published Friday, February 21st, 2014

Georgia wrestlers shake off rust for delayed state

GHSA State Traditional Tournament Qualifiers

Class AAAA at West Laurens

Gilmer County (12)--Alberto Perez (106), Marcelino Lopez (113), Daniel Bautista (120), Dusty Lacy (126), Cameron Perry (132), Mel Mosley (138), Jaime Lopez (145), Johnie Flakes (152), Matthew Waddell (160), Zach Allen (195), Tyler Bertolini (220), Levi Seabolt (285).

Heritage (5)--Daniel Jernigan (106), Chuckie Thurman (113), Austin Frye (132), Tyler Hill (138), Blaine Bird (160).

LaFayette (2)--Sam Lemons (145), Michael Sartin (195).

Northwest Whitfield (5)--Blake Hayes (113), Justin Palmer (120), Austin Taylor (152), Jordan Pittman (170), Jordon Lewis (195).

Southeast Whitfield (3)--Omar Ruiz (120), Tyler Brown (145), Austin Allen (182).

Dalton (2)--Dylan Carlile (132), Sidney Wheeler (182).

Ridgeland (2)--Caleb Mariakis (126), Chris Henderson (285).

Class AAA at Buford

Sonoraville (6)--Kyle Chastain (120), Matt Charles (132), Austin Tillman (138), Ryan Farist (160), Abel Diaz (182), Alex Hurtiz (220).

Ringgold (3)--Sam Shepard (126), Adam Crawford (145), Wyatt Shepard (170).

Coahulla Creek (1)--Francisco Sanchez (113).

Gordon Central (2)--Dimitrie Miller (195), Callis Whaley (220).

Class AA at Toombs County

Calhoun (3)--Aaron Aquirre (106), Skyler West (138), Will Conley (170).

Murray County (2)--Domingo Bautista (113), Clayton Thornbury (195).

Chattooga (1)--Heath Kirk (145).

Class A at Commerce

Gordon Lee (12)--Zach Murdock (106), Johnny Ragsdale (113), Nick Wilson (120), Stihl Lance (126), Chase Wood (132), Dylan Skipper (138), Hunter Freeman (145), Will Jacks (152), Sydney Rhinehart (160), *Dalton Owens (170), Shane Farmer (195), Austin Goodlet (220), Jared Streetman (285).

Trion (7)-- Cary Jackson (113), James Floyd (120), Andrew McGuire (132), Dustin Thrasher (138), Jacob Latham (160), Jordan Coker (170), Cody Richardson (182).

* qualified but will not participate due to injury

A week off was one of the last things Brent Raby or Sam Snider wanted to see. Inactivity is the enemy of a wrestling coach, and when an unexpected vacation comes during championship week, emergency mode sets in.

Last week's snow event postponed the GHSA traditional state tournament, which was reset for this weekend at six separate sites, and it caused finely tuned wrestlers to lose their edge. For championship-hopeful coaches Raby at Gordon Lee and Snider at Gilmer County, Monday was about starting the building process all over again.

"We were very sluggish at first because of a lack of practice, which is not something you want to see right now," said Raby, whose Trojans are expected to battle with host Commerce for the Class A title Saturday. "As the week went on we started to get the edge back, but there are a lot of unknowns for the tournament with most every team. It's going to be interesting."

The Trojans already have had a pair of changes to their lineup. Dalton Owens will not compete at 170 pounds after sustaining a broken jaw. However, one of the team's alternates, Hunter Freeman, is now in the field at 145 after another school's wrestler had to bow out.

"I hate it for Dalton, but it's nice for Hunter to be able to compete," Raby said. "It's one of those good-news, bad-news situations. We would have loved to have gotten 13 into the field, which would have put us on even terms with Commerce, but we like what we've got."

Snider likewise is taking 12 Bobcats to the Class AAAA tournament at West Laurens High School in Dublin, where Region 7 rival Cass is expected again to provide a stiff test after finishing runner-up to Gilmer at the area duals, state duals, area traditional and west sectional events. The tournament begins today with two rounds.

"You can see it in the Cass wrestlers' eyes that they're hungry," Snider said. "I know they've been working their tails off to take this away from us. We've got a very unique and talented group that loves to go live and get after it, and they'll have to this weekend. They're good at the duals, but they seem to really shine in the individual events.

"I know one thing, they're really tired of wrestling each other."

The week off did have a silver lining for the Bobcats. Zach Allen, 195-pound title contender, has been battling injury and would not have been 100 percent if the tournament had been held last week.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6296.

about Lindsey Young...

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 ...

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