Callaway hoping to secure state bid

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 8, 2016

By Kevin Eckleberry

The Callaway High wrestling team will participate in the Area 5-AAA duals on Saturday in Rome. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News Callaway High wrestling team will participate in the Area 5-AAA duals on Saturday in Rome. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

HOGANSVILLE – Coming off a series of impressive tournament performances, the Callaway High wrestling team will look to put together another strong showing in the Area 5-AAA duals on Saturday at Pepperell High School in Rome.

The Cavaliers will need to finish first or second to qualify for the state duals next week in Macon.

In their most recent tournament, the Gary Silva Invitational that was held at Gardner Newman Middle School last week, the Cavaliers finished fifth and had three individual champions.

One of those champions was sophomore Justin Kiss, who has won three consecutive tournament titles this season.

Also bringing home individual titles at the Silva tournament were Andrew Thomas and Matthew Wingate.

In the Hardaway Invitational, Kiss won a title, and while Thomas and Wingate didn’t place, they both won matches and Callaway finished 10th out of 20 teams.

In the Chattahoochee River Wrestling Association tournament, it was Kiss collecting his first title of the season, and Thomas and Wingate finished second and third, respectively.

Also earning medals at the CRWA tournament were Brandon Belton and Gabriel Liranzo.

At the Silva tournament, in addition to the three champions, Khaliq Swift finished third, and a handful of other Callaway wrestlers had solid showings.

Callaway had a top five finish in the Silva tournament despite the absence of Gabriel Liranzo and Ken Wilson, who were participating in a JROTC event, so the team could be a threat on Saturday with a full lineup.

This will be the first of two area tournaments for Callaway.

On Jan. 29, Callaway will participate in the traditional area tournament at Pepperell, and the wrestlers will have a chance to qualify for state as individuals.

It has been a successful season so far for the Cavaliers, and first-year head coach Josh Ghobadpoor said the future is bright with so many talented underclassmen, including Kiss, who placed at state last year as a freshman.

“We’re only going to go anywhere but up,” Ghobadpoor said. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Thomas, who made it to the traditional state meet as a junior last season, said everything the team has done has been about preparing for these key area and state tournament.

“(Ghobadpoor) tells us every day, every practice, every match, he’s like this is nothing but practice,” Thomas said. “(He tells us to) go out there and wrestle. Don’t worry about winning. Don’t worry about losing. Go out there and wrestle. This is practice. So that’s how I look at everything.”

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports