Calhoun Wrestling had a strong showing at the 2020 GHSA Traditional Wrestling Championships in Macon. The Yellow Jackets would see one of their own compete for a state championship on Saturday in the form of senior Reece Poe.
Poe, in his final time out on the mat, wrestled in the 145lb Class AAA championship against North Hall’s Cody Smith. After a scoreless first, Smith would strike first for a 2-0 edge. Poe would tally one point to slice the lead in half moving into the final two minutes, but the one point would be all Poe recorded.
Smith took the individual state championship bout 4-1.
“We had a game plan of just being aggressive out in the first period and it just didn’t work out,” Herndon said. “Sometimes the best-laid plans just don’t work and (Smith) was better than we were today. We’re super proud of Reece. He’s a four-time state placer. We definitely wanted to win it this year, but second’s a huge accomplishment.”
“We gave him a little time to cool off,” Herndon said on the aftermath of Poe’s loss. “All four of us went out there — the coaches and his dad — just told him we were proud of him, we loved him. He had a great career, great senior season. He’s a good kid, made our team better. Great leader.”
Poe will graduate from Calhoun High School with a state runner up in wrestling and a state championship in football under his belt.
In 2017, the Yellow Jackets defeated Peach County in the Class AAA title game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“It’s a tough loss, but in the end, it’s just one part of his life,” Herndon said on the wrestling aspect. “He’ll move on from here. I don’t know what exactly he plans on doing after high school, but whatever he chooses to do, I know he’ll do well at it.”
Calhoun advanced 10 wrestlers from the area to sectionals. Six of those 10 advanced to Macon.
Calhoun’s other wrestlers during the state tournament were: junior Armando Monroy at 113, senior Jesus Gonzalez at 126, junior Haydin Harris at 170, junior Jason Vicente at 182 and senior Myron Rodriguez at 220.
“To those other kids, I just want to say they wrestled really well,” Herndon said. “They out-performed what they should have, so definitely proud of those other five besides Reece.”
With the season at an end, Herndon and the Jackets return to Calhoun and prepare for the school’s move from Class AAA to 5A.
“Next year, moving into 5A, our area is going to be probably even tougher than it has been,” Herndon said. “We’re going to have to keep working hard. We’ve got ... a good upcoming senior class so we’ll just have to work and keep getting better.”
Woodland-Cartersville, a current 5A school and one of the schools that will be in the same region as Calhoun next year, has won back-to-back state duals and traditional wrestling titles.