Troup shines in home meet
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Troup High wrestling team continued its season with a strong performance in the Dariel Daniel Grind last weekend.
The tournament, which is named after the legendary former Troup wrestling coach who won numerous state championships, featured six teams, including Troup, LaGrange and Callaway.
Troup won three matches, lost one, and tied another to earn a second-place finish.
While head coach Drew Garner was happy to see his wrestlers perform well, he felt the most important part of the day was giving an inexperienced team a lot of time on the mat.
“Today was making sure these kid wrestled to make sure to get the mat time they needed,” Garner said. “They got all five matches. It was a good day.”
Among Troup’s top wrestlers on Saturday was Kullum Irvin, who finished with a flawless 5-0 record.
Thomas Fuller, a senior leader on the team, went 4-0, while Elijah Ward and Franklin Jackson were both 4-1.
A handful of teams had to drop out because of quarantine procedures related to Covid-19, and Garner appreciated LaGrange jumping in to help fill out the field. The Grangers only filled about half of the lineup because of their own quarantine issues, but they still made the trip cross-town to compete.
“You talk about sending a message as a new coach during a pandemic,” Garner said. “Coach Thomas has got my respect, because he could have gracefully bowed out, but he chose to bring his guys here who aren’t quarantined to get some mat time.”
Garner will return the favor by having his wrestlers compete in LaGrange’s Gary Silva Invitational on Tuesday at Gardner Newman Middle School.
“We’re going to show our community support,” Garner said.
For LaGrange, Thomas felt it was a valuable day, even with so many of his wrestlers unavailable.
“The team scores weren’t good because we had six guys wrestling, and two guys that could wrestle exhibitions, but overall we had a really good day,” said Thomas, who is in his first season as LaGrange’s coach. “With the group that we’ve had, this was the best that we’ve wrestled this year. We’re continuing to improve, and the kids are working hard at practice. It’s getting better. We’re getting better every day.”
LaGrange’s top wrestler on Saturday was Hunter Brooks who posted a 5-0 record, while Grayson Whaley, Qua Thornton and Isaiah Coleman were each 4-1.
LaGrange will host next week’s Gary Silva Invitational, a traditional-format event where the wrestlers can compete for individual titles.
After a few more events, it’ll be time for the area duals on Jan. 15, with the top-two finishers qualifying for the state duals.
The traditional area tournament is Feb. 5, and the top-four finishers in each weight class will advance to the state sectional.
“The end of January and February, that’s when it means the most,” Thomas said. “That’s what we’re building up toward. That’s what these tournaments are for. It’s good that we’re improving. I’m just ready to get the (full) team back.”