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Troup wrestlers eye state success

Thirteen Tigers to compete in sectional

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com

Thirteen members of the Troup High wrestling team will compete in the Class AAAAA state sectional in Gilmer County on Friday. It’ll be the continuation of what has been a strong season for the Tigers. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/02/web1_troup1-1.jpgThirteen members of the Troup High wrestling team will compete in the Class AAAAA state sectional in Gilmer County on Friday. It’ll be the continuation of what has been a strong season for the Tigers. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

Troup assistant coach Carson Dempsey talks to the wrestlers before the start of practice on Tuesday. Troup is coming off a strong performance in the area tournament at Woodward Academy. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/37/2016/02/web1_troup2-1.jpgTroup assistant coach Carson Dempsey talks to the wrestlers before the start of practice on Tuesday. Troup is coming off a strong performance in the area tournament at Woodward Academy. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

LAGRANGE – They’re not satisfied.

It has been, unequivocally, a successful season for the Troup High wrestling team, which will be sending 13 wrestlers to the Class AAAAA state sectional on Friday in Gilmer County.

At a school with such an extraordinary wrestling tradition, though, the team members are always striving for more.

“We’re proud of where we are, but then again, there’s a sense of aspiring for greatness,” said sophomore Scott Hicks, who placed second at last weekend’s area tournament. “Everybody in this room knows that sure we’re doing good, sure we’re better than we were two years ago, but there’s a point we want to reach, and we’re not even close to that.”

While the Tigers aren’t where they want to be, there is still plenty to be proud of, especially in light of the strong showing at the area tournament.

There were 14 Troup wrestlers competing in the tournament at Woodward Academy, and 13 of them finished fourth or higher in their weight class to qualify for the state sectional.

Now, the goal for each of those men is to advance to the state finals next week.

At the sectional, there will be 16 competitors in each weight division, and the top eight finishers will move on to the state finals.

For Hicks and the rest of the Troup wrestlers, it’s all about getting through to next week.

“Really, this isn’t the payoff, state’s the payoff,” Hicks said. “I’m not as excited as I am determined, and focused and ready for this weekend.”

Brantly Robinson, a sophomore who is making a second straight trip to the state sectional, said every match is critical now.

“I’m going to try my best, and treat each match like it’s my last, because it could be,” Robinson said.

The Tigers would like to duplicate the success they had at the area competition.

Among Troup’s qualifiers from the area tournament were Chase Seals and Teddy Harris, who each won an individual championship.

Seals, a sophomore, has won back-to-back area titles, and how he’s looking to make a second consecutive trip to the state finals.

“I’m very confident,” Seals said. “I feel like I can be in the finals. I know I can do it.”

Seals has had a dominant season, and he overwhelmed each of his opponents to make it back-to-back area titles, not that he was doing a whole lot of celebrating.

“I’m not satisfied,” Seals said. “I’m not going to be content with that. I’m still hungry.”

Harris gave the Tigers their other area title, and he knocked off the top seed to make it happen.

At the area duals, those same two wrestlers faced off, and Harris came up short, but he learned, and he was ready for the rematch.

“He beat me at the area duals,” Harris said. “I learned he’s an aggressive wrestler. I took that into account with my counters and stuff. I put everything together.”

Buoyed by his championship-winning showing, Harris is ready to take on the state’s best wrestlers.

“I’m feeling confident,” he said. “As long as I keep putting everything together, and keep doing what I’m supposed to do I’ll be successful.”

Among Troup’s second-place finishers was Hicks, who lost to an opponent he’d beaten earlier in the season.

It was a rare blemish on what has been a terrific season for Hicks, who is a relative newcomer to the sport.

Hicks didn’t begin wrestling until he was a freshman, and he was on the junior-varsity team last season.

A year later, Hicks is an invaluable member of the lineup, and he has one of the team’s best win-loss records.

“I feel like I’m a natural at wrestling. It clicks with me,” Hicks said. “Whenever (the coaches) shows us moves, shows us how to do stuff, I understand it. It makes sense what he’s saying, the way he teaches it.”

Also finishing second for Troup was senior Hudson Newton, who fell in double overtime in the championship match.

“We went to double overtime, and they called me for locking hands,” Newton said. “He was trying to stand up, and they said I locked my hands. I held him down the rest of the period, but he won because he got that point. But it turned out good from me, because I’m on the opposite of the bracket from a kid who’s really good.”

For Newton, this is the end of the road.

He is the only one of Troup’s 13 sectional qualifiers who is a senior, and he’ll be looking to go out with a bang.

A year ago, Newton made it to the state finals and finished fifth.

“I wish I would have dropped down to 220. I probably could have gone really far at 220,” Newton said. “But I think I got on the good side of the bracket. I should have a lot of success.”

Two other Troup wrestlers, Colby Harry and Trevor Upchurch, each reached the championship round at the area tournament before falling short.

Troup’s third-place finishers at area were Jeremiah McClendon and Byron Butts, and Steven McClendon, Robinson, Dre Flagg, Quenton Kersey and Colton Greathouse each finished fourth to make it to the sectional.

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