Troup wrestling team claims tourney win

Published 12:26 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – They’d come so close to bringing home a championship.

In their first two tournaments this season, the Troup Tigers lost a total of two matches, but they had to watch another group of wrestlers celebrate a championship.

In their third tournament, the Tigers broke through.

Participating in a dual-format tournament in Carrollton, Troup posted a 5-0 record, and it beat the host Carrollton Trojans in the final match.

After two close calls, Troup had a championship trophy.

“It felt pretty good,” said Chase Seals, one of four Troup wrestlers who went 4-0. “That’s the first time we won one in about three years. It felt pretty good to finally win one.”

Troup, Northwest Whitfield and Carrollton each won their respective pools with 3-0 records.

Troup then got a big 36-33 win over a strong Northwest Whitfield team, and it wrapped up the title with a 40-33 victory over Carrollton.

In pool competition, Troup beat Chattooga 57-17, Pepperell 53-28, and Bob Jones 48-34.

The win over Northwest Whitfield was a critical one.

Just two seasons ago, Northwest Whitfield wrestled for a state championship in the dual-format tournament, and it remains an elite team.

Last season, Troup wrestled Northwest Whitfield and lost a close one, and head coach Craig Garner was confident the outcome would be a different one this year.

“I felt like we should beat them,” Garner said. “We wrestled them last year, and I think we ended up losing by one or two points. It was very close, and I felt like we should have beat them then. I feel like we’ve improved as much as anybody in the state from one year to the next. So I felt like we should have won that match.”

After beating Northwest Whitfield, there was still work to do.

Troup had beaten Carrollton handily in a match earlier this season.

The rematch was more competitive, but the day belonged to Troup.

“It felt pretty good breaking through,” said Trevor Upchurch, who was 5-0 on Saturday. “It was a big turning point for the team.”

In addition to Upchurch and Seals, Scott Hicks, Darius Hanson, Byron Butts and Quenton Kersey each went 5-0,  Brantly Robinson was 4-1, Cade Garner was 3-1, and Jordan Shaw won a match.

Seals and Upchurch are having tremendous seasons with just two losses between them.

Upchurch is 17-1, and Seals is 18-1.

Upchurch was sixth at last season’s state meet, and he said “I’m looking to win it this year.”

Seals made a strong run at a state championship a year ago and finished third, and he’s looking like a title contender this season, although he feels there’s plenty of work to do.

“I’m not where I want to be, but I’m doing pretty good,” Seals said.

Troup began the season by going 4-1 in the East Coweta Duals, and it followed that up with another 4-1 performance in the Hiram Duals.

Troup also went 3-0 during a four-team match at Smiths Station before running the table in Carrollton last weekend.

Troup is riding high with a 16-2 record heading into the Chattahoochee River Wrestling Association tournament on Saturday at Alexander High.

“From every year I’ve been here, I feel like this is the best team we’ve had,” Robinson said.

Seals also feels this team has plenty of upside, although he stressed that there is plenty of work to do.

“We’ve got the potential,” Seals said. “We’ve got to find our work ethic. We’re not working as hard as we need to be right now. But we’ve got the potential to be really good, we’ve just got to work harder.”