LaGrange wrestlers stand tall
By KEVIn ECKLEBERRY
They’re short-handed, but fighting hard.
The LaGrange High wrestling team, despite leaving six weight classes unfilled during Saturday’s Clark Rich Cradle Classic, went 2-1 to finish second.
LaGrange’s only loss, which was by three points, was to tournament champion Upson-Lee.
“I’m really proud,” said Hunter Brooks, one of LaGrange’s standout wrestlers. “Our team is not very big, but we still end up winning some of the matches we should not win.”
While there were eight LaGrange wrestlers at the Clark Rich tournament, five other team members were at the Pike County Pirate Invitational.
Every LaGrange wrestler who stepped onto the mat on Saturday won at least one won match.
In the Clark Rich tournament, Brooks, Matt Callaway, Grayson Whaley, Colin Cavender each won
three matches, and Ty Traylor, Asa Leath, Jacob Anderson and Austin Ccrow each won twice.
LaGrange beat McIntosh 45-12 and Heard County 30-24 and lost to Upson-Lee 42-39.
At the Pike County tournament, which featured a traditional format, Austin Skiff and D.J. Langston each went 4-1 and finished third at 120 pounds and 138 pounds, respectively.
There is only one senior on LaGrange’s teams, Matt Callaway, who is putting the finishing touches on a successful high-school career.
Callaway, a former state placer, has yet to lose a match this season, and he has set his goals high for the team, and for himself.
Callaway hopes to get to Macon not only for the individual tournament, but also for the team duals.
“Team-wise, I’d love to go (to Macon),” Callaway said. “My personal goal is to win state.”
Hunter Brooks is also unbeaten this season, and like Callaway, he’s aiming high.
“I would love to get to Macon. I was there last year,” Brooks said. “Right now I have a pretty good feeling that I’m going to make it. I’m 23-0. That is hard to do, and there are people out there that are super good, and they almost beat me, and I have respect for them. If I beat you, you’ve got my respect. If you lose, you’ve still got my respect, because if you step in that circle, that is the hardest sport.”
Saturday’s tournament at LaGrange High was in honor of Clark Rich, the former LaGrange High coach who died in 2016.
Rich was a mentor and coach for hundreds of wrestlers of the years, and he worked with a handful of the current LaGrange High team members.
Callaway was a freshman when Rich was an assistant coach at LaGrange, and it was a valuable experience.
“He taught me a lot, not only about wrestling, but life skills,” Callaway said. “He was a really good guy and I miss him.”
Clark Rich’s brother John Rich is a current member of the LaGrange High coaching staff, and he appreciates having a tournament in his brother’s honor.
“It means a lot. It’s a great thing,” Rich said. “The biggest thing is, these group of kids were the last ones he worked with (at Gardner Newman Middle School.”