For most of the high school wrestlers competing across the state of Georgia on Saturday, the goal was all about achieving individual glory. However, for those representing three north Georgia area programs there was a bit more at stake.
For two of those programs -- Gordon Lee in Class A and Gilmer County in AAAA -- several individual and, more importantly, team goals were still alive after strong showings at their respective sectional tournaments.
Gordon Lee, recent third-place finisher at the state duals, qualified 12 wrestlers for next week's traditional state tournament in Duluth and easily outclassed the competition Saturday at Darlington School. The Trojans had five sectional champions and were at their best in the final round, losing only twice in 13 matches as they amassed 235.5 points.
"It was a pretty good day, and again we finished out the final rounds strong," said Gordon Lee coach Brent Raby, who had champions in Zach Murdock (106 pounds), Johnny Ragsdale (113), Stihl Lance (126), Will Jacks (152) and Shane Farmer (195). "But [duals champ] Commerce had 13 get through, so we're going to be behind the 8-ball a bit starting out. However, we're where we want to be bracket-wise and we feel we'll have a couple early with Commerce we need to win."
Trion also had a good showing at Darlington, qualifying seven and claiming champions in Dustin Thrasher at 138 and Jordan Coker at 170.
In Class AAAA, Gilmer again had to fend off Region 7 rival Cass and did so with a strong showing in the final rounds. The Bobcats, who had 330.5 points to 296 for Class, will take 10 wrestlers to the state, including sectional champions Alberto Perez (106), Daniel Bautista (120) and Johnie Flakes (152). Cass, runner-up to Gilmer at the area and state duals as well as last week's area traditional tournament, will take eight wrestlers to Duluth.
Heritage finished seventh in the tough field and qualified four wrestlers for next week, including 113-pound champion Chuckie Thurman. LaFayette had an individual champion in Sam Lemons at 145, and Dalton's Sidney Wheeler, a state champion two years ago, won at 182.
In Class AAA, Sonoraville was a close second to Woodward Academy, 130.5 points to 129.5, and will take five wrestlers to Duluth, including champions Matt Charles at 132 and Ryan Farist at 160. In the Class AA sectional, the top-finishing area team was Calhoun in eighth place, and the only area individual champion was Murray County's Clayton Thornbury at 195 pounds.
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 ...