Brent Raby admits he's a bit of a worrier, but the Gordon Lee High School wrestling coach could have saved himself the stress. Despite not practicing for over a week, the Trojans were at their best Saturday in the Georgia Area 3-A traditional wrestling tournament at Mount Zion, running away with the team title and advancing all 14 competitors to next week's sectional round.
"This was one of the best tournaments I've been fortunate enough to coach," Raby said. "We've set ourselves up for the sectional round, and this was the kind of effort we're going to need if we're going to hang with [top-ranked] Commerce."
The Trojans were 8-for-8 in the championship round, including six wins by pin and a technical fall. Gordon Lee champions were Zach Murdock (106 pounds), Johnny Ragsdale (113), Nick Wilson (120), Stihl Lance (126), Dylan Skipper (132), Will Jacks (152), Shane Farmer (195) and Dallas Goodlet at 220.
The Trojans amassed 264 points while runner-up Mount Zion had 178.5. Trion was fourth with 118 points and qualified eight wrestlers for the sectional round.
The Gordon Lee performance followed the unexpected Tuesday snowstorm that caused the team to miss practice. Raby knew his team was ready when every wrestler showed up at weight and motivated.
"I couldn't be more pleased with their effort," he said. "The way I look at it, if we can get at least 12 o of our 14 to the state tournament, it will be anyone's game. Commerce is a great team and we'll have to be at our best."
Gilmer County was at its best in the 7-AAAA area event at Cass, edging the hosts 267.5 points to 267 and getting five champions in traditionally the most competitive area in the classification. Earning titles for the top-ranked Bobcats were Alberto Perez at 106 pounds, Danile Bautista at 120, Cameron Perry at 132, Johnie Flakes at 152 and freshman Matthew Wadell at 160.
"This is such a tough area and I'm very proud of my team's effort," said Gilmer coach Sam Snider, whose team qualified 13 of its wrestlers to the sectional round. "Today was filled with the excitement of kids reaching their potential mixed with the dissatisfaction a kid feels when they fall short. Our group and Cass will both be working hard to win the state in two weeks."
Heritage finished third with 161 points and had individual champions in Charles Thurman at 113 pounds and senior Tyler Hill at 138, while Northwest Whitfield was fourth with 150 points. Other area individual champions were LaFayette's Sam Lemons and Michael Sartin at 145 and 195 and Dalton's Sidney Wheeler at 182.
In the Area 3-AAA tournament at Central, Carroll, Sonoraville was the runner-up to Adairsville, advancing eight wrestlers to the sectional round and claiming champions in Matt Charles at 132 pounds and Kevin Hurtiz at 220. Ringgold finished sixth with 125 points and had a champion in 126-pound Sam Shepard, who was named the event's most outstanding lightweight. Coahulla Creek was seventh with 96.5 points and had a champion also, 113-pound Francisco Sanchez.
In the Area 3-AA event at Lovett, Calhoun finished fourth with 122 pounds and had champions in Aaron Aquirre at 106 pounds and Christian East at 145, while Murray County finished eighth with 80 points and claimed an individual title at 195 with Clayton Thornbury.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
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 ...