DULUTH, Ga. -- For the first time in a while, Gordon Lee came to the Georgia Class A traditional wrestling tournament without a legitimate shot to win the team title. That didn't stop the Trojans from winning some hardware, though.
Besides being distant runners-up as a team, the Trojans became the only northwest Georgia program to claim multiple titlists as sophomores Mika Clark and Alex Spires won the 112- and 119-pound classes. Both had to defeat guys they had faced just a week ago in the sectionals, though neither suffered because of it.
"After beating him last week I felt good about it today," two-time champion Clark said of his second-period pin of Darlington's Jole Peek. "I hope I get to wrestle him again next year. I know I'll face him again next week in the duals."
Spires had an even more difficult task -- defeating two-time state champion Zach Young of Bremen two times in a row. He did just that, though, with a 7-5 win in which he held off a late charge.
"I think I wanted it a little bit more," said Spires, who was a runner-up last year. "I didn't want to lose again, so I did whatever it took."
First-year Gordon Lee coach Brent Raby, whose team heads to the Class A state duals next week, believes his youthful team learned a lot this weekend.
"We're real young, and I'm all proud of them," he said. "We even had some freshmen do well this week. Both of our champions had dogfights today. I look forward to the duals next week. It's a different atmosphere and I think we're a better dual team. Bremen is senior heavy and they're a great team, so they're going to be tough as usual."
Added Spires of the possibility of knocking off defending champ Bremen: "We're going to win a state duals championship. We know it's going to take everybody working together, but we don't want to finish second again."
McCalmon makes history
Preston McCalmon became the first LaFayette wrestler to win three individual state titles with his 5-0 win over Woodward Academy's Andy Khair. Having been on this stage before helped the future Arizona State Wildcat.
"I won't be the last three-time champion, I'm sure of that, but it feels amazing to be the first," McCalmon said. "I wasn't as nervous as I had been because I knew what it took to win state. I knew I had to bring everything every match, and I did. That approach has taken me where I am today."
Duo join two-timer club
Murray County's Dalton Lane completed a 50-2 senior season with an 8-0 win in the Class AAA 152-pound final, winning his second consecutive title. He dominated his opposition with two pins and two major decisions, though he wanted more Saturday.
"He was very defensive, so I didn't have a lot of shots at him," Lane said of Locust Grove's Bryan Sorrows, who entered the match with just one loss this year. "I was just pounding his head in neutral. I knew coming in I needed to be more calm. I heard he had a good record, but I didn't know what it was."
Lane is considering scholarship offers from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Appalachian State.
Also winning his second title was Chattooga's Brandon Stiffles, who won at 140 in Class AA with a 6-5 win over Blessed Trinity's Chris Solar. Just a junior, Stiffles came into the tournament with a little extra motivation after losing in the finals last year.
"I should be a three-timer right now, but I messed up my sophomore year," he said. "I was too heavy and just ran out of gas. I was determined to come back this year and show what I can do. I plan to come back next year and win my third."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...