SPURRED BY its wrestlers in the lower weight divisions, Jackson County opened the season by winning four out of five in the Falcon Duals at Dacula Saturday.
The Panther wrestlers (4-1) beat Centennial (49-30), Dacula (57-24), South Forsyth (68-6), and Cherokee (42-36) — while only losing to Brookwood (38-32) — in a second-place finish.
“I was very pleased with how we did this past weekend,” coach Jason Powers said. “We faced some tough competition and we overcame some adversity to finish second in the tournament. Our only loss was to Brookwood and that was by one match.”
Six wrestlers between the 106-lb. and 152-lb. divisions went undefeated or lost just one match over the course of Saturday: freshman Michael Shekey (106-lb.) 4-1, sophomore J.T. Wood (113-lb.) 5-0, senior Zach Moore (120-lb.) 5-0, freshman Nathan Riley (126-lb.) 5-0, junior Conner Andreasen (132-lb.) 4-1 and sophomore Bryan Burnette (152-lb.) 5-0.
In the heavier weight divisions, junior Daivon Ledford (170-lb.) went 5-0.
“As I expected, we are a very tough team from 106-lb. to 152.-lb.,” Powers said. “Beyond 152, we have some kids that will give a hard fight, but this was their first weekend on varsity so I know that they will continue to improve throughout the year. We should be a tough dual team all year. I am very proud of our returning starters as they did a great job leading the team and getting six points almost every time they were on the mat.”
Powers pointed to Ledford’s overpowering day in winning all five of his matches.
“Daivon Ledford was dominant all weekend and never had a match make it out of the first period,” he said.
The coach also noted performances of some Jackson County freshmen who thrived in their first varsity matches.
“I was also very pleased by the efforts of freshman Michael Shekey and Nathan Riley,” Powers said. “They stepped up in a very big way. Nathan had five pins on the day and was a big reason for our success in these dual matches. Michael Shekey went 4-1 and showed a lot of promise for this season.”
Jackson County continued its season this past Tuesday (results weren’t available due to early holiday deadlines). The Panthers’ next match is Nov. 29 at Greater Atlanta Christian against Mill Creek and Meadow Creek. Jackson County then hosts the annual Panther Invitational Dec. 2-3.
“I am extremely excited for what this team has to offer this year and for years to come,” Powers said. “We have a lot of youth on this team but we are tough.”
The Panther junior varsity went 3-2 and finished third in their tournament.
“This is probably the best dual performance by our JV team in a long time,” Powers said. “We have a lot of talented wrestlers on the JV level and they should do well this season also.”