The Madison County wrestling team produced no placers at the state wrestling tournament at Gwinnett Arena but is all the wiser for the experience.
“It was kind of a good momentum builder for next year,” coach Richie Houston said. “I guess the ole saying in wrestling is that you’ve kind of got to be there first.”
Cody Phillips (112), Michael Kilpatrick (130) and Issac Smith (145) all went 1-2 over during Thursday’s and Friday’s rounds. Chris Savage (140) and Tyler Adams (215) went 0-2.
To qualify for state this year, wrestlers had to advance past both the region tournament and a newly-implemented state sectional.
Despite the new stipulation, the Raiders sent five first-time qualifiers to state. Three of those five — Phillips, Smith and Adams — return next year. Meanwhile, Savage and Kilpatrick finished their careers on the state’s largest stage.
Houston said the bright lights and atmosphere of the expansive Gwinnett Arena leave a first-time state qualifier a bit awestruck.
“When you walk in and there’s 12 mats and there’s all those schools, I think the first time is kind of overwhelming for some guys — seeing all the people and all the faces,” Houston said.
Now, thoughts turn to next year when Madison County should be a more battle-tested squad.
“We’ve got most everybody back except those two seniors, Savage and Kilpatrick — a lot to look forward to,” Houston said.