DULUTH — Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe’s Derrick Laney put an exclamation point on a stellar high school wrestling career with another individual state championship on Saturday at the Gwinnett Arena.
Laney made it three consecutive state crowns when he pinned Jackson’s Charlie Aly 23 seconds into the second round of their 215-pound Class AAA final.
The Warriors’ senior, who recently signed to play football at the University of West Georgia, won the 215-pound Class AAAA crown as a sophomore before taking the 215-pound Class AAA title last year.
He finished third at 189 pounds in Class AAAA as a freshman.
Laney joins current Heritage High coach Kenny Hill as LFO’s only three-time state champ. Hill went on to win at fourth title at East Ridge (Tenn.) as a senior.
“It would have been unbelievable to be a four-time champion, but I’m so proud of winning three,” he said after his match. “I was so blessed just to win two of them. This is probably my final wrestling match ever, so I’m proud to go out like this.”
Laney admits there was a time earlier this year when he didn’t know if even getting a chance to compete for a third straight title was even possible.
Laney tore muscles in his rib cage during a match on Dec. 15, forcing him to miss most of his senior season on the mat.
“When I first got hurt, I was questioning whether or not I would even be able to come back and wrestle at all because I was in so much pain,” he explained. “The first two weeks after it happened, I could hardly get out of the recliner, so just to be able to get back on the mat was amazing enough, but to win a third title is just icing on the cake This really means a lot.”
LFO head coach Donnie Welborn said the win meant a lot to him as well.
“I’m very fortunate to coach a guy that’s not just won three state titles, but to have won two of them in such dominant fashion. He’s such a pleasure to be around and Derrick is just one of those kids that everyone wants to be around. I’m just very, very proud of him.”
Laney was the only LFO wrestler to place as the Warriors finished in 16th place overall in the team standings with 54 points.