011520_MNS_MV_Jonathan_Hammond Jonathan Hammond

Mount Vernon wrestler Jonathan Hammond, right, battles an opponent during a match earlier this season.

With students returning from their holiday breaks, the prep wrestling season is heading toward its schedule’s championship portion.

The Georgia High School Association (GHSA) team duals state championships begin Jan. 16, followed by the traditional state championships starting Feb. 13, both at the Macon Centreplex in Macon.

Woodward swept the Class 4A team duals and traditional state championships in 2019. 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.”

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 (220) and Dodder each had strong performances at the Prep Slam hosted by Holy Innocents’ 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 placed 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 (in the) 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 meets 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 (195) and senior Matthew Cha (138). 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 L.B. 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 outwork their competition all year.”

The highlight of Riverwood’s season to date was having three wrestlers (seniors Tim Stewart, Ronan Quigley and Mick McQuary) place at the Santa Slam Tournament hosted by South Forsyth in Cumming Dec. 7.

Marist saw senior Carson Hess (145) win his division at the Denmark Tournament in Alpharetta Dec. 21. Other top performers for the War Eagles have been senior Joseph Termini along with sophomores Thomas Termini and Nolan Pozzobon.

“We have a very young team with three seniors and 23 underclassmen,” Marist coach Riddick Beebe said. “Because of this, we have been wrestling in more individual events than we have in the past, but recently we have focused on dual competition to give our younger wrestlers a taste of what dual competition feels like.”

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