Callaway wrestlers aiming high

Published 6:33 pm Thursday, November 23, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

HOGANSVILLE – There are some things large wrestling programs take for granted.

One of them is the ability to fill a lineup, but that’s something smaller teams struggle with year after year.

That’s been the case at Callaway, which has enjoyed success in wrestling but has oftentimes been unable to have a wrestler at every weight class.

Jason Boatman, Callaway’s first-year head coach, is hoping that will change this season.

“Our goal this year was to fill the lineup, and we felt if we filled the lineup we had a chance to do some things this year that we haven’t done,” said Boatman, who has taken over as head coach following the departure of Josh Ghobadpoor, who is now at Gilmer County.

The lineup will be filled with some talented wrestlers who will have opportunities to do some special things.

It’s a veteran group that includes four wrestlers who competed in the state sectional a year ago.

The Cavaliers will also be buoyed by the return of Justin Kiss, who didn’t compete as a junior after placing at state as a freshman and a sophomore.

Boatman is also appreciative of the presence of a number of newcomers, and he is very supportive of anyone who wants to give the sport a try.

“If they say they haven’t wrestled before, I don’t care,” Boatman said. “We’ll teach you.”

Among the veterans is Ken Wilson, who won an area championship before finishing third in the state tournament.

Also back are Matthew Wingate and Jabbari Fisher, who each won an area title before competing in the state sectional.

Another returnee is Jayvon Nunley, who finished second in his weight class at the area meet.

Boatman said that Jayvon Nunley and his twin brother Jalhwan Nunley have provided tremendous leadership.

“We started lifting in the offseason for the first time, and the Nunleys didn’t miss one,” Boatman said. “It was awesome. I’ve proud of those guys. Last summer was their first time wrestling. So it’s been good to see how much they’ve grown. And now they’re letting everybody know what to do, the younger ones. So that’s been good.”

Boatman’s assistants this season are Ryan Kiss, a former standout wrestler at Callaway, and Robbie Adams.

Adams is new to Callaway, and he and Boatman are both members of the football coaching staff.

“He just brings another element,” Boatman said of Adams. “He’ll bring things down here that we haven’t seen, or weren’t taught that say. So it’s another wrinkle. The guys love him.”

Boatman said he’s been encouraged by the interest shown by some of the football players who may join the team when the season ends.

Callaway is on the road against Brooks County today in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state playoffs.

“We took a hydration test a couple of weeks ago, and you never know how that’s going to go, and so we had to come the next morning, and I was kind of worried about the football players, but they said that was the most that ever came,” Boatman said. “All the football guys came, so that was encouraging that it meant something. They took the initiative, and it was guys that came in the summer a lot. So far it’s been good.”