Troup seniors stand tall
By Kevin Eckleberry
It’s their final go-around.
The Troup wrestling program has enjoyed a revival over the past four years, and a steadfast group of seniors are a big reason why.
Brantly Robinson, Chase Seals, Scott Hicks, Trevor Upchurch, Quenton Kersey and Byron Butts have helped lead the Troup program back to prominence.
Last season, the Tigers enjoyed one of their best seasons in more than a decade.
Troup finished fourth in the state duals, and four members of the team placed at the traditional state tournament in February.
On Tuesday, the six seniors were honored during a ceremony in the school’s gym, and Troup then went out and beat Shaw and Smiths Station.
Robinson, who placed sixth in the state meet last season, said “it’s real special” to enjoy one final season with his fellow seniors.
“We’ve been together since middle school,” Robinson said. “We grew up together and we’re all best friends. We love each other.”
One of the other seniors, Seals, has placed at state multiple times, and he finished second last season.
Hicks is coming off a third-place finish at last season’s state meet, while Butts finished fourth at state.
Upchurch has rebounded nicely from an injury that cut his junior year short, and Kersey is having a strong season and he won both of his matches by pin on Tuesday.
Troup coach Drew Garner said the seniors are using their knowledge to help the younger wrestlers as well.
“One or two days a week, we’re putting our seniors with the freshmen, letting them drill for 30 to 45 minutes,” Garner said. “The results are amazing.”
Carson Dempsey, another one of Troup’s coaches, said the seniors provide leadership in the wrestling room during practice.
The coaches felt the effort against Smiths Station could have been better, so it was a particularly tough practice on Wednesday, and the seniors were ready.
“What helps us is that group of seniors, they now know the expectations,” Dempsey said. “They know that what happened last night is below expectations.”
Brad Nixon, another one of Troup’s coaches, said the wrestlers responded well during the grueling practice.
“When something happens and we’re not exactly pleased with it, they respond,” Nixon said. “They respond the way you want them to.”
Moving forward, Nixon said “we have to find a way to keep the fire lit, every match.”
It helps to have team leaders like Robinson, who went straight from the football field to the wrestling mat.
Robinson has picked up right where he left off last season, and he was dominant in both of his matches on Tuesday.
“In the offseason, I stayed conditioned so I’d be ready,” Robinson said.
Robinson also plays baseball, so he doesn’t have much free time during the school year.
“You just get used to it,” Robinson said. “If I do get a week off, it’s not the same. I’m not used to it.”
In Tuesday’s matches, Troup opened with a one-sided win over Shaw before beating Shaw 45-33.
In the Shaw match, seven Troup wrestlers won their matches on the mat, and there were also a handful of forfeits.
Seals, Hicks, Kersey, Butts, Graham Finlay and Colby Harry each won by pin, and Robinson won 18-3.
It was a lot tighter against Smiths Station.
Winners for Troup were Pearson Strickland, Darious Hanson, Upchurch, Robinson, Hicks, Finlay, Kersey and Butts.
Troup will be in Carrollton on Saturday for the Trojan War Duals.