Red Raider coach Richie Houston has watched this year’s senior wrestlers since their middle school days. And while there’s plenty to prove in 2010-11, Houston knows this Madison County squad is blessed with something other squads have lacked: experience.
“This is the oldest team we’ve had in the seven years I’ve been here,” said Houston. “When we started the middle school program these seniors were our first group of seventh graders.”
Houston rattles off some of their names: Cody and Colton Phillips, Isaac Ruiz, Kyle Bates, Kyle Gordon, Matt Dove and Tanner Johnson.
Four team members finished one round shy of placing at the state meet at the Gwinnett Arena last year: Cody Phillips, Max Nash, Ruiz and Kyle Bates.
“I think we have a group with a chance to make some noise,” said Houston.
Madison County opened its season with a convincing 47-23 win over a solid Central Gwinnett squad Friday.
“They’re a 5A school out of Gwinnett County, a hotbed for wrestling,” said Houston.
Madison County will travel to Commerce Nov. 30 to face the Tigers, along with 5A Peachtree Ridge and perennial wrestling powerhouse Jefferson. The Red Raiders will then participate in the always tough Panther Invitational Dec. 3-4, before traveling to Gwinnett County Dec. 7 to face North Gwinnett and Lithonia. Afterwards, the Red Raiders will hit the mat six more times in December, part of a grueling month-long campaign.
“This is the toughest dual meet schedule we’ve had,” said Houston.
The coach said the early tests will help the squad prepare for the Region 8 duals, which are set for Jan. 7-8 at Clarke Central, with the Class AAAA state duals following Jan. 14-15 in Macon.
VERSUS CENTRAL GWINNETT
Those picking up wins for the Red Raiders over Central Gwinnett were: Jesse Raul, 103 lbs.; Max Nash, 125; Cody Phillips, 130; Colton Phillips, 135; Eric Larkins, 145; Isaac Ruiz, 152; Kyle Bates, 160; Steven Resby, 171; Andrew McCannon, 189; and Kyle Gordon, 215.
The Red Raider junior varsity team participated in the Rockdale duals Saturday. Those who placed in that event included: Grant Hudgens, 119 lbs., fifth; Kyle Crawford, 125, seventh; Dylan Haney, 135, third; Tom Evans, 152, eighth; Keyonate Martin, 160, fourth; and Dustin Stanley, 189, fourth.