JASPER, Ga. — Gilmer County qualified 12 wrestlers for this week's GHSA traditional state tournament, escaping a deep Class AAAA West Sectional tournament Saturday with team championship hopes still very much alive.
The Bobcats had only two sectional titlists -- Cameron Perry at 126 pounds and Johnie Flakes at 138 -- but had 10 wrestlers finish in the top four of their weight classes.
"We're real happy," Gilmer coach Sam Snider said. "I had a couple that didn't make the finals that I thought would and vice versa, but it was good. We had 11 go to the semifinals, which was more than we had in the area tournament. Our region did well as we thought it would, with 29 of the semifinalists from Region 7."
LaFayette qualified six wrestlers for the state, led by first-place finisher Sam Lemons at 132 pounds. Ramblers coach Keith Mariakis said the tournament was tougher than most even envisioned.
"There were some great matches today," he said. "A lot of kids left it on the mat, and now it all boils down to next week."
Southeast Whitfield and Heritage qualified five each, with 220-pounder Carlos Fraire winning a title for Southeast's Raiders and 113-pound freshman Isaiah Knight finishing first for the Generals.
• Gordon Lee made it through the Class A West Sectional nearly unscathed, qualifying 13 of its 14 wrestlers.
Eight Trojans earned sectional titles: Phil Lance, Johnny Ragsdale, Blake Clayton, Alex Spires, Will Jacks, Clayton Reeves, Shane Farmer and Dallas Goodlet. Spires and Reeves reversed one-point losses from last week's area tournament, a bright note for coach Brent Raby's team.
"We wanted to turn a couple of those close losses around, and Alex and Clayton did," Raby said. "It was a good day's work, but they can't be satisfied. We're set up pretty nicely for next week, but there's still work to be done."
• Sonoraville qualified seven wrestlers in the Class AAA West Sectional at Ringgold, headlined by 152-pound champion Cody Kuhn, while the host Tigers qualified four.
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 ...