High School Sports

Spencer sweeps All-Bi-City wrestling awards

It took a minute for Spencer wrestling coach Robert Sanders to recall all his team's accomplishments this season. It's understandable. There were a lot of them.

It set program records for wins (25) and state qualifiers (10). It placed at the state traditional meet for the first time in school history and finished fourth in the Class AAA state duals. Two wrestlers, Joshua Sampson and Tuyen Bowles, competed in individual state finals and a number of younger wrestlers made the trip to state, as well.

They can add a couple more accolades: Sanders was named the All-Bi-City Coach of the Year and Bowles the All-Bi-City Wrestler of the Year.

In short, it was the best season in school history, but only a precursor, Sanders said, for what's to come.

"For us to be able to compete against teams like Lumpkin County, Jefferson, Toombs -- teams that are perennial powers, I think it showed a lot about where we are as a program," he said. "The biggest thing is, actually, we were a young team this year. Most of them are coming back. We're losing the star power, but the nucleus is coming back. For them next year, they need to just keep progressing from state qualifier to state placer."

Count Bowles, who wrestled in the 138, among the "star power" that is moving on after this year. In an area full of talented wrestlers, he stood out, losing just once all year. That loss came in his final match of the year, the state championship, against Rockmart's Nick Forsyth.

It was a 6-5 decision, and even that loss didn't come without its share of flukiness.

Bowles showed a video of what was very nearly a takedown that would have awarded him two points. Instead, Forsyth slipped out, in a manner of speaking, and judges awarded him two points instead.

But Bowles didn't hold a grudge about the loss. Instead, he said he's proud of what he was able to accomplish this year, especially finishing second in a group of the best wrestlers in the state.

"It felt good because I ended the season strong," Bowles said. "I can say I had my best season this year. I took a lot of time out of my schedule. I sacrificed a lot of weekends to wrestling. I worked really hard, and I was happy to see my hard work pay off the way I wanted it to pay off."

Overall, he was 42-1 and was named most outstanding wrestler after his victory at the Hardaway Invitational. He was a city champion, area champion, sectional champion and

state runner-up.

Now, he plans to go to college and start it all over again.

"It's just like starting over as a freshman in high school," he said.

As for Sanders and those remaining with Spencer heading into next season, they've already turned their attention to the future.

The offseason program will begin in a few weeks and wrestlers will start lining up camps for the summer in the near future as well.

Sanders said he was thrilled with the results this season, but he has high hopes for the future.

"I think we can be as good next year as we were this year," he said. "Or even better."