Grangers hope to reclaim title

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

January 20, 2014

The LaGrange Grangers are ready to bring the county championship back to their school.

A year ago, the Grangers were looking to make it four county titles in a row, but they were beaten by the Troup Tigers 42-28.

After going up 13-0, things came unraveled for the Grangers as the Tigers charged back for the victory.

Today, LaGrange will get a chance to avenge that loss.

LaGrange, Troup and Callaway will vie for the county championship at LaGrange High.

First up at 4:30 p.m., Long Cane, Gardner Newman and Callaway Middle School will compete for the middle-school championship.

The varsity event is set to begin at 5:30 p.m.

LaGrange and Callaway will wrestle first, and Troup and Callaway will then wrestle.

In the final match, LaGrange and Troup will likely meet for the title.

Callaway has several strong wrestlers, but it doesn’t have the overall depth of LaGrange and Troup.

Many of the current LaGrange wrestlers were a part of last year’s team that walked away disappointed after the county championship.

“We’re ready for it. We’re very excited, and we’re very confident in what we’ve got to do, beat whoever we’ve got to beat,” said junior Dexter Jones, who has had a strong season and is coming off a second-place performance in last weekend’s Smiths Station Invitational. “We’ve been working really hard, coming in on Sundays, and really trying our best to improve in every area.”

Turner Duke said a key for the Grangers will be not letting the intensity of the moment get the best of them.

“The atmosphere is just crazy compared to what we usually have,” Duke said. “You just get in a zone, and just wrestle.”

Junior Guy Wegienka, who has had a big season that included a championship at the Gary Silva Invitational and a runner-up finish at the Smiths Station Invitational, said he feels “really confident this year about going and taking it back.”

In last year’s meet, LaGrange was ahead 28-18 with four matches to go, but it didn’t win another match.

Troup won the final four matches, all by pin.

“When it starts going, momentum’s hard to stop sometimes,” LaGrange coach Scooter Weathers said. “If something bad happens, don’t panic. Just go out and win the next one and even things up.”

LaGrange is coming off a strong performance in the Smiths Station Invitational.

The Grangers finished seventh out of 18 games, and they were just a few points away from finishing fourth.

Jones, Wegienka and Kyler Hall each earned second-place finishes, and Emmanuel Mann finished fourth.

“It was a good tournament. It was tough,” Weathers said. “It was like a mini state tournament. It’s one of the toughest tournaments you can go to.”

After today’s meet, LaGrange will be back on the mat this weekend for the Bowdon Invitational.

On Monday, LaGrange will host Heard County and Newnan on senior night, and on Feb. 1, it’ll be time for the traditional Area 5-AAAA tournament.

The top four finishers in each weight class at the area tournament will advance to the state sectionals.

From now until the area tournament, Weathers said “you just drill, polish stuff up, get everybody healthy. That’s the main thing.”