LaGrange wins county title
By kevin eckleberry
It came down to the last match.
The Callaway Cavaliers and LaGrange Grangers took turns launching hay-makers during their showdown in the county wrestling championship on Tuesday night.
After Callaway’s Anthony Taylor got a critical pin at 113 pounds to get his team within three, the 120-pounders sauntered onto the mat with the county championship up for grabs.
In a hard-fought match, it was LaGrange’s Hunter Brooks securing a 16-6 victory 0ver Korbin Browning to give his team the 43-34 win.
Paired with an earlier team victory over Troup, the win over Callaway gave LaGrange the county title.
Callaway opened the festivities by beating Troup for the first time ever, and LaGrange then handled Troup to set up the championship showdown.
“We have a lot of people pushing us, a lot of people pushing themselves,” said LaGrange’s Matt Callaway, who won both of his matches on Tuesday. “It just worked out.”
While the Cavaliers were disappointed to come up short, it was nonetheless a successful night.
Coming off a top-10 finish at the Class AA state duals in Macon, Callaway earned a breakthrough win over Troup before pushing LaGrange to the limit.
“This is a big deal. We take pride in it,” Callaway coach Jason Boatman said. “I don’t think they could have fought any harder. They gave it everything they had. That shows how much it meant to them.”
It was the second time Callaway and LaGrange wrestled this season, and both matches came down to the wire.
In the championship match of the Callaway Classic, LaGrange earned a close win after Callaway had to forfeit the final two matches.
In the rematch, Callaway pushed LaGrange to the limit once again before falling short.
“I’m tickled to death for Callaway, I really am,” LaGrange coach Scooter Weathers said. “They’ve worked hard to get the program where it is. My hats off to them. It was a dog fight.”
Troup has had a difficult time filling weight classes, and it was unable to overcome that on Tuesday. The Tigers were unable to fill four weight classes, and that resulted in four forfeits that were worth six points apiece.
The Tigers do have a number of outstanding wrestlers who could be poised to do some big things in the coming weeks.
Troup and LaGrange will participate in the traditional area tournament on Feb. 2, with the top four finishers in each class qualifying for the state sectional.
Among Troup’s wrestlers are two men, Darious Hanson and Pearson Strickland, who placed at state last season.
“I think we’re going to have some state placers, maybe even a state champion,” Troup head coach Tripp Busby said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how they compete at area, and on to sectionals.”
After LaGrange and Callaway got past Troup, they locked horns for the county title.
They opened at 126 pounds, with Ladarious Williams winning by pin to give Callaway the early 6-0 lead.
Next up was the 132-pound match, and Callaway’s Jakwon Nunley won by decision to keep the momentum going.
Needing a win to turn the momentum, LaGrange got it when Matt Callaway got a pin at 138 pounds to put his team on the board.
Colin Cavender won by decision at 145 pounds, and Jacob Anderson followed with a pin at 152 pounds to give LaGrange three wins a row and the lead.
Laquize Gilbert got Callaway back on track with a pin at 160 pounds, and LaGrange had to forfeit the 170-pound match to Curmondre Bray.
Callaway’s Anthony Elliott followed with a pin at 182 pounds, and LaGrange’s RJ Haley gave his team a much-needed six points with a pin at 195 pounds.
LaGrange also won the next two matches, with Christian Whaley securing a pin at 220 pounds, and Charles Ray getting a tough 6-2 victory over Lathan Patterson at 285 pounds.
Ray said his goal was “to be aggressive, and hit my moves perfectly.”
Next on the mat were the 106-pounders, and LaGrange’s Isaiah Coleman won by pin in the second period.
Trailing by six points with two matches to go, Callaway knew it had to get a win at 113 pounds to stay alive.
Freshman Anthony Taylor came through for Callaway.
Taylor has won matches before this season, but they were all by forfeits.
For the first time, Taylor won a match against another opponent, and when he got the pin, his coaches and teammates celebrated, knowing they still had hope.
“He’s a freshman, he’s young, he works hard, and he hasn’t won a match before,” Boatman said. “They were happy for him, and that was a match that got us within three going to the last.”
With one match to go, everything was up for grabs, and LaGrange’s Hunter Brooks was ready for the challenge.
“I had so many people counting on me,” Brooks said. “I had to win.”
Brooks took the lead from the start, and he never lost control to get the clinching victory.
In the day’s first match between Callaway and Troup, the victorious Cavaliers got wins on the mat from Korbin Browning, Troy Helton, Laquize Gilbert, Curmondre Bray, Austin Thomas, and Cameron Key, Anthony Taylor, Anthony Elliott each won by forfeit.
Troup’s winners were Pearson Strickland, Mason Lumpkin, Darious Hanson, Kullum Irvin, Riley Bowles and Gabe Hubbard.
Next up, it was LaGrange beating Troup 46-29.
LaGrange’s Asa Leath, Matt Callaway, Colin Cavender, Alec Morrissette won their matches on the mat, and Isaiah Coleman, Austin Skiff, and Jacob Anderson won by forfeit.
Troup’s winners were Pearson Strickland, Darious Hanson, Cameron Clements, Riley Bowles and Colby Harry.
There was a double forfeit at 170 pounds.
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