Callaway wrestling is primed to take another step forward this season

Published 2:31 pm Thursday, November 30, 2023

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 The Callaway wrestling team is looking to take a big step forward this season. The teams in recent memory have been youthful, but this year’s team is full of experienced high-level wrestlers.

“The energy around the program is high right now,” Wrestling coach Robbie Addams said. “I’ve been coaching with the wrestling teams and I have seen the highs and lows. I’ve seen us raise our first banner in the gym in 2018 and I’ve seen us have some seasons that did not live up to expectations. This year’s team has a good energy about it and I think we can make some noise if we keep grinding.”

One of the main reasons the energy around the program is so high is the introduction of the first girls team in program history.

“This is the first time I’ve coached a team of all girls, so I’m learning as I go,” Adams said. “We had one girl on the team last year, but to have multiple girls out there on the mat is exciting, and they help set the tone at practice.”

Sophomore Harlie Foster is the only girl who is returning from last year’s team, and this season she will be focusing on wrestling only girls instead of having to wrestle members of both sexes which can be extremely taxing. While she brings the most experience to the girl’s team, Lakyn Gatens also brings some experience from her days wrestling in middle school. Gatens went 2-2 in her first high school tournament and became the first girl to place at a tournament in the history of Callaway wrestling.

“Having Lakyn place at the tournament for us has only built excitement around the team,” Adams said. “We are really young on the girls’ side with five sophomores and an eighth grader that wrestles with us right now, but that gives them a chance to grow together.”

Excitement is also building around the boy’s program. It starts with Jojo Shuman, who was ranked no. 1 in his weight class in AA in the preseason.

“There are preseason rankings and I don’t put a lot of stock into that because it puts a target on his back, and now he is going to have to work even harder, but he knows that,” Adams said. “I don’t expect anything less from him.”

He is not alone as the Cavaliers bring back a wealth of talented wrestlers.

“We have been very young the last few years, but this year we have seven to eight seniors on the team who help set the tone and maturity level,” Adams said. 

Shuman was an area champion a season ago and is joined by fellow returning area champions Elijah Copeland and Calvin Williams, both of whom have been in the program for some years now.

Those three seniors will be key figures on this year’s team, but so will juniors Christian Willaims and Jacob Shuman, who both finished as runner-ups in the area a season ago and will look to build on that campaign.

“We have a good mix of people leading, it is not just one person,” Adams said. “Everybody can be a leader here on any given day.”

The next few weeks and months will see the Cavaliers hit the mat at events all across west Georgia as they look to prepare for the important area and sectional matches that come in the new year.