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Cedartown’s Gage Mason tries to break free of a hold by Rockmart’s Bleu Winters during the pair’s 138-pound match on Dec. 16 at Cedartown High School.

After a long offseason, Cedartown wrestling has finally started their 2021 campaign.

For third-year head coach Spencer Jones, the new season marks another step in the right direction for the entire program as they began Saturday at the Paulding County Duals in Dallas.

“The year before I took over, the wrestling team had ten or less wrestlers. My goal coming in was to get more students involved and to make the sport more popular at the school,” Jones said. “This year we have over 40 wrestlers, which I am very excited about.”

The Mat Dawgs have already seen success under Jones’ leadership. Tanner Mason was an individual state placer (138 pound class, 4th Place) in his first season, and the team as a whole competed well against area and region powers last year.

“Last year was very difficult with COVID changing our lineup constantly and unfortunate injuries that came our way,” Jones said. “I’m very excited for this year’s team and think we have the potential to have a great year.”

Cedartown’s roster is composed of 106-pounders Lezlie Bates, Michael Johnson, Zack Gray, while Kooper Peek, and Adam Payton will compete in the 120-pound class. Fernando Cordova, Bryson Bennett, and Waylon Bevins are in the 126-pound class, Joseph Carter competes in the 132-pound class, and Gage Mason and Chad Campbell are 138-pounders.

Oscar Guzman, Dontavious Harris, Beau Durbin, Ethan Donaldson, and Antonio Hall are 145-pound wrestlers and Rhys Smith and Jesus Navarro will wrestle in the 152-pound class.

Orlando Lopez, Jaquaveon Price, and Dawson Burch are in the 160-pound class, Isaac Ritter is a 170-pounder, and the 182-pound class wrestlers include Ulises Alonso, Michael Gibbons, and Taylor Ruark. Braden Stocks, Drew Kirkpartick, Jose Molina, and Malik Blyden will compete in the 195-pound class while Demarieo Sims, Lucas Neal, Tristan Gibson, and Acea Negrete are 220-pound wrestlers.

Cedartown has four wrestlers in the 285-pound class as well in Peyton Holloway, Jai Barnes, Ryan Addison, and Jaylon Stephenson.

“Fernando is a senior captain that fell one match short from being a state placer at last year’s state tournament. He’s one of the hardest workers in the room and a great leader. I am very confident in Fernando and believe he’ll make the podium at this year’s state tournament,” Jones said.

“Isaac Ritter is also a senior captain who was a state qualifier last year, picking up three wins. He can make some noise and fight for a spot on the podium.”

CHS is adding a couple of newcomers to the roster this season as well.

“Adam Payton transferred from Etowah High School. He was fifth in the 106-pound 7A state bracket last year as a freshman. He’s a very hard worker that is motivated to improve his position on the podium at this year’s tournament,” Jones said. “Demarieo Sims is a senior standout football player who has decided to try wrestling his final year of high school. He’s a great kid and a fast learner who I believe can surprise a lot of people this year.”

Jones stated that one wrestler who improved dramatically on and off the mat during the offseason is Gage Mason. “He had a great pre-season and has continued to show out in practice,” Jones said. “I’m excited to see what Gage can do this season.”

Jones will be assisted by returning assistant coach Jeff Collier, and new assistants Cody Amos and Keith Murdock.

“We are very thankful to have two new coaches added to our wrestling program,” Jones said. “Coach Amos is the head middle school coach and an

assistant high school coach that brings years of coaching experience to our program. Coach Murdock will act as a middle school and high school assistant coach. He too brings multiple years of coaching and wrestling experience to our program.”

After opening the season over the weekend in Paulding County, Cedartown wrestling will have their first home event on Tuesday, Nov. 16 as they take on Adairsville and Armuchee. They will travel to Coosa on Nov. 20 before taking part in the Screaming Eagle Invitational in Mount Zion on Dec. 3 and 4.

Following a meet against Model at CHS on Dec. 9, Cedartown will head to Pepperell for duals on Dec. 11 and Coosa for a tri-meet on Dec. 16.

The MatDawgs will compete in the Pickens Invitational on Dec. 18 and the Rockmart Invitational on Dec. 29. CHS will start the new year with a quad-meet at Model on Jan. 5 before heading to Area Duals on Jan. 29 at Heritage-Catoosa.

The Area Traditional meet will be held at Pickens High School on Jan. 29, Sectionals will take place at Troup High School on Feb. 5, and the State Tournament is set for Feb. 9-12 at the Macon Coliseum.

Entering year three in Polk County, Jones — who was a state champion wrestler at Darlington — said that he wants to see the program continue to make strides.

“The goal for this year is to just take another step up from previous years,” Jones said. “Advancing to team duals sectionals and having multiple wrestlers place at the state tournament is something we are working towards. If we can get everyone to buy into the program, I believe we can accomplish these goals.”

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