The Season 2016-17: Arnold

ARNOLD

You can see everything I have on the Marlins in 2016-17 here –>  ARNOLD

Win/loss record: 22-10 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Marlins’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: While I have all results from everything on Arnold’s schedule per their submissions to me and per Trackwrestling (with the exception of the Camden County Callout on the third Saturday in January), there are substantial disconnects between the records I have and the records reported at districts, disconnects that aren’t explained by the Camden missing results. I have shown the records as reported in the attached PDF, counting back from the post-season to Camden. That all being said, Arnold continued to rule the 1A Gulfside roost in 2016-17. The Merlins jumped out to a 9-0 start in dual meets, with wins in 12 of 13 duals and a runnerup showing at the 2016 Beast of the Beach two-day event hosted by Ft Walton Beach. After a solid start at Deep South Bayou Duals, some tough southern competition region wide led to five dual losses in a row, but Arnold responded with a nine-match dual win streak that included a Bay County Conference title and fourth-place showing at the Gulf Coast Slam. In IBT/roundrobin formats, the Marlins had a solid eighth at the Border Wars, seventh at Capital City, third at Lincoln’s Trojan Invitational and sixth at Clay’s Rotary event. Arnold also posted a solid fourth-place finish at Region 1 and finished in the top five at 1A states once again this year. The Marlins will have nine post-season starters back in 2017-18, including three returning state qualifiers and three former medalists.

2016-17 MVP: Senior 138 Richie McClanahan followed up his signing with Penn State on a mission this past year. Although records for districts indicated otherwise, his only regular-season loss came by injury-default in the round of 16 at Capital City Classic. Otherwise, his record was perfect up to the final day of the season, with a 9-0 record at Beast, 8-0 at Deep South, and IBT titles at Lincoln and Clay, with every victory in the regular season except for three earning the Marlins at least one bonus point (including 29 pins in all non-Camden results). McClanahan rolled up three first-period falls to take the District 1 title, his fourth, and added a third Region 1 title behind four bonus-point wins. At states, his bid for a second 1A state title was derailed by a one-point loss in the semis, but he rallied for third by outscoring his opponents by a 29-5 count. While we don’t know what kind of career he’ll have at Penn State, he’s going to be in the room where it happens, and it will be fun to find out.

2017-18 captain: Two years ago, the transfer of the Pickren brothers helped give the Marlins a shot in the arm. This past season, the Maddox brothers made it a double-boost. Junior 170 Cole Maddox, in particular, made a massive impact upon the state scene at his weight class, advancing the furthest among Arnold returning wrestlers this past season. Coming over from Marianna, Maddox was fifth at Border Wars and third at Capital City, but then won 18 straight matches in December, not losing again until Deep South. Maddox was locked in after the Trojan Invitational, however, winning all but one match down the homestretch of the regular season (with only a 2A state finalist beating him, and in double overtime at that). Maddox pinned his way through both District 1 and Region 1 in sweeping to titles for both, and got an opportunity to take down a multiple-time former state placer from Lake Highland on Saturday night in Kissimmee. From a workrate standpoint, Maddox’s productivity is tough to match and a model for some of the less-experienced Arnold kids this year.

Heaton’s Hero: It’s not often that a 30-match winner and history-maker gets noted here, but as we’ll soon see, Julia Merrill was no ordinary Marlin senior wrestler. Merrill had some struggles at 113 for Border Wars and Capital City (I’ll chalk those up more to the competition she faced rather than the higher weight class), but started to figure some things out by Beast of the Beach, where she had five pins. Deep South, again due to the competitive level, was a tough two days, as was the Trojan Invitational, but she made her mark at Bay County, becoming the first female wrestler to win a title in the history of that event. Competing at 106 there, Merrill was 5-0 with three first-period falls during the event. She also won three matches at girls’ state two weeks later, losing only to eventual region qualifiers along the way. A loss by injury-default at District 1 ended her season, but her place in program history was secure. For that, Julia Merrill is the Heaton’s Hero for Arnold.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Griffin Hebert (junior, 113, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Justin Ivy (sophomore, 120, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Ethan Pickren (junior, 126, district champ, region runnerup, 1 match from state medal); Jonathan Lozada (senior, 145, district champ, 2-2 at regions); Drew St. Amant (senior, 152, district champ, region champ, state 5th); John Maddox (sophomore, 160, 1 match from regions); C. Maddox (senior, 170, district champ, region champ, state runnerup); Jared Froehlich (senior, 182, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Veryl White (senior, 220, district champ, 1-2 at regions). Also: Tanner Brockman (junior, 106, did not compete in post-season); Bradley Chapman (junior, 138, did not compete in post-season); Josh Young (sophomore, 195, did not compete in post-season).

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The Season 2016-17: Fleming Island

FLEMING ISLAND

You can see everything I have on the Golden Eagles in 2016-17 here –>  FLEMING ISLAND

Win/loss record: 17-0 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Golden Eagles’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: What can one say that has not already been said in stories throughout the season? The area’s strongest team this season, Fleming Island experienced a great deal of success to pay off that strength in 2016-17. The Golden Eagles were 5-0 to win the Bobcat Duals holiday tournament at Buchholz just before Christmas, and dominated the St Johns River Conference meet in Matanzas on the third weekend of January, during which they held five SJRC opponents to less than 10 points. For the season, Fleming was 17-0 in duals. In IBTs, the Golden Eagles finished no lower than fifth in any one given meet this year, and that was the first one, with four tournament wins in January and February with a full lineup in tow. Fleming Island was fourth at Knockout, fourth at Lake Mary’s Tournament of Champions (with a short-handed lineup), first at Osceola, third at Flagler Rotary and won the Green Cove Springs Rotary. The Golden Eagles left no doubt in both the District 1 and Region 1 tournaments, sweeping to titles there, and finished second at states after taking 11 to Kissimmee. While many teams would not recover well from losing three state qualifiers (including a champion) to graduation, Fleming Island returns eleven post-season starters in 2017-18, eight of those with state experience a year ago, with four of those eight podium finishers. And, they’ll have a lot of depth back as well, with a wave of freshmen coming in this year.

2016-17 MVP: Senior 182 Jason Davis was just on First Coast News last night as a finalist for that media organization’s Athlete of the Year. We are not surprised by that accolade. Davis had just two losses in his run to the 3A state championship at 182, and both of those came to — arguably — the state’s best senior in any weight class this year, and a multiple-time state champion. Davis didn’t make his first appearance until Lyman in the third week of December, and ripped through three falls and a tech before losing in the finals. He then won eight in a row through Knockout and Tournament of Champions (not appearing at Buchholz), with a second loss in the finals at the Lake Mary event, by the same score to the same wrestler. That was it. Davis won his final 36 matches of the season, 23 of those by fall and all but one of his remaining regular-season wins were bonus-point wins. Davis pinned his way through the District 1 tournament, with three bonus-point wins and a shutout decision at Region 1. He proved he could win the close ones at Kissimmee, with three decisions in the quarters, semis and final in succession to take the championship. Perhaps the biggest surprise in all of this was that Davis dropped a weight from where he had previously competed in his junior year.

2017-18 captain: I really went back-and-forth on this one. Both candidates will be key leaders next year, but as I can take only one, I will go with junior 152 Paul Detwiler. Detwiler won his first eight matches in 2016-17, taking first at Clash of the Titans at University-Orange City on the first weekend of the season, leading the charge of a fairly short-handed FIHS side. Detwiler finished second to a multiple-time state champ in the Lyman finals two weekends later, and took two losses to the same wrestler at Knockout, finishing fourth (his lowest tournament finish of the season) there. Another multiple-time state champ gave Detwiler his fourth loss of the year at Lake Mary, but after that Detwiler would bag 27 wins in a row, 18 of those by fall, with tournament wins at Flagler, Clay, District 1 and Region 1 along the way. Detwiler pinned his way through districts and had two falls and two techs at regions. At states, another multiple-time champion knocked him out of the championship side of the bracket in the semis, but Detwiler came back to place third, finishing off a 50+-win season.

Heaton’s Hero: On a lot of teams with the typical schedule those teams might wrestle, a freshman middleweight competitor like Luke Chop might, with the talent Chop brought to the table, put together a 25-win season. But this being Fleming Island and the Golden Eagles wrestling the schedule that they do, Chop had to pay some dues just to hang around the .500 line (if it’s any consolation, Davis was 19-15 through districts as a freshman, at a middle-weight class himself). Chop was probably a more natural 138, getting his first varsity action at that weight at the Buchholz event just before Christmas, but bumped up to 145 for the two-day duals/IBT Osceola tournament in mid-January, staying there for the remainder of the year. I thought he did OK, going 4-2 at St Johns River (including four straight wins), with a 2-2 showing at Flagler Rotary. At Clay’s Rotary tournament, his exit was quick, but he lost to two solid kids by a combined total of six points. Chop was the only post-season starter not to make the region tournament, but of the next wave of upcoming freshmen in Fleming’s lineup, he was the only one to get the chance to try. Luke Chop is the Heaton’s Hero for Fleming Island.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Briar Jackson (junior, 106, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Albie Snedaker (senior, 113, district champ, region champ, 1-2 at states); DeAndre Demus (junior, 120, district runnerup, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Jacob Sandoval (senior, 126, district runnerup, region 4th, 1-2 at states); Trace Insalaco (junior, 132, district 3rd, region 4th, 0-2 at states); Vince Hauser (junior, 138, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Chop (sophomore, 145, 1 match from regions); Detwiler (senior, 152, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Jalyn Robinson (senior, 170, district runnerup, 1 match from states); Ryan Smenda (senior, 195, district champ, region runnerup, state 5th); Jose Concepcion (senior, 285, district runnerup, region 3rd, state 6th). Also: Joseph Donato (sophomore, 106, did not compete in post-season); Tyler Williams (sophomore, 132, did not compete in post-season); Seamus Wade (senior, 152, did not compete in post-season); Ian Kincaid (junior, 160, did not compete in post-season); Anthony Breeden (junior, 170, did not compete in post-season); Bennett Corey (sophomore, 195, did not compete in post-season).

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The Season 2016-17: Bozeman

BOZEMAN

You can see everything I have on the Bucks in 2016-17 here –>  BOZEMAN

Win/loss record: Unknown in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Bucks’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: We only received partial results for Bozeman from Gulf Coast Slam, but I’m seeing at least eight dual wins on the season for the Bucks. Bozeman had a tough start in its dual season, going 1-7 at Beast of the Beach, a record that held up until Bay County, where the Bucks finished third with a 3-2 mark. Bozeman also was 4-4 at North Bay Haven’s two-day Bash duals event. In the regular season, round-robin tournaments were also a bit tough for the Bucks to compete in, as they finished at or near the bottom of two of them, with a middle-pack finish at Wewahitchka’s Gator Brawl. However, with just eight wrestlers in the lineup, and no district champions, Bozeman pulled together a runnerup showing at District 1, its strongest event showing of the 2016-17 season. Things got tougher for the Bucks at Clay for the Region 1 tournament, as only three wrestlers were able to move into the second day of competition (one of them returning). If Bozeman can consistently fill some more weights, they should improve on this year’s results, but being able to consistently fill weights was the most difficult challenge Bozeman faced this season.

2016-17 MVP: Junior 120 Douglas Hanson was one of Bozeman’s most consistent presences in the lineup in 2016-17. Hanson was second at the Seminole Wrestling Classic, winning 10 matches in a row at one point to carry a 12-1 record. Gator Brawl was a tougher weekend for him, an event in which he took three losses over the course of the two-day round-robin, but after that Hanson won nine matches in succession. Hanson would pull together another seven in a row in early February, but things got tougher from there, as he took a loss by injury default in the District 1 final, and that might have derailed his chances of getting out to states the following weekend. Hanson did get to the second day of Region 1, and at least this coming year he’ll be the only Bozeman wrestler who did so. As a sophomore, he was one match away from states, so if he can remain healthy in 2017-18, he’s got a shot at going to Kissimmee.

2017-18 captain: Another solid presence in the Bucks’ middle of the lineup — where he was often the only wrestler in the lineup between 132 and 152 — was junior 138 Triston Tiller. Tiller had a six-match win streak during Beast of the Beach, and after a subpar Beast of the Beach event — at least from his standpoint — Tiller had three bonus wins in a row, and five of six, to reach the top four at Gator Brawl, but then took an injury-default loss in the semis, and had only partial appearances at Bay County and Gulf Coast Slam. He took a second injury-default loss at North Bay Haven Bash, but later got that loss back. A loss in the District 1 semis sent Tiller to the consis at Wewahitchka, but he had two quick falls (both in under a minute) to finish third there, with losses to either Matmen team captains or MVPs in the first day of regions on Friday at Clay.

Heaton’s Hero: At almost every point of the 2016-17 season, Bozeman starting 113 Wylie DeBarr was giving up at least two years in age to every other competitor he faced last year, and from a confidence standpoint, that’s a very difficult thing to overcome. But, other than one day of the North Bay Haven Bash, DeBarr, a 7th-grader this past year, was a consistent presence in the Bozeman lineup after getting a few matches in as a sixth-grader in 2015-16. DeBarr had a solid start and finish to his season. It was just the middle of January that was largely forgettable, as DeBarr was on the good side of .500 just before the Bucks traveled to the Atlantic coast for Yulee’s Battle on the Border. That stretch began in the first full weekend of January and continued through Bay County, closer to the end, but DeBarr didn’t give up, even getting out to regions. For that persistence, Wylie DeBarr is the Heaton’s Hero for Bozeman.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): DeBarr (8th grade, 113, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Hanson (senior, 120, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Brian Zerr (junior, 126, district 4th, 1-2 at regions); Tiller (senior, 138, district 3rd, 1-2 at regions); Geovanny Toscano (sophomore, 195, district 4th, did not compete at regions); Joey Delarosa (senior, 285, district runnerup, 1-2 at regions). Also: Justin Johnson (7th grade, 106, did not compete in post-season); Matthew Green (senior, 132, did not compete in post-season); Trey Elmore (junior, 145, did not compete in post-season); Caleb Ward (junior, 170, did not compete in post-season).

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Megatron Duals Results

Just checked Trackwrestling. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the bracketed tournaments are up, but no results are posted to them. I’ll add dual results from teams that competed, and would prefer full duals rather than a summary of a given team’s records.

Megatron Duals — Clay Results

(Where it’s obvious that only first names are being employed, I will simply post the opponent rather than the name of the opponent).

Clay 58, Ft Lauderdale 15
105: Shawn Tahir (Cl) p. R. Limperis, 3:35. 110: Nate Orum (Cl) fft. 117: Jonathan Conrad (Cl) fft. 124: Daniel Porter (Cl) md. Yancy, 13-2. 130: Nick Vugman (Cl) p. Mabid. 136: Dylan Fabiani (Cl) p. Huercamp, 2:01. 142: Tyler Dahlgren (Cl) p. J. Limperis, :55. 149: PA Ferguson (Cl) p. Campineles, :50. 156: Jacob Conrad (Cl) p. Nelson, 2:30. 165: Bellar (FL) p. Garrett Weseman, 3:23. 175: Campos (FL) d. John Tiedeman, 8-4. 190: Lopouchanski (FL) d. John Trevor Hinsey, 10-3. 220: Williams (FL) d. Kaleb Collins, 7-1. 285: Kurt Jackson (Cl) fft.

Clay 75, Pinellas Park 4
105: McKinnon (P) md. Tahir, 16-4. 110: Orum (Cl) p. Harness, 2:10. 117: Jo. Conrad (Cl) p. Holland, :50. 124: Porter (Cl) p. Laporte, 1:13. 130: Vugman (Cl) p. Headley, 1:16. 136: Fabiani (Cl) p. Gonzales, 1:09. 142: Dahlgren (Cl) p. Meyers, 1:44. 149: Ferguson (Cl) p. Cory, :28. 156: Ja. Conrad (Cl) p. Blake, 3:54. 164: Weseman (Cl) p. Rivera, 3:46. 175: Tiedeman (Cl) d. Smith, 8-4. 190: Hinsey (Cl) p. Elvir, :54. 220: Collins (Cl) p. Kelly, :31. 285: Jackson (Cl) p. Syms, 1:18.

Hammerheads 33, Clay 33 (criteria)
105: Hammerheads p. Tahir. 110: Hammerheads d. Orum, 10-4. 117: Jo. Conrad (Cl) md. Hammerheads, 10-1. 124: Hammerheads d. Porter, 7-4. 130: Vugman (Cl) tf. Hammerheads, 15-0. 136: Fabiani (Cl) p. Hammerheads, :45. 142: Dahlgren (Cl) d. Determan, 3-1. 149: Minto (H) p. Ferguson. 156: Hammerheads d. Ja. Conrad, 5-1. 164: Hammerheads p. Weseman. 175: Hammerheads p. Carson Yost. 190: Hinsey (Cl) d. Mills, 9-8. 220: Collins (Cl) fft. 285: Jackson (Cl) p. Hammerheads.

Brandon 33, Clay 32
105: Brandon p. Tahir. 110: Brandon d. Orum, OT. 117: Jo. Conrad (Cl) tf. Brandon. 124: Brandon d. Porter, 3-2. 130: Vugman (Cl) d. Brandon. 136: Fabiani (Cl) p. Brandon. 142: Dahlgren (Cl) d. Brandon, 7-1. 149: Brandon p. Ferguson. 156: Brandon d. Ja. Conrad. 165: Brandon p. Weseman. 175: Brandon p. Yost. 190: Hinsey (Cl) d. Brandon, 9-5. 220: Collins (Cl) p. Brandon. 285: Jackson (Cl) p. Brandon.

Clay 60, Monster 7
105: Monster md. Tahir, 9-0. 110: Orum (Cl) md. Rocher, 9-1. 117: Jo. Conrad (Cl) p. Monster, 2:15. 124: Porter (Cl) d. Monster, 5-1. 130: Saint Pierre (M) d. Vugman, 12-6. 136: Fabiani (Cl) p. Monster. 142: Dahlgren (Cl) fft. 149: Ferguson (Cl) md. Monster. 156: Ja. Conrad (Cl) p. Monster, :30. 164: Weseman (Cl) p. Monster. 175: Yost (Cl) p. Monster. 190: Hinsey (Cl) p. Monster. 220: Collins (Cl) d. Monster, 4-0. 285: Jackson (Cl) p. Monster.

Clay 64, Coral Park Rams 9
105: Coral Park p. Tahir, :47. 110: Orum (Cl) fft. 117: Arocha (CPR) d. Jo. Conrad, 6-5. 124: Porter (Cl) p. Gao, 1:54. 130: Vugman (Cl) d. Renejuste, 7-6. 136: Fabiani (Cl) p. Perez, 1:56. 142: Dahlgren (Cl) p. Hernandez, 1:15. 149: Ferguson (Cl) d. Ordonez, 2-0. 156: Ja. Conrad (Cl) DQ over Llans. 164: Weseman (Cl) p. Guzman, :25. 175: Yost (Cl) p. Arteaga, 1:20. 190: Hinsey (Cl) p. Nunez, 1:57. 220: Collins (Cl) fft. 285: Jackson (Cl) fft.

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Megatron Duals

I have duals from Clay, at the Megatron event, that I will work on later on tonight. If I get others, I’d like to include them with Clay’s on one take. Will see if Trackwrestling is indeed functional for the event later tonight as well.

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The Season 2016-17: Flagler Palm Coast

FLAGLER PALM COAST

You can see everything I have on the Bulldogs in 2016-17 here –> FLAGLER PALM COAST

Win/loss record: 15-0 in dual meets. Please review the attached document for a summary of the Bulldogs’ performance in IBT events.

Season in a nutshell: As one of the coverage area’s three statewide elite programs, Flagler Palm Coast set and accomplished several high goals this past season. The Bulldogs did not schedule as many dual events in 2016-17 as they did in the previous couple of seasons, but dominated their own Flagler Duals event in mid-January, going 10-0 with an average margin of victory of 57.4 points per dual (unfortunately, we only received match-by-match of two of those duals, as it turned out). In January and February, FPC picked up double-digit dual wins over state-ranked opponents, closing its dual season with a #BattleForFlagler win over its county rival to secure a 15-0 duals record for the season. In IBTs, the Bulldogs were just about as strong, finishing no lower than sixth (and that was at Knockout) prior to the state tournament. That included a third at Border Wars and second at Lyman in December, and a team win at Springstead’s tough Corey Hill Invitational the first weekend of January. FPC was second at its own 33-team Rotary event, defended its Five Star Conference title and — with just 12 kids in the lineup — turned in a second-place effort at District 1 and third-place one at Region 1, where the Bulldogs landed six state qualifiers. Of those six, five return for 2017-18, with a returning state champion and a second state medalist among them. FPC will have eight 2017 post-season starters back,

2016-17 MVP: In almost every way possible, 2016-17 was the perfect season for junior 126 Avery Holder. It began with a 7-0 weekend, with five bonus-point wins, at Border Wars in early December. Holder had his only loss of the season at the Lyman Invitational, just before Christmas, in the semifinals against the eventual 1A state runnerup, with four bonus-point wins sandwiching that loss. After a win streak of 11 wins was snapped by that loss, Holder would roll through the next 39 matches unscathed all the way to the top of the podium at Silver Spurs on Saturday night, with titles at Knockout and Corey Hill, an unbeaten run through Flagler Duals, and a Five Star Conference title. Holder had two pins and a tech fall in winning District 1, and had three bonus-point wins at Region 1, with a shutout in the final. Only Saturday night was he seriously pushed. And I think he’s still got so much more room to grow as a wrestler. Stunning talent. Glad I’ll get to see him for one more year.

2017-18 captain: Holder is half of what the FPC program calls the “two-headed dragon.” The other half, the ice to Holder’s fire if you will, is junior 120 Michael DeAugustino, whose near-flawless technique has led to three state podium finishes over the last three years. DeAugustino reached the finals at Border Wars, dropping an ultimate-tiebreaker loss to a fellow elite from Alabama there, and then won nine matches in a row, with a title at Lyman and runnerup effort at Knockout. That would be the last loss DeAugustino would have until Saturday at states, and he was able to get that loss back in a mid-January dual victory. DeAugustino also won at Springstead and was unbeaten at Flagler Duals, with two pins and a decision at District 1 and a fall, two techs and decision at Region 1. DeAugustino didn’t allow a point scored on Friday at states, but the loss he got back in mid-January turned back the other way. He would rally for two solid decisions to finish third. DeAugustino’s work ethic is without parallel, however, and any young wrestler — FPC-bound or not — would do well to follow his example.

Heaton’s Hero: In a lineup with TEN 30-match winners, a first-year senior starter going 23-21 certainly draws my interest. That’s the case for Bulldog 160 Keith Boswell, who started the year at 170 for the Bulldogs and at one point was 3-7 while trying to adjust to the competitive level of his team’s schedule. Boswell did rally at Flagler Duals, climbing above the .500 mark there, but then dropped four in a row immediately afterward. One of his stronger efforts came at Five Star, where he reached the 160 final behind a pair of falls, and he went 2-2 at both District 1 and Region 1, qualifying out to the second day of that event with a pair of decisions over Orlando-area wrestlers. He was a consistent presence in the lineup, and with a few early holes in the FPC lineup up top, the Bulldogs needed his contributions. For that good work, Keith Boswell is the Heaton’s Hero for Flagler Palm Coast.

Projected returning starters for 2017-18 (with year in school as they’ll be next year): Christian Sheppard (junior, 106, district runnerup, region 4th, 0-2 at states); DeAugustino (senior, 120, district champ, region champ, state 3rd); Holder (senior, 126, district champ, region champ, state CHAMPION); Damion Figouera (senior, 132, distrct runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Michael Martins (senior, 138, district champ, region runnerup, 1-2 at states); Tyrone Jones (senior, 145, region 3rd, 1 match from state medal); Curtis Brock (junior, 152, district runnerup, 2-2 at regions); Tyler Irigoyen (junior, 220, district runnerup, 1 match from states). Also: Devonte Williams (senior, 106, did not compete in post-season); John Johnson (junior, 106, did not compete in post-season); Jason Muniz (senior, 195, did not compete in post-season).

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He Loved His Team & His Sport

taylor

I interviewed Skyler Taylor twice during my time for this little web space and his time representing the Orange Park wrestling team.

The first was during a dual between the Raiders and Fletcher in mid-December of 2013. The second was at the 2A-District 3 meet at Englewood, in February 2014.

My impressions were then as they are now, after we all learned of his tragic drowning off Vilano Beach in St. Augustine last weekend. Although I’d seen many posts offered in prayer for him and his family throughout the week, I held off on a post on it until it was reported publicly that identification his body was found. (Edit: I’ve learned that a GoFundMe has been started for expenses related to his passing).

When I last interviewed him, Taylor was a junior at OPHS, and was very happy to win his title after pinning his way through the draw, helping his team put together a dominant performance. A week later, he came up just a match short of the 2A state tournament.

In the 2014-15 season, Taylor again pinned his way through the draw to win District 3 once again as a senior. The Raiders were able to hang on to the team title there as well. He was able to accomplish what he came just short of in the previous year, qualifying for states with a runnerup effort at Region 1, and won his first match in Kissimmee, going 1-2 there.

I have no words of profound wisdom, besides love on your parents if you’re a teenager reading this, and hug your kids if you are a parent like me. I’m not going to pretend for you all that I knew Skyler Taylor very well. I did not.

To me, Taylor was a friendly, outgoing young man in the two brief occasions I had to interview him. Loved his team. Loved his teammates. Loved wrestling. I saw enough of him, in the many times I saw the Raiders on the mats from 2013-15, to learn that much about him.

And that’s how I will remember him. Whatever your best memories are of Skyler Taylor, remember those first.

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