Jamison Powell and Kelsie Burkett of Armuchee, Sarah Poss and Mary West of Coosa, and Model’s Chrystan Smith competed in the first ever Georgia High School Association traditional sectional tournaments solely for girls this past Saturday. The Class AA Section A tournament took place at Toombs County.
Powell and Smith also earned the right to compete in the first ever traditional state tournament, which will run concurrently with the boys’ tournament Wednesday through Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.
At sectionals Smith pinned Poss for first place in the 106-pound weight class, while Powell pinned Jordan’s Paola Franco for a trip to state at 136. Only the winners in each weight class advance to state. Burkett pinned West in the third-place match at 126.
Powell likes the idea of girls having their own tournament, but she’s maintaining her focus on the competition.
“I don’t want to say we’re special now, but it’s good that girls have their own tournament now,” Powell said. “I’m not nervous or anything, but it’s going to be different. I’ll get to see what they’re good at doing, and they’ll see what I’m good at doing.”
The Armuchee duo got into the sport just in time to benefit from the new arrangement as Powell, a sophomore, and Burkette, a freshman, are in their first season of competition.
“He begged me to do it,” Powell said pointing at Armuchee head coach Joey Harris. “So I didn’t really have a choice, and my Dad said ‘Do it, do it, do it.’”
Both girls have wrestling in their blood as their fathers, Dustin Powell and Link Burkett, both wrestled for Armuchee.
Harris said Powell and Burkett have improved over the season even though the two didn’t have much experience or knowledge of the sport.
“They understand the objective is to gain control of your opponent,” Harris said. “I think it’s safe to say they didn’t have a good understanding of the sport, in general, when they started.”
“We’ve gotten a lot better since the first day,” Powell added. “A lot better.”
Though Burkett said participating with the team was awkward at first, she’s enjoyed being able to compete against different wrestlers from across the state.
“Throughout the season, especially early on, they would ask if they could spar and wrestle with some guys during practice since they were both beginners,” Harris said. “They wanted to be paired up with someone with more experience.”
By the end of the season, the girls felt at home with the team.
“They’re family,” Powell said. “It’s just like a big ole family — a sister and a bunch of brothers.”