Rivera leads locals at national tournament
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
June 27, 2014 04:01 AM | 1628 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera, top, is one of four local wrestlers representing the state in Oklahoma this week.
<Br>Staff file photo
Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera, top, is one of four local wrestlers representing the state in Oklahoma this week.
Staff file photo
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Local wrestlers Justan Rivera, Aslan Kilic, George Humphreys and Brandon Lin were among several competing for Team Georgia as part of the United States Amateur Wrestling Junior National Duals Championships, which began Wednesday in Oklahoma City.

The first two days featured Greco-Roman wrestling, pitting teams from different states against one another in a duals format. Thirty-two teams competed for the Greco-title.

The event will continue with freestyle wrestling today and Saturday, with 37 teams competing. Some states, such as Georgia, had two teams participating.

Twenty-four individual medals were awarded, and eight All-America plaques were handed out to the top eight teams Thursday. There were 15 weight classes, and wrestlers who posted undefeated marks garnered all-tournament accolades.

Rivera, a rising Kennesaw Mountain senior and three-time Georgia state champion, is in his third straight season with Team Georgia. He went 5-1 at 182 pounds in Greco-Roman for Georgia Blue.

“Justan was solid once again for us, like he has been every year with Team Georgia,” said Team Georgia assistant Mike Miller, who is also the head coach of Life’s wrestling program. “He had one loss, and just missed out on making the all-tournament team, but it was good for him to see that competition so he’ll be ready for (Fargo Nationals in July).”

Rivera’s accomplishments helped Georgia Blue finish fourth in Pool D at 2-2. They edged Texas Blue (35-33) in the quarterfinals before losing to Maryland (41-27) in the semifinals. Georgia topped Kansas Red (48-17) in the consolation round, but lost 41-27 to Texas Blue and qualified for the Bronze/Copper consolation pool.

Georgia Blue went on to finish fifth of eight in the Bronze/Cooper pool. It beat Washington (48-18) in the first round, but then lost 58-9 to Missouri. Georgia topped Tennessee 45-22 to qualify for the fourth-place match, where they lost 50-18 to Texas Blue once again.

Overall, Georgia Blue placed 13th of 32 teams.

“I think the team performed admirably,” Miller said. “It was a little rough at first, and we had a chance at the all-American bracket because we were pretty close right up until the end with Maryland when they started pulling away.

“We just didn’t put everything together. It’s a learning experience for us, but it helps the state to get us out here and shows us what we need to work on. We have to gear up and concentrate on Fargo. Being here shows where we’re weak at.”

Kilic, a rising junior at Wheeler who finished 1-7 at 120 pounds, also wrestled for Georgia Blue, as did Humphreys, a rising Walton senior who went 2-3 at 285.

Lin, a rising senior at Walton, went 2-5 for Georgia Red, which finished eighth in Pool B after losses to Iowa (63-7), North Carolina (47-19) and Texas Red (36-21), qualifying them for the Green/Yellow consolation pool.

Georgia lost its first-round pool match 50-16 to South Carolina and dropped the next match against Virginia (44-18). A 36-26 victory over Louisiana in the third round pushed them into the fifth-place match against Texas Red, where they dropped a 29-27 decision.

“Freestyle will be a lot tougher for everybody,” Miller said of the next round of competition. “It’s a grind. We still have a good shot at making the all-America rounds because we’re building that trust with the kids. I believe we can get it. We’ll steer them in right direction, but it will be up to them to finish.”
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