Chris McCrackin is rewriting the record books at Banks County High School.
Last weekend, the junior wrestler reached a milestone mark as he earned his third Class AAA state title in as many years.
“This has to be the biggest thing in Banks County sports history,” said Leopard head wrestling coach Kasey Hanley. “We are witnessing something that’s never been done here – a three time state champion. We are in uncharted territory.”
McCrackin wrestled his way through the 126-pound bracket with very few hiccups last week. He pinned his first round opponent from Westside before meeting Jefferson’s Price Joiner in the quarterfinals. Joiner gave McCrackin his toughest match of the tournament, but the Leopard veteran prevailed in a 7-6 decision.
From there McCrackin defeated Sonoraville’s Kyle Chastain (11-1 major decision) in the semifinals and Central Carrollton’s Dawson Hunt (11-2 MD) in the final round.
McCrackin entered the tournament as a favorite in his division, but had unexpectedly stumbled the previous weekend at sectional competition.
McCrackin was dealt his first loss of the year and the sole blemish on a 58-1 record at the AAA East Sectionals. But in his mind, the loss at sectionals was a blessing in disguise.
“After sectionals, it was kind of a gut check,” said McCrackin. “Going back and looking at what I did wrong was a good thing before the state tournament. After that loss, I went into the state tournament more confident because I finally had that stumble, rather than going in undefeated.”
Now, with a third state title, McCrackin has a chance to become one of only 29 individuals who have ever won four state titles in the history of Georgia High School wrestling.
“He has a rare opportunity to be in a very elite class of kids next year,” said Hanley. “Being a one-time state champion puts you in an elite class, a two-time champion is phenomenal and being a three-time state champion is just amazing. But you are in a very special group if you get a fourth state championship. He has an opportunity to earn that next year.”
McCrackin acknowledged that a fourth title is definitely a goal for him, and one he hopes to achieve with the help of his teammates and coaches.
“I’m just thankful for all the coaching I’ve had and being able to put in all the hard work over the years – I think its finally paying off for me,” said McCrackin. “Hopefully, I can continue to work hard to win a fourth title next year.”
Hanley noted that he and the rest of the Leopard coaching staff are “just happy to be a part of McCrackin’s titles.”
“He has benefitted from having several good coaches in his career,” added Hanley. “But at the same time, he’s made all of his coaches look really, really good.”
McCrackin wasn’t the only Leopard to find success at the AAA state tournament last weekend in Macon. The Leopards finished in ninth as a team, but had a couple of individuals earn spots on the podium.
“In the big picture, we definitely didn’t finish as well as we wanted to. But after the duals are over, it does switch to individual competition,” said Hanley. “And the individuals who get in there and work, show heart and continue to do the right things – they are rewarded at the end of the year.”
Banks County senior Dylan Suttles took third in the 132-pound weight class. Suttles fell to Jackson County’s Connor Crump in the semifinals, but battled back through the consolation bracket to defeat Central Macon’s Darrel Spencer (5-3 decision) for the bronze medal.
“Not one time have I ever questioned his heart,” Hanley said of his lone senior medalist. “He is a battler – a great kid to coach. He leads by example both on the mat and in the classroom.”
Leopard Dylan Gouine placed fifth in the 170-pound weight class.
While the Leopards were dealt a tough hand at the end of the season, Hanley said he is excited for what the future holds.
“Next year, we’ll have nine returning starters coming back,” added Hanley. “That’s big. Hopefully those guys will come back having gained some perspective this year after watching the state tournament and seeing what they need to do to be able to be on the podium next year. I thought a lot of them should have been medalists this year. Our mentality and mindset may need to improve a little bit, but the potential is there.”