Ready for the big stage

By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor

February 6, 2014

Emmanuel Mann is rolling into state.

The LaGrange High wrestler made quite a statement at the Area 5-AAAA tournament when he captured the championship in the 285-pound weight class, and he beat a top-seeded wrestler from Alexander to make it happen.

Now, Mann turns his attention to the rest of the state.

The Class AAAA west sectional will be held at Fayette County today and Saturday, and there will be 16 wrestlers in each weight class.

The top eight wrestlers in each weight class will qualify for the state finals next week in Gwinnett County.

Mann will be one of eight wrestlers from LaGrange High competing in the state sectional.

Mann won all three of his matches at the area tournament, and he beat Alexander’s Jeremy Boswell in the title match.

“I went out there with confidence,” Mann said. “Coach (Scooter Weathers) told me to keep trying hard, keep going after it and you’ll win. I just believed what he said, and I did it. Basically, I feel great. This was my first time winning area, and I feel good.”

Mann is considerably lighter than he was during his freshman season, and Weathers said that has made him a more effective wrestler.

“He is much more athletic,” Weathers said. “He’s a heavyweight that can run, and can move. His hands and feet have gotten so much better.”

Mann will be joined at state by seven of his teammates, including a pair of seniors, Lew Hyers and Jacob Butler.

Butler finished second in the area tournament at 160 pounds, and Hyers was third at 195 pounds.

It will be the first state appearance for both wrestlers.

“I’m feeling confident,” Hyers said. “I placed third at area, but our area is one of the hardest in the state. I’m not too worried. I have confidence going in.”

Butler’s senior season was interrupted when he broke a few ribs during a match, but he’s good to go now.

“I’m at about 90 percent right now,” Butler said.

Butler has finished as high as fifth at the area tournament before, but that wasn’t good enough to make it to state.

“I knew this year I had to make it to sectionals and hopefully place at state,” Butler said.

Also representing LaGrange at state are Garrett Godby (120 pounds), Qua Tucker (132 pounds) and Dexter Jones (145 pounds), who each finished third at the area tournament.

Kyler Hall (138 pounds) and Guy Wegienka (182 pounds) finished fourth at area to qualify for state.

“Win two (at the sectional), and you’re in,” Weathers said. “You just have to find a place to win two. That’s all you’ve got to do. We just want to get as many of them as we can through.”