Bates, Cody Phillips and Kilpatrick all place in Jackson Co. tourney
Madison County’s wrestling team finished in the top half of the always-tough Panther Invitational, a showing that head coach Richie Houston didn’t foresee prior to the two-day, 24-team event.
“With the caliber of that tournament, in the back of my mind I was hoping that we weren’t going to be in the bottom three or four,” he said.
“That made me feel better,” Houston said of his team’s finish.
Madison County placed 12th in the tournament, the Raiders’ first of the year.
The team’s top individual finishers were Kyle Bates (fourth, 140-lb.), Cody Phillips (fifth, 112-lb.) and Michael Kilpatrick (fifth, 112-lb.). All finished with 3-2 records.
Houston pointed out that seven Madison County wrestlers reached the quarterfinals, “which is pretty good.”
The pleasantly-surprised Houston noted that his Raiders fared better than some quality area programs.
Placing behind Madison County were teams such as Central Gwinnett (16th), Elbert County (17th), Winder-Barrow (18th) and Apalachee (21st).
“So there are some teams in the area that have been predominantly as good or better than us finish below us,” Houston said. “And that’s with a young team, so kind of that made me feel better.”
Host Jackson County won the tournament, followed by Gilmer County and White County.
Madison County dropped a pair of Tuesday matches before the tournament, losing to Clarke Central (35-27) and Stephens County (48-36).
Winners against Clarke Central were Colton Phillips (119), Caleb McCain (125), Kilpatrick (130), Kyle Bates (145) and Issac Smith (152).
Winners versus Stephens County were Colton Phillips (119), McCain (125), Kilpatrick (130), Bates (125), Smith (152), Tyler Adams (215) and Justin Peters (285).
Madison County is slowly but surely shoring up its lineup as wrestlers finally make weight. That process was delayed due to new requirements this year.
Houston noted that brothers Cody and Colton Phillips are back in the fold.
“Both Cody and Colton are in the lineup at 112-lb. and 119-lb.,” Houston said. “That kind of solidifies those two (spots).”
The coach added that Tanner Johnson is coming off an injury and looking to fill either the 152-lb. or 160-lb. slot.
“If he can get to 152, that will help our lineup a lot — or 160,” Houston said.
Madison County was short-handed early this week in practice, missing four wrestlers due to injury or illness, as the team prepared for this weekend’s “Rumble in the Jungle” at Wheeler.
This dual tournament format will allow plenty of mat time for the entire Raider lineup.
“For a young team, I think it’s great because, like at an individual tournament, they can go 0-2 and not get much mat time,” Houston said. “But at this, they’re going to wrestle in every dual.”