from regions); Will Thompson (junior, 2-6 at 138, 1 match from regions); Reid Hampton (senior, 25-12 at 145, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Robert Jackson (senior, 9-18 at 152, district 4th, 0-2 at regions); Kaiman Clark (sophomore, 11-10 at 160, district runnerup, 0-2 at regions); Daniel Cooper (junior, 9-14 at 170, did not compete at post-season traditionals); Charles Medure (sophomore, 4-13 at 182, did not compete at post-season traditionals).
Graduation losses (15+ matches this past season or post-season experience) from this year’s team: Freddy Dollison (220, district champ, region 3rd, 0-2 at states).
2018-19 MVP: Everyone in the Florida wrestling community waited with baited breath Saturday night into Sunday after the finals, when rising senior Kyle Hopkins and his coach notified us all that he was going to be OK after having to injury-default out of the 1A 113-pound championship match in Kissimmee. Hopkins walked the walk of leadership throughout his junior season with the Eagles. We saw it week in and week out. The wins remained, but what was added was maturity and perspective — something many adults take a lot longer to grasp — and it made it very easy to root for him. Hopkins ran the table until the Flagler finals, and he got that loss back on one of the biggest stages of them all, the state semis, with titles at Kiwanis, Bierbaum, Trojan and Clay Rotary, as well as districts and regions. We hope he’ll be back safely and we hope for the best as he renews his quest for state gold next year.
2019-20 captain: Rising senior Reid Hampton, by comparison to what he would do in late January and February, got out to a slower start to the season, with a semifinals performance at Kiwanis, but after a finals appearance at Bierbaum and sixth at Trojan, Hampton went on a seven-match win streak, including a 5-0 day at North Florida Duals, in which he avenged an earlier loss. Hampton really caught our attention with a couple of wins over really solid Clay County opponents in February, and then took second at districts, with a loss in the finals to a fellow Matmen team captain (at least, when we post their recap). Hampton then had three bonus-point wins at Region 1, falling in the blood round to a six-year varsity starter (which Hampton, himself, will be next year) and Zander Laurin Warrior nominee. He should — with enough offseason and fall work — be favored to get out to states in 2019-20.
Zander Laurin Warrior: If you had ever followed the Dollison family and wondered if May graduate Freddy Dollison loved wrestling nearly as much as his older brother, let me take you back to districts, when Dollison went out on the mat with more tape on his body than some mummies I’ve seen in the movies. Dollison literally willed his body to the state tournament in 2019 after a far-too-early exit from the traditional series the previous year. He’d pinned 10 straight opponents between Bierbaum and Trojan, winning both, with a third at Flagler (where he lost in the semis to the eventual champ). He avenged a loss at Clay with his district title and qualified out for states, with his only loss to the region champ. After falling in sudden victory in a wild match (16-14), he injury-defaulted out in the consis. But simply getting there was the goal. For winning the battle with his injuries, Freddy Dollison is the Zander Laurin Warrior for Episcopal.
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