Logan Eller leads Trion wrestlers' charge to create lasting legacy

Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Trion senior Logan Eller, left center, is trying to help the Bulldogs win their third GHSA Class A state duals championship in four years.
Staff photo by Patrick MacCoon / Trion senior Logan Eller, left center, is trying to help the Bulldogs win their third GHSA Class A state duals championship in four years.

When Logan Eller steps on the wrestling mat for Trion High School, his teammates expect six points — the result of a pin — every time from the Appalachian State signee, whose headgear has Philippians 4:13 written on the side.

That Bible verse reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Eller has done a lot of things in four seasons for the Bulldogs, who are working their way toward winning their third GHSA Class A state duals championship in four years.

"Logan Eller is a special young man on and off the mat," Trion coach Eric Brock said. "He makes everybody in the room better. He is even keeled and is a great sportsman. Kids look up to him a lot, and his actions carry a lot of weight around here. He is our program's first wrestler who will wrestle Division I."

While wrestling can be an individualized sport at times, the Bulldogs have bought into the team-first aspect of the saying "We over me."

Eller is undefeated at 190 pounds this year at 32-0, and he is 150-5 in his prep career, but he believes the team's senior class of eight and everyone else on the roster have been brought together for a greater purpose.

"We want to go 3-for-4 in the state duals," said Eller, who won an individual state championship as a sophomore at 160. "This senior class wants to leave its legacy. We are a duals team and love that atmosphere. People from afar look and think wrestling is about the individual. But we are out here busting it for everybody else on the team. We are not in this for ourselves."

Trion is no longer a Cinderella story, as the Bulldogs swept the state duals and state traditional tournament team titles for the first time in school history last season.

The school's lone two-time individual state champion, the late Dustin Starkey, could be joined by Eller and junior teammate Toby Maddux (160) later this season at the traditional tournament held in Macon. Maddux and Eller also stood out on the football field this past fall, combining for 2,319 rushing yards and 36 touchdowns while also playing pivotal roles on defense.

"Wrestling for Trion and being a part of this team really changes and sharpens your character," Maddux said. "We go out there and don't want to let our teammates, coaches or school down. A lot of us have been wrestling together since we were 6 or 7 years old. Coach Brock has been there for all of us and is a great role model."

Senior Carter Jackson (144) has also been an inspiration, overcoming scoliosis, a double-knee surgery and three herniated discs to become a hammer in the lineup.

"I give all glory to God because without Him I wouldn't be here," Jackson said. "I have a 35-degree curve in my back, and I am able to get out there and wrestle. I feel like I am wrestling for those people who are struggling with scoliosis. At age 16, I couldn't touch my knees while standing up. Now I am competing against top state placers and doing pretty good. I am so blessed to be a part of this team."

Seniors Seth Huskins (126), Gus Hames (150), and Crawford Lee (132) are also forces for the Bulldogs, along with junior Cohen Blaschke (175) and sophomore Lane Harris (215).

"We know if we wrestle to the best of our ability, then nobody can touch us," Hames said. "We are the defending state champs, but you have to come here and put the work in. We are focused, and my teammates keep me going."

Brock was a senior member of the team when Trion won its first team state championship at the 1994 traditional tournament. Now he's in his 16th year at the helm, and the Bulldogs are a wrestling power to be reckoned with.

"Our goal is to win state championships," Brock said. "I want our guys to be humble, but when they walk in the gym I want other teams to say, "Hey, we have Trion. We better buckle up."

A week after Trion won the Area 7-A duals title, Eller was one of 10 wrestlers to record a pair of pins as the Bulldogs advanced to next weekend's state duals with a pair of convincing wins in Saturday's preliminary round. They hosted their sectional, and they were already set to host the Class A duals championship event regardless of their finish Saturday.

Trion defeated No. 4 seed Charlton County 78-6 before downing Heard County 60-24 in the final round. Edwin Francisco, Jason Jenkins, Logan Potts, James Willingham, Blaschke, Hames, Lee, Jackson and Maddux joined Eller with two pins on the day.

In Class AA, fourth-seeded Murray County surprised the field at Jordan to advance to the Elite Eight next week at Jeff Davis High School, defeating the hosts 43-36 in the opening round before beating Eagles Landing Christian Academy 60-18 in the final.

In Class AAA, Ringgold, Gordon Lee and LaFayette advanced to next week's championship round at Stephens County. Ringgold hosted a preliminary and received a bye before easily defeating Stephens County 49-30 in the final.

Gordon Lee, the No. 2 seed from Region 6-AAA after moving up from Class A this year, used a pin from Avery Bloodworth to seal a 37-35 win over No. 1 seed and host Morgan County.

LaFayette, Region 6's fourth seed, routed No. 1 seed and host Long County 62-15 to start and finished off Hart County 48-28 in the final.

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Region 6's No. 3 seed, reached the final after routing Savannah Country day 84-0 but fell to host Franklin County 45-33.

In Class AAAA, Region 7 swept its preliminary round, with Heritage, Sonoraville, Southeast Whitfield and No. 1 seed Central-Carroll each making the Elite Eight at Lovett next week.

Heritage got two pins each from Kaden Taylor, Tate Thomas, Victor Johnson, Jaden Walker and Dax Akers in winning over New Hampstead and host Bainbirdge.

Sonoraville, the No. 3 seed, had a pair of convincing wins over Wayne County, 60-21, and No. 1 seed Westminster, 52-30.

Southeast, the No. 4 seed, downed No. 1 seed Benedictine 45-35, before getting past Southwest Dekalb 42-30 in the final.

In Class AAAAA, third-seeded Calhoun lost in the opening round to No. 2 seed McIntosh 38-36.

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com.

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