Strong showing for Troup wrestlers

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, January 17, 2018


By Kevin Eckleberry

It says a lot about how far the Troup wrestling program has come that a fourth-place finish at state was a bit of a disappointment.

The Tigers came into this year’s Class AAAA state duals in Macon believing they had a great chance to reach the championship match.

Troup came close, but it dropped a close one to Gilmer County in the semifinals on Friday.

Troup then went 1-1 on Saturday to finish fourth at state for the second consecutive season.

“It was great to place again, to finish in the top four, but at the same time it was disappointing,” Troup head coach Craig Garner said. “In the semifinals, I felt we were good enough to beat Gilmer, and we were one match away.”

Gilmer County beat Troup 32-27, and it went on to lose to Jefferson 36-19 in the championship match.

“We had three matches that we lost, that I felt we were good enough to win,” Garner said. “And we had two guys that got pinned, had they not got pinned we would have won. We were good enough to be in the finals. We had a good enough bracket to make it to the finals.”

Still, it was a successful tournament for the Tigers, who went 3-2 and came within one close loss of wrestling for a state championship.

Troup opened with a 75-6 victory over Columbus before thumping Woodward Academy 47-18 in the second round.

The win over Woodward Academy was particularly satisfying since those two teams went back-and-forth during the seed meeting as far as who should be seeded third.

Troup won that argument, and Woodward Academy then pushed to be seeded sixth so it wouldn’t have to face Jefferson until the championship match.

“It was very sweet to wrestle them and have that match over them,” Garner said. “They were fighting for the two seed, and then it got a little chippy for the three seed, so they dropped to six. To run the table on them was very gratifying.”

After the tough loss to Gilmer County, Troup beat Marist 69-12 on Saturday, assuring itself of no worse than a fourth-place finish.

In the third-place match, a stout West Laurens team that hung tough with Jefferson in the semifinals beat Troup 45-24.

“They matched up well with us, and they beat us,” Garner said.

All of Troup’s wrestlers fared well in the tournament, and that included Quenton Kersey and Pearson Strickland, who each went 5-0.

Kersey wrestled mostly at 170 pounds, although he wrestled up to 182 pounds against Woodward Academy.

Strickland was at 113 pounds for each of his five matches.

Chase Seals, who finished second in his weight class at the traditional state meet last season, went 4-0 at the state duals wrestling at 145 and 152 pounds.

Brantly Robinson (132 pounds), Cade Garner (138 pounds), Scott Hicks (152 pounds), Byron Butts (195 pounds), Michael Irvin (220 pounds) and Trevor Upchurch (126 pounds) each went 4-1, and Graham Finlay (160 pounds) and Colby Harry (285 pounds) were 3-2.

Darious Hanson went 2-2, and Kameron Clements and Thomas Fuller each won a match.

With the state duals in the rearview mirror, Troup still has a lot of wrestling remaining this season.

Troup was supposed to defend its title in the county championship on Tuesday, but it was postponed because of weather.

Troup will compete in the Last Man Standing tournament in Henry County on Saturday before competing in the Area 5-AAAA traditional tournament at LaGrange on Jan. 27.

After that are the state sectionals followed by the season-ending state finals.

“We get through with the state duals, and we practice the next day,” Garner said. “We practiced Sunday, and we practiced twice on Monday to get our guys ready. It didn’t matter if it was the county championship, or whoever we’re wrestling. We’ll get our guys prepared, get them ready, and get