Last weekend featured two key events in the world of Team Georgia sponsored “USA Wrestling” events. The 2017 Freshman State Championship, open to all high school freshman AND any wrestlers still in 8th grade who may be already 15 years old and therefore ineligible for the youth state championship tournament, as well as the 2017 Girl’s State Championship, open to all USA Wrestling registered female wrestlers in Georgia from 12th grade down to youth.
For both events, the Chattooga Indians Youth Wrestling Club, based out of Summerville, GA, sponsored a group of nearly a dozen athletes to travel and compete for titles. Wrestling for Freshman State included Chattooga County natives, Lincoln Maddux (126), Joshua Buster (132), Jakoby Cottrell (152), Alex Mears (220), and Luis Medina (285). Traveling to Girl’s State was a stellar group of elementary and middle school wrestlers including Jaylie Burdick (50), Lindsey Browning (60), Drahnijaa Kennedy (75), Kendra Heroch (120), and Khanija Avery (175).
The Girl’s State Championship was hosted by Life University in Marietta and featured a record number of participants for Georgia. Topping out at over 110 wrestlers, including dozens of high school competitors, the championship event was a huge success. Chattooga’s young wrestlers were on hand to do more than just show up. Jaylie Burdick led things off with a quick pin that set the pace for the Indian girls that would last throughout the day. While her dynamic practice partner, LeDasija Price, a former State Champ herself, fell sick and was unable to compete, Burdick dug deep and scored pin after pin as the day wore on. Burdick scored a pin in the final round in just 12 seconds to win her first State Championship title. Lindsey Browning was a late-comer to the wrestling room and showed up to the event with very little training but a load of natural raw talent. Wrestling in her very first matches ever, Browning demonstrated huge potential even in her losses and managed to step up and win her way into the consolation finals. Entering the final period trailing 1-2, Browning battled hard and lost a heart breaker but made her entire team proud with a 4th place finish. Drahnijaa Kennedy came into the tournament as the underdog but won over the crowd in her first match with a monster slam and a pin in the first period. Kennedy found herself in the finals but suffered a back injury in the opening round. Her 2nd Place finish made her a two-time State Runner Up. Kendra Heroch and Khanija Avery are both defending State Champs with high hopes for a repeat trip to the podium. Heroch went straight to work with a 42 second pin in her opening match. Avery followed up with a 17 second pin of her own. As the tournament moved into the Championship Finals, Heroch and Avery had laser focus, both girls scoring dominating pins in the finals. The Lady Indians were the top team in the Elementary/Middle School division with three State Champions, a Runner Up and a 4th Place finisher.
Several of the Chattooga Indians girl wrestlers will continue on with their season as events will still be taking place across the nation with the Team Georgia Girl’s National Team.
Across the state in Cumming, Ga, the Chattooga County freshmen wrestlers showed up at Forsyth Central High School to battle it out with the best freshman across the state. School classifications had no part in this event and wrestlers competed against the best athletes from all seven size divisions. At 126lbs, Lincoln Maddux was in the largest bracket at the tournament and showed that he was one to be on the watch for. Maddux was a dominating force, pinning all opponents in the 32-man bracket on his way to the finals where he would face off against Jackson Lawson from Lowndes. The 7A state competitor wrestled at 132 for the high school season finishing 5th at the 7A- A Sectionals but failed to medal in the State Tournament. Maddux wrestled like a true champ in the finals against a clearly larger opponent (Freshman State grants a 5-pound weight allowance) but came up just short with a tough 2-7 loss to walk away with a hard fought 2nd place finish.
Joshua Buster (132) is still a raw athlete but competed tough throughout the event but fell short of the medal rounds. Jakoby Cottrell (152) battled through a staggering six matches on the day after opening up with a thrilling 17-15 win and a disappointing 3-6 loss in the second round. Faced with an uphill climb in the consolation bracket, Cottrell stepped up with a monumental performance, rolling off three victories by pin against impressive opponents to work his way back into the consolation finals. Although his day ended with a loss, the 4th Place finish was a tremendous accomplishment for Cottrell and a pivotal moment in his high school career.
In the top two weight classes, Chattooga’s Alex Mears (220) and Luis Medina (285) rolled into the tournament looking to make a defining statement. Mears came in with something to prove after a disappointing loss in the GHSA State Finals at the AA Class. For Medina, the 285 alternate for Chattooga High School, the 2017 Freshman State Championship was his chance to showcase the talent he leveled on opponents for the previous three years in the USA youth circuit. Medina and Mears were the talk of the tournament as they destroyed the competition round after round. In the 285 lb finals, Medina faced Rodriguez Nunnally (Social Circle), a two-time youth champ and the 2017 GHSA 4th Place finisher at the AA Classification. Medina did not disappoint his growing fan base and proud coaches. In spite of the 4-8 loss in the finals, Medina won the respect of his team mates, coaches and opponents with his sportsmanship and power on the mat. At 220 lbs, Mears was not to be denied. Andrew Parlato (Kell) had not allowed a single opponent out of the first period all day. Parlato lost the 2016 youth championship at 190 lbs by a single point and was eager to claim a title of his own but Chattooga’s Alex Mears fought with the heart of a lion.Down early in the match, Mears focused his rage and settled into the match with a maturity that seemed greater than his young years. The final score of 14-8 brought the crowd to their feet and left the fans chanting the name Al-Ex, Al-Ex. Mears and the other Indians look to build on the strong finish with national events in the off season.
The Indians are just two weeks away from their Little Kids/Big Kids State Championship Tournament to be held at the Lake Pointe Center in Cartersville, Georgia.