Four teams from the Columbus area qualified for the Georgia High School Association 2019 state duals championships. Here’s how did in last week’s double-elimination competition at the Macon Centreplex.
In the 16-team Class AAAAA tournament, the Harris County Tigers beat Decatur 51-29 then lost to defending state champion and eventual runner-up Buford 56-15. In the losers bracket, the Tigers beat Walnut Grove 47-33 then lost to Locust Grove 38-28.
In the 16-team Class AAAA tournament, the Columbus Blue Devils lost 42-31 to Cartersville in the first round. In the losers bracket, the Blue Devils lost 36-34 to Madison County.
In the 12-team Class AA tournament, after receiving a bye in the first round, the Spencer Greenwave lost to Pepperell 44-36. In the losers bracket, the Greenwave beat Harlem 67-12 then lost to Vidalia 41-30.
In the 12-team Class A tournament, the Chattahoochee County Panthers lost in the first round to Mount Pisgah 49-30. In the losers bracket, ChattCo lost to Mount de Sales 66-10.
Leading the Tigers at the state duals with three wins were junior Jackson McNeil (132 pounds), senior Cohen Perry (182), senior Isaiah Bolin (195), freshman Oran Decker Jr. (106), sophomore Tucker Kinsaul (120) and senior Jacob Schrenk (152). Winning two matches were sophomore David Emfinger (170) and sophomore Grant Monroe (138). Winning one match were senior Maverick Crownhart-Swan (160), freshman Wyatt Ervin (132), freshman Garrett Wood (126) and freshman Logan Emfinger (113).
“We have a relatively young team,” said Harris County coach Alex Moore, “and to go out and perform like our freshmen and sophomores did was very impressive.”
The only loss for Decker, a freshman ranked No. 2 in Class AAAAA at 106, was a 9-4 decision to No. 1 Nick Corday, a Buford freshman. The only loss for Kinsaul, a sophomore ranked No. 5 in Class AAAAA at 120, was to senior Logan Ashton of Buford, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA at 113 and committed to Stanford.
Noting that the Tigers “gave up too many pins for our liking throughout the weekend,” Moore added, “We need to do a better job about fighting off our back.”
As the runner-up in Region 1-AAAAA, this was Harris County’s third straight trip to the state duals — the only times in school history. The Tigers are 29-5 this season and 55-9 the past two seasons.
Leading the Blue Devils at the state duals with two wins were junior Austin Bell (113 pounds), junior Robert Mulvany (138 and 145) and senior Marcellous Bankston (170). Winning one match were sophomore Sean Mulvany (106), senior Charles Douglas (120), junior Brian Moore (126), senior Jashon McGhee (145), freshman Ryan Bithorn (152) and sophomore Austin Toelle (160).
The Blue Devils captured the Region 1-AAAA championship for the first time since 2011. They also qualified for the state duals last year as the area runner-up then lost both matches.
“My initial reaction was that we somewhat underachieved, but I reassured them that they had wrestled hard and lost two close matches and they should be proud of that,” said Columbus coach Namu Keys. “I was pleased most that they did not quit competing and wrestled hard both days. I am somewhat disappointed at their consistency, but that is about still being a young team that has a lot of new wrestlers.”
Keys added, “I am sure that the team is learning from each match, tournament and event. It will help us mature as a team, and the best is yet to come.”
Leading the Greenwave at the state duals with three wins were senior Thomas Hardy (106 pounds), sophomore Malik Hardy (113) and sophomore Maurice Mahone (16). Winning twice were senior Micah Butler (heavyweight), senior Nick Harris (132) and freshman Landre Elam (145). Winning once were senior Devonte Reed (120), senior De’Quandre Williams (126), senior Izaiah Thompson (138), sophomore Tyrone Wright (182), senior Quinton Henderson (195) and freshman Caleb Jones (220).
“This is by far the youngest team from an experience standpoint that I’ve had in a long time,” said Spencer coach Robert Sanders, whose Greenwave teams qualified for the state duals 12 of the past 15 years. “This team has had to overcome many obstacles off the mat to get to this point, but they have found a way to still be successful.”
Spencer finished the team dual season 19-3. Although he was disappointed the close losses denied the Greenwave a chance to surpass the 2015 squad, which reached the Class AAA final four, Sanders said, “This team did a great job in continuing the standard that has been established years ago.”
Leading the Panthers at the state duals by winning one match were senior Kedrick Harvey (285 pounds), senior Thomas Sparks (138), freshman Bentley Long (195), freshman Sean Zier (126), sophomore Riley Free (145), senior Kenneth McEvers (195) and senior Kenneth Nocchi (113).
Eight of the 14 wrestlers in ChattCo’s starting lineup are freshmen or sophomores, and only four of them returned from last season’s team, but the Panthers overcame their inexperience to finish as the runner-up in Area 2-A and reach the state duals for the first time.
“We have improved each week throughout the season,” said ChattCo coach Mike Nixon.
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.