The finals of Saturday’s Darlington Classic wrestling tournament belonged to the host Tigers, but the full day of action at the Huffman Center saw most Rome area teams claim some part of the excitement.
Darlington had all five of its wrestlers who advanced to the finals win their respective weight classes, while the Tigers took the overall team title as well, finishing with 158.5 points.
With only three weeks left in the season, 17 teams — including those from all four Floyd County Schools as well as Rockmart — got together at the Classic to get in one last tune-up before the traditional area tournaments next weekend.
“We’ve talked about peaking at the right time, and if we carry on like this for the next two to three weeks we can be sure to have several champions at the end,” Darlington coach Kelly McDurmon said. “We won not just because of the five champions we had but because of all the guys who wrestled through the wrestle-backs.”
The Tigers’ Carl McDurmon (113 pounds) and Colton Woods (132) both won their championship matches by decision, while Davis Peek (138) and Rhett McDurmon (152) won their final bouts by fall.
Darlington 170-pounder Garrett Sheffield was locked in a close bout with North Paulding’s Kyle Cline in their division’s title match before Cline was forced to withdraw due to an injury in the third period.
Pepperell took third overall with 133 points and had Barrett Pence take the 145-pound championship with a pin less than 30 seconds into his match with North Paulding’s Aaron Werkheiser.
Isaiah Bevels took second for the Dragons at 138 pounds while six other wrestlers advanced to their division’s consolation finals. Model’s Walker Byrd pinned Will Smith of St. Francis to win the 126-pound title.
Armuchee’s Jacob Henderson (182) and JC Burkett (220) each won their respective weight classes, helping the Indians build to 105 points and a sixth-place finish.
“I just think this group of seniors has been a part of raising the bar of the program,” Armuchee coach Joey Harris said. “They’ve done a good job of letting the underclassmen know it’s more of an expectation. It’s not ‘we can’ or ‘we might,’ it’s what we’re going to do.”
Overall 10 of the 14 weight classes were won by local wrestlers.
“It’s a thrill to coach all these guys and see their hard work pay off in front of all of Rome, Georgia,” McDurmon said. “What a great opportunity to put local talent on the stage and lead into the postseason with a great tournament.”
Illness kept some wrestlers from competing in the tournament, including Darlington’s Dalton Blankenship and Armuchee’s Wes Conley. The two defending state champions had been sick during the week.
Both McDurmon and Harris said they hope to see both kids get better before next weekend when Darlington will host the Area 3-A traditional tournament and Armuchee will host the Area 3-AA traditional tournament.