LILBURN, Ga. — Two wrestlers from the Fort Benning Knights wrestling club took fourth place in their weight class Saturday at the Georgia Big Kids State Wrestling Championships at Parkview High School. Benning Fielding took fourth in the 65-pound weight class, and Josh McAlister took fourth in the 120-pound class.
Head coach Ben Fielding said the club sent six wrestlers to the tournament.
“I think Fort Benning has only had about seven kids place in state since 2004, so having two place this year is pretty good,” he said. “At this tournament, there are 793 kids and having two guys place in the top four of their weight classes is pretty respectable.
“This is the first time we’ve brought six kids for this, and we have five more next week (Little Kids State). Bringing 11 kids to state is a good year, and that’s more than anybody else in Columbus.”
David Heryford, Tony Morales, Colin Mulvany and Heath Suich were the other four on the squad who made it to the tournament.
The day began for the wrestlers around 8:30 a.m., and Benning and McAlister finished around 6:30 p.m. Both wrestlers made it deep into their brackets before losing in the late afternoon, which sent them to a consolation bracket to battle for third place.
“Benning and Josh did well today,” Ben Fielding said. “Any time you get someone in the top four is good. There are somewhere around 2,000 to 3,000 wrestlers in the state, and this tournament doesn’t have divisions like high school.
Benning and McAlister each said they believed they should have won their final matches.
“Before the match, I got sick and I couldn’t wrestle to my best,” McAlister said. “I should have done better. I think I could have beat the last guy if I was up to par.”
McAlister said he has qualified for state each year he has wrestled, but had been unable to participate in the tournament until this year.
Benning, meanwhile, has also qualifed for state each year he has wrestled and placed in the top four two other times.
Benning narrowly defeated his opponent in the consolation semifinal. After digging himself an early 2-0 hole, he came back to win the match 3-2.
In the third-place match, Benning was pinned.
“I did better than last year,” he said. “I didn’t place in many tournaments last year. But I know I could have done better.”
The Little Kids State Wrestling Championship will be Saturday at Milton High School in Milton, Ga.