LaGrange hosting wrestling tournament

Published 10:50 pm Thursday, December 28, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

For years, Gary Silva was a fixture on the local wrestling scene.

The Columbus resident was a well-known referee who was best known for the flamboyant manner in which he would call a pin.

Silva would launch himself into the air, and he’d return to earth and slap his hand on the mat, and the sound reverberated through the gym.

Sadly, Silva died in the spring of 2012, and he left behind countless friends and colleagues in the wrestling world.

One of those friends was LaGrange coach Scooter Weathers, who knew Silva well.

After Silva’s death, Weathers looked for a way to honor his friend, and the obvious way was to name a tournament after him.

The fifth edition of the Gary Silva Invitational will be held today at Gardner Newman, and LaGrange and Callaway will be among the teams participating.

The other teams are Bowdon, Columbus, Central-Carroll, Whitewater, Pike County, Northgate, Heard County, Villa Rica, and Oxford (Ala).

The tournament was originally going to be held today and Saturday, but since some teams had to drop out, the decision was made to shorten it to one day.

“It’ll be a good field,” Weathers said. “Oxford’s the front-runner. We wrestled them a couple of weeks ago, and wrestled them tough. We had some guys sick and banged up and out of the lineup, and they’re back in now. So I’m kind of anxious to see where we’re going to be.”

LaGrange has long held a tournament after Christmas, and in 2013 it became the Gary Silva Invitational.

“He was just a good man,” Weathers said of Silva. “They don’t make a lot like him anymore. He had such a big heart. He didn’t meet a stranger in the gym. My little 7-year-old, my little boy, he was about 2-years-old crawling on the mat, and I remember Gary rolling around with him, just playing with him. That’s the kind of guy he was.”

Silva was 49 when he unexpectedly died in April of 2012, and he was well-known in the Columbus community.

“He was like the wrestling icon down there,” Weathers said. “He helped a lot of kids. He didn’t care where they went to school. He was all about helping those kids.”

This will be LaGrange’s first traditional-format tournament.

LaGrange was supposed to participate in the Chattahoochee River Wrestling Association tournament, but that event was canceled because of a winter storm.

“They get to wrestle for themselves,” Weathers said. “So they’re excited about it, and I am too to see how we do in this type of format.”

Next up for LaGrange will be the Area 5-AAAA duals on Jan. 6 in Cedartown.

“Dual-meet wise, we’re about a year away,” Weathers said. “We’re young. We’ve got a lot of young ones that fight hard, and compete hard. We’re learning.”

Weathers is hoping a strong performance today will serve as a springboard into the area duals.

“If we were to place top four here as a team, that would be a big accomplishment,” Weathers said. “It would be something real positive to lean on going into the area duals.”