Perfect tournament for Troup
By Kevin Eckleberry
They were ready for Carrollton.
The Troup Tigers marched through their first eight matches in the Dariel Daniel Grind mostly without being pushed, so they were eager to test themselves against Carrollton in the tournament finale.
It was a winner-take-all match.
The winner would be the tournament champion, while the loser would have to settle for second place.
The Tigers had no intention of settling for anything less than the championship trophy.
Troup dominated the Trojans from the get-go on the way to a 48-30 victory, and it finished the tournament with a 9-0 record.
Scott Hicks, who posted a 9-0 record with nine pins, said it was the performance he and his teammates have been waiting on.
“That’s how we’ve been wrestling in the past,” Hicks said. “Every time we wrestled, we wrestled like that. We just went out there and dominated every match. That’s what I wanted to see here against Carrollton. Finally, for the first time this season, we saw some of that Troup fire.”
Carrollton has had a strong season, and Troup head coach Craig Garner felt his team was the underdog heading in.
“They finished ahead of us at their tournament,” Garner said. “On paper, looking at their scores compared to our scores, we were the underdog. We said if we wrestle the way we’ve wrestled lately, we were going to lose by 18 to 20 points. That’s what we as coaches thought.”
The Tigers promptly went out and won their first three matches by pin, though, and they never looked back.
It helped that Troup’s top two wrestlers, Chase Seals and Hicks, were the first two men on the mat.
“That momentum’s the difference,” Garner said. “You start in the right order, and you’ve got some of your stud guys going out, and you start with pin, pin, pin. And then you’ve got a guy that’s a lesser guy, and he goes out and wrestles above his head.”
Seals, wrestling at 145 pounds, got things started with a pin with 13 seconds left in the first period.
Next up was Hicks, and he pinned his opponent midway through the second period at 152 pounds.
Graham Finlay kept the momentum going with a pin of his own in the second period in the 160-pound match, and Troup led 18-0.
After Carrollton won a match by forfeit, Quenton Kersey found himself in a dog-fight at 182 pounds.
Kersey built a 5-3 lead in the third period, and that’s the way the match ended.
Carrollton won the next match by pin, but at 220 pounds, Michael Irvin prevailed by pin in the first period to give Troup six more valuable points.
Irvin was one of Troup’s standout wrestlers with a 9-0 record.
At 285 pounds, it was Colby Harry winning by pin in the first period, and the rout continued.
Carrollton did pick up a win by forfeit and another victory by pin, but Troup won the final three matches.
At 126 pounds, Darious Hanson won by pin, and Trevor Upchurch was awarded a win by forfeit.
In the final match, Brantly Robinson won 3-2 at 138 pounds to put an exclamation point on the victory.
“Every time we’ve wrestled with Carrollton, they’ve placed higher than us,” Robinson said. “So we were prepared to have a tough match with them. We wrestled hard and won.”
Earlier on Thursday, Troup had three victories before facing Carrollton.
Against Northgate, Troup only lost one match on the way to a 58-3 victory.
In its closest match, Troup outlasted Central-Carroll 45-36, and it also beat the Troup junior-varsity team.
Troup returns on Dec. 30 for the Alexander Invitational, and it will look to defend its championship in the Area 5-AAAA dyals on Jan. 6.
“Overall the whole tournament, we peaked against Carrollton,” Hicks said. “I think it’ll be a turning point for our season, and we’ll end up doing really well because of this. I’ll be a motivator. We’ll get three days off now, get some time to rest. We’ll come back and be ready to go and get back to the grind.”