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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.

Cedartown wrestling is currently undergoing a culture change. And, to hear coach Spencer Jones put it, it’s much more of a marathon than a simple race.

“The main thing that I’m trying to do is to get the sport popular at Cedartown, and that happens by building a strong program at the middle and high school levels,” Jones said. “Most kids as freshmen have never wrestled when other schools in the area already have that tradition built. I’m trying to change that, slowly but surely, and get that to the youth here.”

Despite that challenge, the second-year head coach and former Darlington standout had a very successful debut at CHS in 2019-20. The Cedartown wrestling team made great strides and had several MatDawgs qualify for last February’s GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships in Macon.

“We had a great season last year, in my first year at Cedartown,” Jones said. “However, I only bring back two of my state qualifiers from last year’s squad.”

Sophomore lightweight Bryson Dooley (106 pounds) and heavyweight Tyler Bertero have returned. Jones described both as young leaders on the team with bright futures in the sport.

Cedartown wrestling started its season at the Screaming Eagle Invitational in early December. The MatDawgs were able to go 3-2 at the event hosted by Mount Zion, losing to Temple and Mount Zion but picking up team wins over Heard County, Landmark Christian, and Villa Rica. After losing to Armuchee on Dec. 10, the Bulldogs then split a home tri-meet on Dec. 16, falling to Rockmart and edging out Coosa.

As with any sport at any school this season, coaching in the era of COVID-19 has been a struggle for Cedartown wrestling as well.

“It’s been very different this year, just due to what all has happened,” Jones said. “I’ve had guys quarantine and have to miss weeks at a time. We’ve had entire meets canceled, too. The Rockmart Invitational (on Dec. 29) will be our first full-team tourney.

“We are a young team with potential, we just lack experience,” Jones said. “Thankfully, that is something we can build on as the season goes on.”

The 4-4 Bulldogs competed in Tuesday’s Jacket Invitational in Rockmart after press time. They will travel to Model on Jan. 5 and Bremen on Jan. 8 before returning home to host a tri-meet with Pepperell and Mount Zion on Jan. 12.

Their area duals will take place at Heritage-Catoosa High School on Jan. 16 before they compete in a tri-meet at Darlington on Jan. 20. Three days later, Jones will bring his team back to his alma mater for the Tiger Classic.

Cedartown will round out the regular season on Jan. 26 at Temple. The Area 7-4A traditional tournament will be held at Pickens on Feb. 6, one week before the state tournament at the Macon Centreplex.

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