By Kevin Eckleberry Sports Editor
February 11, 2014
Callaway’s Brandon Sutton was happy to find a place on the podium at last year’s state wrestling meet.
After not placing as a sophomore, Sutton wrestled his way to a fourth-place finish a year ago.
Sutton is setting his sights a lot higher this time around, though.
Coming off a third consecutive area championship, and a first-place finish at last weekend’s state sectional, Sutton is hoping to be the last-man standing at this year’s state meet.
Sutton will be one of eight Class AAA wrestlers vying for the top spot in the 285-pound division at the state meet that will be held Friday and Saturday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
“From last year, just placing, I started thinking I could take that step, make that leap and be the first champion from Callaway High School,” Sutton said. “That’s my dream.”
It is certainly a realistic goal for Sutton, who has had an exceptional career, and a dominant senior season.
He has only lost a handful of matches, and they came against some of the state’s best wrestlers.
“His only losses were to really dominant guys,” Callaway coach Ben Bone said.
Two of Sutton’s three losses came in his first tournament when he had just joined the wrestling team after the conclusion of football season.
Since then, Sutton has been close to untouchable, and he was unbeaten in the area tournament and the state sectional.
“When I set up the schedule, it was what can I do to find competition for Brandon,” Bone said. “What can I do to make Brandon be at the level he needs to be at this time of year. He’s ready.”
Sutton’s football season ended when the Cavaliers lost to Buford in the semifinals of the state playoffs.
Bone gave Sutton all of one day to rest before getting him in the wrestling room to begin practice.
“He missed that first day, and I called him and told him, today is the only day,” Bone said. “I said you have to be here Tuesday. You’ve got a tournament this weekend, and if you want to be where you want to be on Valentine’s Day, you better be here. The only days he’s had off were that day and his recruiting trip (to Kennesaw State).”
Sutton, who was a standout offensive lineman for the Cavaliers, needed a little while to get where he needed to be in wrestling.
“Coming from football, it’s different in terms of endurance, a certain type of conditioning,” Sutton said. “Coming in from football you’re thinking you’re in shape, and you realize you’re not even close, you’re not ready to go yet.”
That was more than two months ago, and Sutton is fine form now.
At the state sectional last weekend, Sutton made it to the championship match, and he won in overtime.
It was tied 1-1 through regulation, and Sutton had a takedown in overtime to win it.
“I feel I wrestled well in all the matches at the sectional, but I feel I could have done better in the finals,” Sutton said.
Whatever happens this weekend, it has been an exceptional 2013-2014 school year for Sutton.
During the football season, he was one of the leaders on a team that had the best season in school history, and now he’s making a run at a state championship in wrestling.
“Coming from that great (football) season we had, and this this (wrestling) season, it’s been fun,” Sutton said.