Madison County’s wrestling team is back on the mats, with long-time standout Cody Bond making his final rounds as a Red Raider senior.
The three-time state finalist and one-time champion will lead the young Red Raider squad again in 2016.
“Where do you start?” said head coach Richie Houston of Bond. “He’s special.”
Houston said Bond, who has interest from Appalachian State, has competed and fared well in national tournaments recently, including a good showing in the Midwest Nationals in July. Houston said a big issue for the Red Raiders is having someone on the squad who can give him an adequate run for his money in practice. Houston has suffered some injuries and hasn’t been able to spar like in the past.
Houston said Bond will start in the 138-lb. weight class and likely move to 132.
As for the rest of the wrestling program, Houston said he feels they’re “still about a year away.” He noted that the middle school program has around 47 or 48 wrestlers now.
“(Coach) Eric Berrryman has done a good job with the numbers,” said Houston. “I think the future looks pretty good. I think we’ll be OK.”
Bond is joined this year by three other seniors, including Jackson County transfer Austin Glenn, who will wrestle at 160 or 170 lbs. Two other seniors are Lauden Ernest, 145 or 152 lbs; and Robert Williams, 152 lbs.
Other wrestlers include: Mitch Douglas, a junior, 132 lbs; Rowan Smith, freshman, 126 lbs.; Ryan Miller, junior, 126 lbs.; Austin Kerns, freshman, 138 lbs.; Brandon Epps, freshman, 152 lbs.; Cody Hawkes, junior, 145 lbs.; Jerry Dobbyns, sophomore, 160 lbs.; Jaxson Hoetzel, freshman, 152 lbs.; Hamilton Cooper, freshman, 170 lbs.; Jashieus Maddox, junior, 195 lbs.; Johan Teran, freshman, heavyweight; Chase Bond, freshman; and Seth Goodrich, sophomore.
Madison County is now paired with powerhouse Jefferson in Region 8-AAAA. Houston noted that Jefferson is not only not around Georgia, but around the southeast.
“Everyone knows who they are,” said Houston. “He (Doug Thurmond) has built a dynasty.”
Houston said he feels the other teams in the region — Oconee County, North Oconee, Stephens County and St. Pius — are more evenly matched.
“We’re going to have some holes in our lineup,” said Houston. “But I think we’ll be OK.”
Houston said the Raiders will participate in several tough tournaments this year, including the Buford Fall Invitational Saturday at 9 a.m. Madison County will host its first match at the Dome at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 22, with Monroe, Gainesville, Franklin County and Jackson County coming to town.