USA WRESTLING & TEAM GEORGIA’S STATE CHAMPIONSHIP WRAP UP
The 2016 Team Georgia State Wrestling Championship took place March 5th & 6th at the Georgia Fairgrounds in Perry, Ga. The unique venue is typically used for agricultural shows and rodeo events but this weekend, the Reaves Arena hosted over 1000 of the Peach State’s very best youth wrestlers. Team Georgia is the governing body for USA Wrestling in Georgia and the annual event has continued to increase in both size and quality. The championship tournament is spread across two days of wrestling where Big Kids State (12u Division and 14u Division) compete on Saturday followed by Little Kid’s State (6u, 8u & 10u) on Sunday.
With 40 athletes from Chattooga County qualifying for the tournament, from multiple schools and wrestling teams, the small northwest Georgia county was extremely well-represented. In Saturday’s competition, several veteran wrestlers saw action with the 12u Division where Daegen Vaughn (65lbs) picked up a pin, Gus Hames (81lbs) won a tight match 7-4, Rowan Burdick (95lbs) earned two Tech Falls and a pin, and Brantley Wilbanks (130lbs) picked up two pins and a Tech. Newcomers, Avery Sullivan (90lbs) and Logan Lary (95lbs) also performed well on the day but all discovered that winning matches at the state level doesn’t always mean going home with a medal. Vaughn, Burdick, and Wilbanks all missed the podium by a single match. Meanwhile Devon Heroch (130lbs) and Ty Veatch (130lbs) both had big days and found their way to the podium. Heroch suffered his lone loss in a thrilling 0-6 match against Veatch. Heroch opened with a pin and a decision and then rebounded after the loss to Veatch with an overtime win over Wilbanks to find himself in the Consolation Finals where, trailing 2-8, Heroch pulled off one of the best moves of the tournament with a powerful whip down resulting in a pin and a 3rd Place Finish. Ty Veatch had made it to the State Championship Finals before and missed out on a title after a highly disputed call and has made it his mission this season to redeem that painful loss. Opening up with a Major victory 8-0 followed by a 4-3 battle, Veatch powered past hometown rival Heroch to make it into the Finals again. Veatch would not be denied and controlled the match from whistle to whistle and the 5-1 victory left him the undisputed 130lb State Champion.
In the 14u Division, wrestlers like Jakoby Cottrell (150lbs), Kyle Krueger (140lbs), Jason Malone (120lbs) and Dylan Bailey (105lbs) didn’t have an easy path to Perry with less experience and mat time but still wrestled with heart. Lincoln Maddux (120lbs) opened up with a win, as did Malone. Krueger earned a Tech fall while Cottrell battled hard for his 3-1 victory. Again, at the State Championship, victories were hard to come by and the medal rounds were just beyond reach for many. For those who reached the awards podium, victory was sweet in every round. Newcomer Alex Mears (210lbs) lost a single match to the eventual tournament champion but was otherwise flawless. Pinning three opponents, including his Consolation Finals opponent in a “mere” 31 seconds, Mears demonstrated that he will be ready to contribute to his high school team next year from day one as he closed out his second year of wrestling with a powerful 3rd Place Finish. Veteran Griffin Jarrett (100lbs) found himself again in the thickest part of the 14u Division with a loaded bracket of outstanding wrestlers. Jarrett picked up two pins and a Tech Fall on his way to the Consolation Finals, losing to only one other opponent all day, Jarrett closed out his final year of USA Wrestling with a great 4th Place Finish. Jackson Bond (75lbs) made use of his power, speed and superior skill to completely dominate his bracket. Pinning every opponent he faced, Bond plowed his way to the finals without ever making it out of the first period! In the Championship Finals, Bond rolled to an overwhelming 11-4 win for his 6th State Championship title. The performance of Bond, Malone, Mears and Jarrett gave the Chattooga Indians Junior wrestlers the 14u Division Championship.
On Sunday, the younger athletes took the mat to show off their skills and Chattooga County was again heavily represented. In the 6u Division, brand new wrestlers like Avery Lewis (40lbs) & Logan Lewis (90lbs) had no fear of the competition. Logan was crowned the 90lbs State Champion while little brother, Avery, picked up some valuable experience on the mat. Skyler Hughes (49lbs) earned his first pin at the state level while Landon Marshall (46lbs) and Coleman Lee (52lbs) both had great performances. Marshall had two pins and an exciting 6-4 win on his way to the Consolation Finals where he dropped a close 2-4 match and picked up a 4thPlace Finish. Lee also had a pin and two decisions on his way to the Consolation Finals where he scored another pin and the 3rd Place Finish.
In the 8u Division, Colton McCary (48lbs) and Benton Potts (57lbs) have easily been some of the most improved wrestlers in their division. McCary earned his first state level pin while Potts had a thrilling 4-2 win before dropping one of the best matches of the day 0-4 to the number one seed and eventual tournament champion. Curt Hambright (54lbs), Ridge Drake (54lbs), Jason Jenkins (57lbs), Chuck Burkett (57lbs), Colton Sanford (60lbs), and Price Wilson (79lbs) all earned victories on the day. Drake had a pin and overtime win before falling one match short of the awards podium. Jenkins and Wilson picked up a pin each, while Sanford had a stellar performance. Sanford earned a Tech Fall and a pin and missed the medals by just 3 points. Clayton Loughridge (64lbs) picked up a pin and a Tech Fall and 3 other decisions on his way to the Consolation Finals where a very close 4-7 defeat left him with a hard-fought 4th Place Finish. Chaz Brogdon (48lbs) was a miniature wrecking ball. His sole loss, 2-5 to the eventual champion, was the only blemish on a spectacular day and a 3rd Place Finish. Brogdon, Loughridge, Hambright, Drake, Jenkins, Burkett, Sanford and Price all played their part in the Trion Mat Dogs picking up the 8u Division Championship.
At 10u, Tristan Ash (61lbs), Jackson Guinn (80lbs), Skyler Boston (65lbs), Blayke Stowe (65lbs), Landon Carlton (55lbs) and Bubba Bass (110lbs) all wrestled hard while Jimmy Fife (175lbs) was awarded his first State Championship. Guinn picked up his first state pin, and Carlton missed the medal rounds by a heart breaking 1 point loss in overtime. Older brother Gavin Carlton (61lbs) opened up with a pin and then battled hard, including an overtime victory, to make it into the finals. Gavin took home the 2nd Place finish in a strong bracket and joined other Silver Medalist, Andrew “Texas” Jones (67lbs) who picked up two pins and a Tech Fall before losing 2-3 in the Finals, and Cohen Blaschke (84lbs) who scored a Tech Fall and a pin before dropping a thriller 0-2 in the Finals. Lane Harris (80lbs) had a pin of his own and suffered a 0-2 loss in the Consolation Finals for a 4th Place Finish. Closing out the stacked 10u Division, Toby Maddux (70lbs) and Jacob Bonds (52lbs) both worked their brackets with finesse and power. Bond joined his brother, Jackson, in the finals for the second time after picking up a pin and a Major in the earlier rounds. The defensive championship match almost shut down the tournament as a crowd gathered to watch the 2-2 match slip into overtime again and again. In the 4th and final overtime known as the Ultimate Ride Out, the roaring crowd counted down the final seconds in the epic struggle as Bond refused to give ground to his opponent. The State Championship was the 2nd for Jacob Bond and marked the second time the brothers were crowned champs in the same year. Maddux’s performance was nothing short of legendary as he opened up with three consecutive pins. No opponents made it past the 2nd period with young Toby and the long awaited Finals match did not disappoint the eager crowd. The close match was put out of reach in the only 3rd period Maddux would see on the day as he turned his opponent for valuable back points and sealed the 5-2 win and his first State Championship title. Again the Trion Mat Dogs, led by Maddux, Blaschke, Jones, and Harris, overwhelmed the competition and gave them the 10u State Championship.
With 5 possible Division Championships, Chattooga County wrestlers brought home three of those and over a dozen individual medals. The performances continue to demonstrate the rich tradition of wrestling in the northwest Georgia hills and Chattooga residents have much to be proud of.