On the heels of last week’s first-place tie in the Darlington Classic, the Tigers crowned seven Area 4-A champions Saturday at the Huffman Athletic Center while qualifying all 10 of their wrestlers for next week’s sectional tournament, joining a slew of other sectional qualifiers from the surrounding area.
In Class AA action, the Pepperell Dragons came away with first place in the Area 5-AA tournament in Rockmart, qualifying 10 for sectionals and crowning four area champions.
Darlington had first-place finishes from seasoned wrestlers Dalton Blankenship and Colton Woods, both of whom have won four straight area titles, and some lesser experienced competitors who are being guided by the seniors.
The mix of competitors Saturday impressed head coach Kelly McDurmon as the team gets ready to host next Saturday’s Class A Section B sectionals.
“We were physical,” McDurmon said. “We walked around before the tournament started … feeling confident. We’ve had pretty solid kids for three or four years, but to add some young kids to that mix — it’s what we’ve been working at all season long.”
Trion finished with 237 points and Darlington had 214 points ahead of third-place Mt. Zion with 178 points.
Darlington’s Luke McDumon also won an area title defeating Trion’s Ethan Madaris in the 120-pound final. Alan Cordero took first in the 126 group, Rhett McDurmon beat Trion’s Ross Moore at 170, Garrett Sheffield won at 182, and Tyler Ingram bested Trion state champion Lincoln Maddux at 145.
“Any time you can beat a state champion you’ve really accomplished something,” McDurmon said. “I thought he pushed the pace in a way that gave him an opportunity to win, because he’s in great shape. That’s been his M.O. all year — push the pace, make kids work and then when they run out of gas, he’s there to take the victory.”
Dawson Williams (152) and Joseph Marion (160) came away with second-place finishes for Darlington.
Out of Trion’s 13 competitors the Bulldogs saw three wrestlers come home with areas title as Josh Buster came back at the last second to defeat Darlington’s Williams in a 14-12 decision that was awarded Best Match.
“Josh Buster is probably one of the nicest kids you’ll ever meet,” Trion head coach Eric Brock said. “To win the area championship and to get Best Match, that was probably the highlight of the day. I’ve got a lot of kids who work hard, but he outworks everyone.”
Other area title winners for Trion were Alex Stewart at 220 and Clay Barker at 285. Alonzo Francisco (113) and Bowden Brock (132) had second-place finishes.
In Area 5-AA, Pepperell finished with 179.5 points, putting them ahead of second-place Chattooga with 174 points and third-place Model with 172 points.
“We were able to squeak it out,” Pepperell head coach Joe Knight said. “I felt good about it all day. We’ve got to put the work in for sectionals this week. We haven’t slacked off, but we’re banged up from the duals part of the season. We can take this week and get them ready to make the big trip to Toombs County.”
Ivan Arguello took first for the Dragons in the 126-pound weight class against Caleb Cason of Rockmart, Landon Camp won at 132 against Rockmart’s Joshua Millhollan, Thomas Zenga won at 138 against Nick Daniels of Dade County, Isaiah Bevels took first at 145 over Joe Wallace of Model, and Ethan Sharpe took second place at 152.
Chattooga also saw four wrestlers win area titles as Griffin Jarrett defeated Model’s Pierce Fincher at 106, Ty Veatch beat Model’s Allen Woods, Alex Mears defeated Model’s Austin Wheeler at 220, and at 285 Luis Medina bested Dade County’s Ian Howell.
The Blue Devils finished by sending nine to sectionals, including Ray Shaw who finished in second place against Rockmart’s Griffin Pace in the 182-pound class.
Rounding out the Floyd County teams were seventh-place Armuchee, which is sending five to sectionals, and eighth-place Coosa, which will send two wrestlers.
Armuchee state champion Wes Conley defeated Rockmart’s Nicholas Swan at 113, and Cameron Espy came up short against Rockmart’s Peyton Morris at 120.
The Yellow Jackets finished the day in fifth place with 161 points, eight moving on to sectionals and three area champions. Joining first-place finishers Pace and Morris was Zoryan Hendricks with a win against Chattooga’s Jacoby Cottrell.