Wrestling season winding down
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The grind continues.
The Callaway, LaGrange and Troup wrestling teams, who shared the mat on Tuesday for the county championship, will get back to work on Saturday as they gear up for their respective traditional area tournaments coming up in a little more than a week.
While Callaway and LaGrange will be at the Bowdon Invitational on Saturday, Troup will travel to McDonough for the Last Man Standing tournament.
That will serve as a tune-up for the traditional area tournaments.
LaGrange and Troup will compete in the Area 5-AAAA tournament on Feb. 1 at Central-Carroll, and Callaway will participate in the Area 4-AAAA tournament on Feb. 2 at Bremen.
The top four finishers in each weight class at the area tournaments will advance to the state sectionals.
The top finishers from the sectionals qualify for the season-ending state finals in Macon.
The short-handed Troup Tigers, who were unable to fill four weight classes in the county championship, appear well-positioned to do some damage in the area tournament.
While the Tigers struggle in head-to-head matchups because of the forfeits, they have a number of outstanding wrestlers who could end up in Macon for the state finals.
Including in that group are three men, Darious Hanson, Pearson Strickland and Colby Harry, who placed at last year’s state meet.
“I think we’re going to have some state placers, maybe even a state champion,” Troup coach Tripp Busby said. “I’m really looking forward to how they compete at area, and on to sectionals.”
LaGrange will look to continue the momentum after winning the county championship.
After competing at Bowdon Saturday, LaGrange will host a dual on Monday, and the team’s two seniors will be honored.
While LaGrange has a few veteran wrestlers, including junior Matt Callaway who placed at state a year ago, it’s a mostly inexperienced squad.
Those young wrestlers appear to be peaking at the right time as the Grangers prepare for this critical time of the season.
“We’ve gotten a whole lot better since the beginning of the season,” said Charles Ray, who wrestles at 285 pounds.
Callaway is riding high after earning a top-10 finish at the Class AA state duals last week.
Callaway followed that up by beating Troup and nearly upending LaGrange in the county championship.
The county meet put the cap on a busy few days for the Cavaliers, who wrestled in Macon on Thursday and Friday.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” Callaway head coach Jason Boatman said.
While the Cavaliers were disappointed to come up short after nearly winning the county title, Boatman made sure to let them know how proud he was of what they accomplished.
“(Losing to LaGrange) took something out of them. That was tough,” Boatman said. “I had to look at them and tell them, as bad as that hurts, you accomplished something today you haven’t done before. You beat Troup. We were in position to win the county championship.”
Among the men who have led the way for the Cavaliers this season are Anthony Elliott and Laquize Gilbert, who both won individual championships in the Gary Silva Invitational in December.