THE JACKSON County Comprehensive High School wrestling squad got in a full workload last week as the Panthers wrestled in two duals matches and a tournament.
On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Jackson County played host to West Hall and Clarke Central for a tri-duals match.
The Panthers defeated area opponent West Hall 43-33, and narrowly knocked off Clarke Central 33-32.
“I knew going into the night that both matches would be tough,” said Panther head coach Jason Powers. “I felt that we wrestled well against West Hall and capitalized on most of our opportunities. However, we gave up way too many pins in the West Hall match and that’s why it was close. We can’t afford to give up that many pins and expect to win. We
have to take the pins back down to decisions and major decisions and that will make a huge difference the next time we wrestle them.”
Powers noted that the matchup with Clarke Central made him “very nervous.”
The Gladiators finished ahead of Jackson County in the recent Panther Invitational. But this time, the Panthers emerged victorious as Trevin Sweat was able to finish off his opponent in a match that came down to the wire.
“I told them going in that we needed to avoid getting pinned and we did,” added Powers. “I think we gave up one forfeit and just one pin during the match. That is what we are going to have to do to win against quality opponents. I am very proud of the team for these two wins. We learned a lot from the matches and must continue to improve throughout the year to stay above our competition.”
Last weekend, the Panthers traveled to Lumpkin County for the John Smith Mountaineer tournament, which featured duals matches on Friday and a traditional tournament on Saturday.
Jackson County defeated Blessed Trinity 42-21 and routed Forsyth Central 51-18. The Panthers fell to Lumpkin County 57-13.
“We started out with Blessed Trinity and wrestled very well,” Powers said. “We were disciplined and executed nicely. However, the match took its toll on us and we were very flat headed into the match against Lumpkin County and we did not wrestle well at all. They were the better team but the score should not have been what it was. We capped off the night nicely with a win over Forsyth Central.”
The Panthers improved their duals record to 13-3 on the season, and have two more large duals tournaments to compete in before heading to area duals in early January.
“Everybody is starting to understand their role on the team and we are not giving up very many pins which are keeping the matches close,” added Powers.
During Saturday’s individual tournament, many Panther wrestlers leaped at the opportunity to avenge their losses to Lumpkin County on the previous night.
Lane Robertson and Evan Breakspear earned individual championships in their respective weight classes. Other Panther top five finishers were: Connor Crump (second), Aaron Sosbee (second), Brian Carranza (third), Chuckie Allen (third) and Luke Gonzalez (fourth).
The Panthers finished third overall in the tournament behind Lumpkin County (first) and Blessed Trinity (second).
Junior varsity wrestlers Chandler Saine, Jordan Williams, Will Carter and Santos Gutierrez all took home championships in their respective weight classes as well.
The varsity Mat Panthers will head to Elbert County on Saturday to compete in the Granite Bowl Duals, while the junior varsity squad will host the JV Panther Invitational.