The Darlington Tigers’ wrestling squad came up with a couple of hard-fought victories Wednesday night, beating Cedartown, Model and Coosa in a four-team home match.
“I feel like the effort was there tonight. In the first match against Cedartown, it took us a few minutes to get warmed up,” said Darlington head coach Kelly McDurmon. “We pulled out a victory against them not wrestling our best, and then we kind of put it together against a pretty tough Model team.”
The Tigers earned a hard-fought 34-21 victory over Cedartown despite dropping their first three matches. The Blue Devils were even tougher for Darlington, as the Tigers squeaked out another difficult win, 40-36. For their final matchup of the night, Darlington walked through Coosa, 46-7.
Darlington’s defending state champion Jule Peek dropped Cedartown’s Calvin Ragsdale 12-0 in the 145 weight class, then earned a 21-3 win over CJ Jackson in the 158 weight class.
“I saw a lot of effort from our state champion, Jule Peek. Day-in and day-out, he does what it takes to be successful,” said McDurmon. “We had to move him up in the lineup a few times to wrestle him against bigger kids, and he just does what he’s got to do to make the team win.”
Jordan Beck earned a fall in his first contest in the 160 weight class at the 3:08 mark, then followed that up with back-to-back falls in the 170 weight class to go 3-0 on the evening.
Luke Johnson went 2-1 on the night, downing Joshua Williams from Cedartown in 20 seconds in the 152 weight class, then earning another first-period fall over Joseph Hinton.
Hayden Cook, the defending Class A state champion at 170, earned a 4-3 victory over Cedartown’s Jonas Ritter in the 182 weight class, then pinned Kendall Byrd from Model at the 1:53 mark for consecutive wins.
Bobby Hammond earned a first-round fall against Model’s Nick Mullis in the 126 weight division, followed by an 8-2 victory over Coosa’s Chase Turner.
Brooks Busby was Darlington’s only other wrestler to go 3-0 on the night, earning an extra-session 10-8 win over Cedartown’s Tyler Blalock (285), then falls against Model’s Dylan Warner (285) at the 4:25 mark and Coosa’s Billy Leffler (285) at the 5:52 mark.
“I think Brooks Busby needs to get a shout out,” said McDurmon. “He won three matches tonight, and that might be the first time all year that he’s won three and lost zero. I was impressed.”
Despite the narrow loss to Darlington, Model bounced back to beat Cedartown handedly, 58-14.
JC Fisher earned falls against Johnson from Darlington in the 152 weight class, then defeated Ragsdale at the 3:53 mark in a matchup against Cedartown.
Dustin Messex handled William Groover in the 160 weight class, earning a pin at the 3:18 mark, while Byrd earned a fall against Holt Brewster at the 5:41 mark in Model’s tilt with Darlington.
Against Cedartown, Robert Blankenship, Paul Swords and Jacob Crumbly all earned falls for Model.
After fighting to a close finish against Darlington, the Bulldogs walked through Coosa, 46-7, but struggled to find their place against Model.
Brandon Brame and Cody Tibbetts were Cedartown’s only wrestlers to go 3-0 on the night.
Brame earned a fall at the 3:40 mark against Hammond in the Darlington matchup, then took 20-4 and 10-0 wins. Tibbetts earned a 9-7 victory against Darlington in an extra session and a fall at the 1:48 mark against Coosa’s Grayson Whimpee before taking down Model’s Chase Lowe, 9-0.
Hugh Taff and Ritter also earned back-to-back wins for Cedartown. Taff won his first contest against Brewster with a fall at 2:22, then beat Coosa’s Dobbs, 12-3. Ritter earned a fall against Eric Mitchell from Coosa at the 1:20 mark, then beat Model’s Grant Hicks at the 1:21 mark.
Coosa’s Garrett Collins beat Cedartown’s Blalock at the 5:55 mark, then Jacob Dobbs beat Darlington’s Brewster 12-10 for the Eagles.
“We’ve got a really tough matchup coming up this weekend at the Prep Slam. There will be about 36 teams from all over the nation wrestling down in Atlanta. That’s usually the test for our best kids, our older kids,” said McDurmon. “Then we have the Darlington Classic here at home, which gives us a chance to get warmed up right before Area.”
As for what to expect from the Darlington Classic, the Tigers expect to have a full house from teams in the surrounding area.
“There will be about 14 teams coming from all over Northwest Georgia. Rockmart won the tournament last year, they’re coming back to try to defend their title,” said McDurmon. “Rome, Model and Coosa are going to be there as will teams from South Paulding, Lafayette and Piedmont, Ala.”
Model and Coosa will travel to Armuchee January 24, before wrestling at the Darlington Invitational on January 25.