By SHANNON HEATON
South Georgia Matmen
MACON — Reaching the pinnacle once is difficult enough. Doing it twice in a five-week span is much harder than it looks.
Thanks to a nine-medal effort in last weekend’s 6A state traditional tournament at the Macon Centreplex, Valdosta added a traditional title to go with its duals title won in mid-January.
The Wildcats had the point standings more or less locked up heading into the final round, pulling away from Pope with a 35.5-point margin of victory, 177-141.5. Alexander was third at 132.5, Richmond Hill fourth at 131 and Creekview rounding out the top five with 116.5 points.
One of the Wildcats’ dominant freshmen, Noah Pettigrew (195), won Valdosta’s lone title-winner. Pettigrew (34-2) had pinned his way through the bracket before taking done, in the second of two all-Matmen-area finals, previously-unbeaten Jaquarius Middlebrooks of Glynn Academy, 9-2, for the title.
While Pettigrew has three more years to show Georgia how dominant he still might become, the state got to see Trace Insalaco dominate after three years of putting together all the pieces of tremendous talent.
That coming together culminated on Saturday for the Brunswick senior, as Insalaco (56-2) knocked off fellow area senior Case Merritt of Coffee (50-4), 11-6, to win the first wrestling state title coming out of Glynn County.
Teamwise, Coffee was next best among area teams, finishing ninth with 78.5 points (six individual medalists). Brunswick took 10th with 70, while Lee was 13th, with 56.5 points on three medalists. Glynn Academy, with one medalist, was 17th on 31 points.
Below follows a recap of each weight class, with local performances for the entirety of the weekend:
106 — Alexander freshman Andrew Voiles (55-2) rolled up two pins in the early rounds, then took a pair of decisions, including in the finals over Valdosta freshman Darrell Rochester (54-6), 9-6. Rochester reached the finals behind pins over Apalachee’s Levi Norberg (1:31) on Wednesday and Lee sixth-place freshman Drake McMinn (3:34) on Thursday. Rochester then downed fifth-place Brunswick sophomore Trent Burke, 8-4, in the semis. Burke’s path to the semis saw him take two early bonus-point wins, including a pin on Wednesday (1:32) over Harrison’s Wyatt Slight and 11-2 major over Lakeside Evans’ Ezekiel Ki; after the loss to Rochester, Burke (48-6) then lost by fall to third-place Dalton freshman Cole Hunt (4:28), but held down McMinn (44-15) for fifth, 2-0. Hunt (63-4) won the third-place match, 3-0, over Pope freshman Joey Robinson (51-7), who’d majored Hunt in the quarters. Glynn’s Aidan Bee was 0-2 in the tournament, with a front side loss to Hunt (1:19) and WB round 1 loss to Northgate’s Brandon Bailey (3:55).
113 — In a match up of section champions, South Paulding freshman Jacob Seymour (64-3) had two bonus-point wins and two decisions, the second of those an 8-2 decision in the finals over Sequoyah sophomore Carson Throne (47-5). Coffee senior Phillip Farabow (38-13) was the area’s top finisher, taking sixth. Farabow dropped his first match of the tournament by fall to Heritage (Conyers)’ Caige Lackey, in 3:32, but won three on the bounce on the backside in order to claim a podium place, with wins over Glynn’s Jamal Burkes (3:46) in WB round 1, Brunswick’s Jermiah Dawson (10-4) in WB round 2 and Valdosta’s Kaleb Davis (13-6) in the blood round. Farabow (38-13) then lost by fall to third-place Alexander senior David Jackson-Dodd and fell, 4-1, in the fifth-place match to Richmond Hill junior Kaleb Anderson (38-11), while Jackson-Dodd (45-17) held off Creekview freshman Andrew Cory (53-11), 9-8, for third. Davis reached the blood round after losing in the round of 16 to Anderson 6-4, but then downed Lee’s Zach Schultz, 6-1, in WB round 1 and pinned Cambridge’s Ben Werth in 4:57 in WB round 2. Brunswick’s Dawson was a quarterfinalist, with a fall over Pope’s Jacob Robinson (5:34) in the round of 16 before losing, 13-0, on the front to Seymour and to Farabow on the back. Schultz and Burkes were both 0-2 in the tournament, taking front-side losses to Jackson-Dodd (12-4) and Throne (1:26), respectively.
120 — Sequoyah junior Christian Small (54-1) bonus-pointed his way into the final (2 pins & major), taking down Pope junior Max Druhot (43-5), 7-2, in the championship match. Valdosta junior Jordan Hampton (30-5) lost only to Druhot in the quarters, also by a 7-2 count, en route to placing third. Hampton teched Lanier’s Justus Lawrence (19-3 in 3:41) on Wednesday; after the loss to Druhot, Hampton won four times on the back: 12-0 over Habersham’s Nolberto Chastain in WB round 2; 20-3 tech in 3:45 in the blood round over Heritage (Conyers)’ Jaden Mosley; fall in 1:55 over fifth-place Dalton senior Ethan Carroll; and a 10-2 major for third over Harrison sophomore Jarrod Pominville (48-12). Carroll (50-15) won by medical forfeit over South Paulding junior Dustin Byers (40-10) for fifth. Coffee’s Zane Cumbass was 1-2 in the tournament, with a front-side loss (6-4) to Alexander’s Grant Foster, a 9-5 win in WB round 1 over Dunwoody’s Ben Tarrago, with his tournament ending in WB round 2 on a 2-1 loss to Creekview’s Walker Wilkie (lost in the blood round to Pominville). Brunswick’s Demonta Pitts was 0-2 in the tournament, with losses to Carroll (:59 on the front) and Chastain (10-1 in WB round 1).
126 — Dalton sophomore Hunter Noland (55-1) pinned his way through the bracket, with four falls in all, none going past the second period, with fourth pin in the finals over Pope sophomore Alex Hearn (39-14). Three area wrestlers found their way on the podium, with Lee junior Ethan Dooley (44-12) falling Valdosta freshman Tyler Lamon (40-11) in 43 seconds for third and Coffee sophomore Nolan Smith (47-9) edging South Paulding junior Noah Van Dyck (38-16), 6-5, for fifth. Dooley got to the semis with front-side wins over Van Dyck (14-3) on Wednesday and Creekview’s Mason Botts (8-3) on Thursday, losing by fall to Noland (2:44) on Friday. Dooley came back with a pair of pins, including a fall in the consi semis (4:26) over Van Dyck. Lamon pinned Gainesville’s Kendice Cavazos (3:48) in the round of 16, but then lost by fall to Noland (2:39) in the quarters. Lamon then strung together three decisions on the back (4-0 over Stephenson’s Alec Sanders in WB round 2, 5-3 over Botts in the blood round and 2-0 over Smith in the consi semis). Smith also reached the semis, with front-side wins over Dacula’s Andrew Lele (5-2) and Brunswick’s Christian Sheppard (6-4) before losing to Hearn, 5-1. Sheppard was 2-2 in the tournament and got to the blood round, with a front-side 9-8 win over Sanders and a fall in 2:19 over Greenbrier’s Kyler Horton in WB round 2.
132 — Dalton senior Tyler Hunt ran the table for the season, improving his record to 66-0 with four bonus-point wins, the last of those a 13-4 major in the finals over Cambridge sophomore Kyle Romano (56-6). Richmond Hill junior William Shores (46-7) decisioned Creekview freshman Cade Sousa (29-13), 7-3, for third place, while Pope junior Patrick Haskin (39-20) won by forfeit over Alexander senior Nathaniel Green (40-21) for fifth. Valdosta’s Cameron Bradley, Brunswick’s Dalton Zachry and Coffee’s Garrett Kelley were all 0-2 in the tournament. Bradley lost to Shores (9-0) on the front and to Harrison’s Brian Kratt (9-8) on the back, while Zachry lost to Romano (:55) on the front and Heritage (Conyers)’ Myran Henderson (7-1) on the back. Kelley took a tech-fall loss to Green (20-4 in 5:05) and Greenview’s Dakota Williamson (4:54) on the back.
138 — Evans sophomore Jackson Eller ran his record to 57-0, sandwiching a pair of decisions around two bookend falls, the last of those in 5:01 in the finals over Centennial sophomore Josh Siegel (42-10). Valdosta senior Aushaud Evans placed fifth in the tournament, opening with a 15-0 tech fall in 3:02 over Effingham’s Matthew Holton, but then fell to Houston third-place senior Bryan Hernandez-Martinez in the quarters, 2-1. Evans then won twice to secure a podium space, teching Cambridge’s Nicholas Barton (15-0 in 3:59) in WB round 2 and decisioning Lee’s Phin Johnson, 5-2, in the blood round. After losing by tech in the consi semis (15-0 in 4:30) to fourth-place Dalton senior Jaxon Wells, Evans (39-12) pinned Richmond Hill sophomore Brandon Langley (42-8) in 4:05 for fifth. Johnson’s trek to the blood round saw him take a front-side win over Langley (7-2) in the round of 16, but he then fell to Siegel, 8-2, in the quarters. Johnson then pinned Brunswick’s Cameron Crump (:43) in WB round 2. Crump, in turn, was 1-2 in the tournament, with a 16-6 front-side loss to Jones Creek’s Scean Major, and a 12-6 win in WB round 1 over Alexander’s Kavare Johnson.
145 — Insalaco had two bonus-point wins on Wednesday and Thursday, majoring Stephenson’s Damonie Young, 10-1, in the round of 16 and teching Sequoyah’s Brendan Jones (18-2 in 6 minutes). In the semis, Insalaco decisioned fourth-place River Ridge sophomore Jake Piccirilli, 8-2, to get to Merritt. Merritt advanced to the finals with a fall in 1 minut over Lanier’s Corbin Beumer on Wednesday, a 13-7 decision over Dunwoody’s Luke Pankey in the Thursday quarterfinal, and 5-3 win on Friday in the semis over fifth-place Evans junior Joseph Derringer. Pope junior Troy Gable (53-8) decisoined Piccirilli (43-11), 4-1, for third, while Derringer (52-7) scored a takedown in overtime for a 6-4 win over Heritage (Conyers) senior Yamon Carr for fifth.
152 — Evans junior Drew Eller completed an unbeaten (56-0) season by bonus-pointing his way through the tournament, with two techs and a pin before majoring Richmond Hill senior Will Evans (43-5), 13-5, for the championship. Creekview junior Jared Wilmarth (54-12) majored Pope junior Andrew Barner (31-14), 13-4, for third place, while Centennial senior Isaiah Thomas (32-11) won by medical forfeit over Alexander sophomore Dawson Mathew (52-12). Valdosta’s Javari Lester and Brunswick’s Chuckobe Hill were both 2-2 in the tournament, as both lost in the blood round. Lester won by injury default over Hill in the round of 16, taking a loss by fall to Wilmarth (5:49) in the quarters. Lester then pinned Sprayberry’s Zack Field (5:34) before dropping a 2-1 loss to Mathew in the blood round. After losing to Lester, Hill bounced back with a 17-4 major over Lanier’s Blake Gehrisch in WB round 1 and an injury-default win of his own over Grovetown’s Caleb Price in WB round 2, falling, 10-5, to Thomas in the blood round.
160 — Cambridge junior Gavin Kane also stayed unbeaten for the year (46-0), bonus-pointing his way through the tournament, with three pins and a major. The third fall came in the finals, where Kane took down a formerly-unbeaten competitor in Richmond Hill sophomore Kamdyn Munro (40-1). Brunswick senior Curtis Brock was fourth, Coffee junior Tayon Wimberly fifth and Valdosta junior Sam McFarland sixth in representing the area well. Brock got to the semis and gave Kane his closest match of the tournament in that round. Brock teched Dunwoody’s Jack Holloway (15-0 in 4 minutes), then majored Alexander’s Carringon Johnson, 10-1, in the quarters before being the only wrestler in the tournament to go six minutes with Kane, falling, 13-4. On the consi side, Brock (50-9) pinned McFarland in 30 seconds before falling in the third-place match to Creekview junior Wyatt Higgins (53-5), 3-2. Wimberly had a front-side tech in the round of 16 (17-1 in 6 minutes) over Effingham’s Brayden Bell, but then lost by fall to Kane (1:49) in the quarters. Wimberly then won by injury-default over Pope’s Derek Robinson in WB round 2 and downed Johnson, 4-1, in the blood round. After falling to Higgins, 13-2, in the consi semis, Wimberly (48-12) majored McFarland (22-15), 13-3, for fifth. McFarland fell to Johnson, 7-2, in the round of 16, but then won three times to make podium: 6-0 over Holloway in WB round 1; 3:35 over Houston’s Reed Vincent in WB round 2; and 5:29 over Bell in the blood round.
170 — South Paulding junior Austin Seymour (65-2) picked off two pins and two decisions in joining his brother atop the 6A podium, with a 7-3 win in the finals over Alexander senior Gabriel Santiago (47-16). Valdosta senior Dominique Dale (51-8) took third, his tournament run stopped with a late fall to Santiago (5:58) in the semis. Dale pinned Apalachee’s Hunter Noblett (1:12) on Wednesday and majored Lovett’s Kristian Steed, 13-5, on Thursday. After the loss, Dale (51-8) decisioned Cambridge sixth-place sophomore Evan Kurtz, 4-2, in the consi semis and went extra time in the third-place match, downing Chattahoochee senior Marcus Stephens (45-8), 5-3 in sudden victory. Richmond Hill sophomore Tate Evans (43-10) decisioned Kurtz (32-10), 8-5, for fifth. Brunswick’s Ryan Buckley was 0-2 in the tournament, with a 6-2 loss on the front to Sequoyah’s Jacob Poole and a loss by fall on the back to Tucker’s Justin Carter (1:37) in WB round 1.
182 — Richmond Hill junior Jakeem Littles (49-2) bonus-pointed his way through the tournament, with a fall, two majors and a win by injury-default in the finals over South Paulding senior Rushton Robinson (63-3). Valdosta junior Antione Scott (26-8) reached the semis and placed fourth in the tournament. Scott falled Habersham’s Tanner Wade (4:45) on Wednesday and decisioned fifth-place sophomore Connor McHugh of Cambridge, 11-5, in the quarters, but fell to Littles, 13-2, in the semis. Scott then pinned Centennial sixth-place senior Leroy Macon in 5:37 in the consi semis, but then fell to Chattahoochee senior Daniel Gladwell (38-4), 6-4, in the third-place match, with McHugh (37-16) shutting out Macon (33-16), 5-0, for fifth. Glynn’s Isa Hardy was 1-2 in the tournament, with a 15-7 major on the front side over Dunwoody’s Tyler Rush; Hardy then lost to Gladwell (4:16) in the quarters and to Macon (5-2) in WB round 2.
195 — Pettigrew and Middlebrooks both pinned their way through the tournament prior to the final, with Pettigrew taking falls over Lanier’s Sean Sadler (1:46) on Wednesday, Alexander fifth-place senior Reed Rogers (1:49) on Thursday and Grovetown fourth-place junior Michaia Green (3:38) on Friday, while Middlebrooks pinned Houston’s Thomas Swart (:11) on Wednesday, Cambridge’s Mike Hudson (:39) on Thursday and Pope third-place senior Christopher Sheahan (5:01) on Friday. Sheahan (49-9) decisioned Green (30-4), 6-3, for third place, while Dunwoody junior Charles McCown (34-10) shut out Rogers (40-24), 2-0, for fifth. Coffee’s Gatlin Smith was 1-2 in the tournament, with losses by fall to Richmond Hill’s Rickeldo Box (3:06) on the front and Stephenson’s Micah Godwin (2:40) in WB round 2 sandwiching a 4-3 WB round 1 win over Sequoyah’s Reese Ledbetter.
220 — Effingham senior Zekeil Walls (19-2) had three pins in the first period and a decision to take the championship, with his third fall requiring just 52 seconds to secure over Lee senior Maliik Jordan (54-9), the school’s new record-holder for wins and pins in a season. Jordan got to the finals with pins over Brunswick’s Ulee Mullen (3:07) on Wednesday and Stephenson’s Cahlil Silimon (2:19) on Thursday, with a 4-2 sudden-victory win over Alexander third-place senior Zach Loner in the semis. Coffee junior Cameron Arvidson placed fifth in the tournament, with all of his wins in the consi rounds. After a first-round loss to Dacula’s Jalen Cole (6-5), Arvidson won by forfeit in WB round 1, decisioned Richmond Hill’s Nick Phifer (6-3) in WB round 2 and falled Mullen (3:26) in the blood round. After losing by fall to Loner in the consi semis (4:15), Arvidson (29-10) decisioned Mundy’s Mill junior Unongo Terungwa (31-14), 7-2, for fifth, while Loner took down Creekview senior Avery Rocks (35-5), 4-1, for third. Mullen was 2-2 in the tournament, with both wins in the wrestlebacks (8-7 over Grovetown’s Xander Wulff in WB round 1, 3-2 in the ultimate-tiebreaker over Glynn’s Eugene Thomas). Thomas, in turn, was 1-2, with a front-side fall in 1:14 over Chattahoochee’s Blake Levy and going six minutes (the only one in the tournament to do so) with Walls before falling, 4-0, in the quarters.
285 — Creekview junior Eli Daugherty (57-10) had a fall and three decisions en route to the title, with the last decision an 11-4 win over Valdosta senior Demetrius Allen (36-8) in the title match. Allen reached the finals behind pins over Greenbrier’s Stone Shugarts (1:16) on Wednesday, North Atlanta’s Wesley Horton (5:21) on Thursday and Dacula’s third-place Jameel Abuziad (1:05) on Friday. Coffee sophomore Jesus Riano placed fourth in the tournament, reaching the semis with a Wednesday pin (3:02 over Hughes’ Montarius Procter) and Thursday sudden-victory win (3-1 over fifth-place Alexander sophomore Jesse Martin). After falling to Daugherty, 11-4, in the semis, Riano (42-20) downed sixth-place Lanier senior Kyle Emerson, 2-1, falling to Abuziad (32-14), 3-2, in the third-place match. Martin (46-15) also won, 3-2 (in double-overtime), over Emerson (30-14) for fifth. Brunswick’s William Abbott was 0-2 in the tournament, losing to Horton (2:47) on the front and Shugarts (5:25) in WB round 1.
Complete brackets from the tournament can be found here.
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