Calhoun hosted Gordon Central for a match on Wednesday night, and each team had some impressive performances while also getting in a final tune-up before their respective area traditional touraments.
The Jackets came out on top 48-27 over the Warriors in a dual that had momentum swings back and forth before Calhoun took control thanks to a solid run through the lower weight classes. Calhoun coach Michael Herndon said it was a good final match before preparing for the highly-competitive field at area traditionals at Bremen.
“It was great to get one last tune up in and a win before heading into the traditional tournament,” said Herndon. “Our goal is to go down there and wrestle the best we have all season, and we’ll see what happens.”
The match started with Gordon Central’s Darron Rader earning a win by forfeit at 182 to give his team a quick 6-0 lead, but that score was quickly evened up when Calhoun’s Sexton Golden got a pin at 195. The Warriors then got a hard-fought 9-7 decision from Ethan Mitchell at 220, and teammate Skyler Delp followed with an impressive pin at 285 to put Gordon Central up 15-6 in the contest.
Calhoun grabbed the momentum back and rode it to seven straight wins, starting with pins at 106 and 113 from Jonathan Santana and Blake Bailey, respectively. Brock Parker continued the surge with a 4-3 decision win at 120, Kevin Hedges followed with a pin at 126 and Owen Mendez earned hard-fought 7-6 decision in overtime over Gordon Central’s Jasper Stepp.
The Jackets’ Reece Poe pinned his opponent at 138, and Bryant Busby got a forfeit win at 145 to push the lead to 42-15 in favor of the host Calhoun.
Gordon Central finished the dual strong by winning two out of the final three matches thanks to a pin at 152 from Christian Davis and a forfeit win for Trent Dutton at 170 to close out the match. Calhoun’s Jacob Dunlap earned a pin at 160 in between those two matches as the Jackets earned the 48-27 victory.
Gordon Central coach Cory Nix said despite the loss, he was proud of the way his guys fought and how much they have improved throughout the season, which is his first at the helm.
“It’s been a crazy season with us trying to instill a big culture change, which is what we’re trying to do at Gordon Central in athletics as a whole,” said Nix. “We’re really young with a lot of our guys being first and second-year wrestlers. Several of the guys that had success tonight were young guys. We’ve been preaching to our kids that it is all about competing and not giving up. We’ve stressed to them how important it is to get in the weight room. Technique in wrestling takes time to learn, but our guys are getting experience and have competed harder and better every match. Myself and my assistant coach (Michael) Grubbs are very proud of them and how far they’ve come.”
Calhoun got a chance to honor their three seniors on Wednesday prior to the match as well. That group included Dunlap, JC Fuller and Mariano Barrios. Herndon said the group has meant a lot to the team this year and over the past four years during their time competing for the Jackets as they were freshmen when he came to Calhoun four years ago.
“Senior night is always a bittersweet night,” said Herndon. “Jacob, Mariano and JC have been an important part of our wrestling team these past years. They were freshmen when I came in, so this is the first group I’ve been with for four years. We are certainly going to miss those guys.”
Both teams will compete in their area traditional tournaments this weekend with each wrestlers’ season on the line. Calhoun will visit Bremen for the Area 3-AAA Traditionals, which will start on Friday night and wrap up on Saturday. Gordon Central will make the trip to Armuchee for Area 3-AA Traditionals on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. The top four wrestlers in each weight class advance to next week’s Sectionals with Class AAA being at Bremen and Class AA at Rockmart.
“Tonight’s match was about trying to get our top 14 kids one more match before traditonals this weekend with a few exceptions, and I think we’ve got it mostly right,” said Nix. “We’re going to go down to Armuchee on Saturday and see how we compete. We’re looking forward to it.”