Five Barrow County wrestlers — four from Apalachee and one from Winder-Barrow — will descend upon the Macon Centreplex on Thursday to compete in the GHSA Class AAAAAA traditional tournament after qualifying in last weekend’s “B” sectionals at Lanier High School.
Senior Chance Wheeler of the Wildcats took home fifth place at 195 pounds in the sectionals, going 3-2 on the weekend. Junior Sam Skinner went 3-3 at 160 to finish sixth while seniors Preston Marlowe and Jackson Wadsworth both went 3-2 at 170 and 182, respectively to finish seventh.
Apalachee sophomore Corbin Lang nearly qualified at 220, but finished ninth after defeating Winder-Barrow’s Kesean Dottin in the ninth-place finish. Junior Breanna Skinner (126), freshman Ethan Delay (120) and freshman Cody Tobiasz (285) also competed for the Wildcats in the sectionals.
“I thought they all did really well,” Apalachee coach Randy Hill said. “This is a time to shine and all of them have gotten better and will hopefully keep it up this weekend. I thought our younger kids did a good job and are going to really help us in the future.
“The more mat time they get and the more time they wrestle now at camps, the better off they will be.”
Hill said the key to his wrestlers performing well at state will be scoring points early and keeping an attacking mindset.
“We’ve got some tough draws,” he said. “We’re down to a 16-man bracket in each weight class and it’s just a whole other level where all the other kids are as good and as strong as you.”
For Winder-Barrow, senior Cameron Best was the lone qualifier, going 3-2 to finish seventh at 285.
Other Winder-Barrow wrestlers who competed in the sectionals included Dottin at 220, Morgan Bell (106), Jett Clack (120), Justin Heuple (126), Zach Thomas (132), Aaron Fields (138) and Caleb Charron (195).
“We definitely would have liked to have gotten a couple more to state, but it is what it is,” Winder-Barrow coach Jim Stoudenmire said. “Sometimes you just run up against a brick wall.
“We have several guys who wrestled well. Some of them were just outdone by more talented guys and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that.”
Best will be making his second trip to state after also qualifying last year.
“That first time going can be kind of a rude awakening, but we’re hoping for a better trip this time,” Stoudenmire said. “He’s going in as a No. 7 which doesn’t help your cause when you have to start against a No. 2 from the other sectional. But when you get to this level, that means you’re top 16 in your class and anything can happen.
“We’re hoping he can pull out a win that first match, and that will make his bracket a whole lot easier.”
Stoudenmire said overall he was proud of his team’s performance this year. Typical attrition led to some vacancies in some middle-weight classes that hurt the Bulldoggs in the dual portion of the schedule.
But, Stoudenmire said, the future looks bright.
“We should have a good bit of our core back for another two or three years,” he said. “It’s a young group, but a tough bunch of guys.
We’ll pick up a few from the middle school to help fill out the classes. We hope we can see some steady improvement team-wise.”
Below is a list of each wrestler from Apalachee or Winder-Barrow who is scheduled to compete in this weekend’s state tournament along with their seed and first opponent. For complete matchups and brackets, go to ghsa.net.
Sam Skinner (Apalachee, No. 6) vs. Cole Driskell (Alexander, No. 11)
Preston Marlowe (Apalachee, No. 14) vs. Jaquarius Middlebrooks (Glynn Academy, No. 3)
Jackson Wadsworth (Apalachee, No. 14) vs. Brantley Emanuel (Effingham County, No. 3)
Chance Wheeler (Apalachee, No. 8) vs. Zekeil Walker (Effingham County, No. 9)
Cameron Best (WBHS, No. 14) vs. Derrick Newton (Coffee, No. 3).
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