Veterans lead way for LaGrange

Published 11:01 pm Monday, December 4, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

It was a perfect day for LaGrange High’s Matthew Callaway.

Callaway, a sophomore, went 4-0 on Saturday during the Clark Rich Cradle Classic Duals that was held in the LaGrange High gym.

As a team, LaGrange went 2-2 with wins over Brookstone and Bowdon, and losses to Haralson County and Smiths Station.

Callaway walked away victorious following each of his matches, although he felt there was room for improvement.

“There were times where I wish I could have done a little bit better, to show my coach that I can do the moves correctly,” Callaway said. “But I felt I did OK today.”

It was also a successful day for two of LaGrange’s other experienced wrestlers, Dexter Fitzpatrick and Cole Everett, who each lost just once.

Another one of LaGrange’s top wrestlers, Lane Oliver, went 2-2 and lost a tough match in overtime.

It was the first competition of the season for Fitzpatrick, who recently made the transition from football to wrestling.

Fitzpatrick lost his first match of the day, but he was unbeaten after that.

“He wasn’t better than me,” Fitzpatrick said of the wrestler who beat him. “I didn’t really execute the way I should have. I couldn’t lose after that.”

It was the first varsity competition for LaGrange in two weeks, and Everett was eager to get back to work.

“Sitting at a (junior-varsity) tournament the other day watching all those guys wrestle, I really wanted to wrestle today,” Everett said.

Callaway, Fitzpatrick and Everett each have high expectations this season.

Callaway’s goal is to be one of the 16 wrestlers to qualify for the state finals.

“I would love to go to state,” said Callaway, who is also a cross-country standout at LaGrange. “I’m going to say it’s realistic, because you can beat anybody on a given day.”

Fitzpatrick participated in the state sectional last season, and he finished ninth in his weight class, leaving him one spot away from making it to the state finals.

Fitzpatrick feels that if he wrestles up to his potential, “you’ll definitely see me on the podium.”

Fitzpatrick, who enjoyed a successful season as a linebacker in football, is committed to making the most out of wrestling season.

“What you put in is what you get out,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s what I like about it.”

Fitzpatrick is also there for his teammates.

LaGrange has a lot of inexperienced wrestlers, and Fitzpatrick is always willing to lend a hand.

“If I see a freshman who doesn’t know the moves, I’ll go over and break it down for him,” Fitzpatrick said.

The same goes for Callaway, who works his teammates hard in the wrestling room.

“I try to push everybody as hard as I’d want somebody to push me,” Callaway said.

Everett is one of a handful of seniors on the team, and he’s looking to make the most of his final season.

“Last year I placed fourth at area and got put out at sectional,” Everett said. “This year I want to make it to state, and hopefully place.”

Saturday’s tournament gave a talented group of freshmen an opportunity to get a lot of time on the mat.

“All of our freshman are getting better,” Everett said. “Jacob (Anderson), he wrestled one of the 145 matches today, and he won.”

Weathers said that Jackson Bozeman was one of the freshmen who held their own on Saturday.

“Jackson Bozeman is a promising freshman with a bright future,” Weathers said.

Weathers said he was also proud of the way Charles Ray performed in the 285-pound division.

Ray was over 300 pounds at the start of preseason practice, and he needed lose about 15 pounds to be able to wrestle.

He reached that goal last week and was able to wrestle on Saturday.

Weathers said Demetrius Dean also had a solid day while fighting through an injury, and Colin Cavender was another standout for the Grangers.

In previous years, the tournament was known as the Granger Duals.

Weathers decided to change the name this year to honor Clark Rich, who died last year.

Rich led LaGrange to multiple state championships as a coach in the 80s, and he was an assistant coach under Weathers for the past several years.

“That was very special,” Callaway said of having a tournament in Rich’s honor. “I loved coach Rich and wish I could have spent more time with him.”

Smiths Station won the tournament with an unbeaten record.