With the return of students from holiday breaks, the calendar hitting January in the midst of winter, the prep wrestling season heads towards it championship portion.
The Georgia High School Association Team Duals Wrestling State Championships begin Jan. 16, followed by the Traditional State Championships starting Feb. 13, both hosted at the Macon Centreplex in Macon.
Cambridge will be in the Class 6A Team Duals competition. The Bears won the Fulton County Championships Jan. 4 with Cullen Kane (113 pounds), Kyle Romano (145 pounds), Brenden Boyd (160 pounds), Evan Kurtz (170 pounds), Michael Hudson (195 pounds) and Connor McHugh (220 pounds) winning their individual divisions. Jason Romano (120 pounds), Nick Barton (152 pounds) and Julian Petty (285 pounds) were second at the competition. “We are doing well,” Bears coach Don St. James said.
Blessed Trinity will also be in the State Team Duals, competing in Class 4A. The Titans have a 30-7 record in duals competitions this season. Kevin Daniels (132 pounds), Gunner Filipowicz (145 pounds), Nick Anderson (160 pounds) and Tad Furnish (220 pounds) have each won 30 or more individual matches for Blessed Trinity this season.
“Considering that the football players who wrestle didn’t come out until after the State Championship in December, that is a very good record,” Titans coach Richard Barden said. “We have a very experienced lineup.”
Mount Pisgah Christian will be in the State Team Duals for the Class A competition.
Woodward Academy will defend its Team Duals Class 4A state championship. The War Eagles return several top wrestlers who have won individual state titles including sophomores Matthew Singleton and Michael Kilic as well as seniors Nick Masters, who is committed to Princeton, University of Pennsylvania-commit Vincent Mannella and Mccoy Pace who will attend Columbia University. Senior Malachi Wiley, a University of Pennsylvania-commit, is also on Woodward’s roster.
Woodward won the Southern Slam in Taylor, South Carolina Dec. 7, the Buford Invitational Nov. 16 and the Early Bird Duals which it hosted Nov. 9.
“Season has been great so far,” War Eagles coach Jeff Ragan said. “We’ve won many tournaments this season and have traveled around the country this season to seek out the toughest completion.”
Roswell will not be in the State Team Duals but has had a strong season as it prepares for the Traditional State Championships. David Cartier (138 pounds) and Christian Cartier (145 pounds) have each won four individual titles this season.
Mount Vernon has had several individual highlights including junior Erik Dodder winning the 182-pound competition at the Landmark Invitational in Fairburn Dec. 20. Senior Jonathan Hammond, who wrestles in the 220-pound division, and Dodder each had strong performances at the Prep Slam hosted by Holy Innocents’ in Atlanta Jan. 3.
“Erik and Jonathan were one match away from placing in a highly competitive tournament,” Mustangs coach Ryan Welch said. “As a team, we were able to place 31st out 46 teams which may not sound like a big accomplishment, but that actually place us above several area schools. Erik and Jonathan are a lock for the individual finals, and we could have some strong performances by other wrestlers such as sophomores Parker Carman and Bijan Nikain, junior Brian McWilliams and freshman Liam O’Toole. Of course, there are still a few weeks to really put in the hard work to get ready for the upcoming traditional postseason and wrestling is a highly competitive sport. With the right effort, I’m confident that any wrestler on the team could step up and place top-four.”
Lovett won the team competition at the New Manchester Tournament in Douglasville Nov. 23. Sophomore Parker Coy has won four individual competitions, freshman Alex Hyman three individual titles and senior Jeremiah Allen two individual victories at events this season.
Pace team duals event wins this season include North Atlanta, Holy Innocents’, Landmark Christian and Westminster. Top individual performers include sophomores Xavier Agostino, Sam Howe and George Blaha.
Westminster has seen strong seasons from junior Lowell Jones at 195 pounds and senior Matthew Cha in the 138-pound division. Seniors Will Dracos and Cullen Anthony have also performed well for the Wildcats.
“We have had an up and down year on the mat,” Westminster coach LB Joel said. “We have weathered several injuries and are getting healthier. We’re a very young team with many ninth and 10th grade starters and that will pay dividends later in their careers. I’m proud of our young guys for buying into what we’re building. They are hungry to put this program back on the map and understand they have to out-work their competition all year.”