Playing host to one of the oldest high school wrestling tournaments in the state has given the Rockmart Jackets years of good memories of defending their home mats against some of the top talent in the region.
And in recent years it’s also given them the proper momentum to prove themselves worthy of another run at a state championship.
Rockmart’s wrestlers once again welcomed a bevy of talented wrestlers last Thursday for the 43rd annual Jacket Invitational, featuring a day of wrestling across four separate mats at times leading up to a hometown victory.
The host Yellow Jackets captured the team title 283 points with Trion (221.5) earning the runner-up spot. Model was fourth with 90 points.
Trion had taken at least a share of the team title in the tournament’s recent years, but Rockmart took a commanding points lead through the semifinals that it would not give up. Eight Jackets finished with weight class championships out of 14 divisions, with four finishing as runners-up.
Rockmart wrestling coach Drew Lindsey has seen his squad continue to put together quality finishes through the first half of the season, but knows the real tests are about to happen.
The two-time Class 3A state dual champions will start their quest for a third straight duals title this weekend, this time in Class AA, as they host the Area 7-AA Duals on Saturday. Gordon Central, Haralson County, Model, Murray County and North Murray. Cedartown will compete in the Region 7-4A Duals at Heritage-Catoosa.
“This is the season right here, from January to mid-February. This is what you work for, to get ready for area and state duals, and traditional in February. We wrestled really well today. We were able to put some extra guys in to get them some extra matches. It’s always fun to wrestle at your home gym,” Lindsey said.
“This being the 43rd year and, to my knowledge, the oldest in the state, plus it being our home tournament, we always want to do good. We haven’t won this tournament in four years, so to win it this year is a nice way to send these seniors out that have helped carry us in the last three years.”
Four of Rockmart’s seniors had a stellar day on the mats last Thursday. TK Davis pinned Gordon Lee’s Landon Brown in the 120-pound finals to remain undefeated this season at 30-0. Gunner Chambers fought off a tough Seth Huskins from Trion to take a 9-3 decision in the 126-pound finals to go to 15-0 on the season.
Jase Davis battled Gordon Lee’s Gabe Lowe for a bit in the 285-pound final before taking control and getting the pin. Davis is 37-1 so far this season. Bleu Winters meanwhile made quick work of Banks County’s Elijah Mullins for an early pin in the 138-pound final.
Rockmart’s Hagen Sharp and Cedartown’s Zack Gray met in the 113 finals with Sharp getting a pin in the second period, while Nahzir Turner picked up a championship for the Jackets at 175 pounds with a 6-1 decision over Trion’s Cohen Blaschke.
Two finals matches pitted Jacket against Jacket as Rockmart entered more than one wrestler in several weight classes.
The 106-pound final had Malachi Macedonio take a 4-2 decision over teammate Eli Bowman, while Garrett Pace and James Murray faced each other in the 132-pound final with Pace picking up the 6-4 decision.
Here is a rundown of local top finishers from the tournament:
Eli Bowman runner-up at 106
Malachi Macedonio champion at 106
Hagen Sharp champion at 113
Logan Opdycke third at 113
TK Davis champion at 120
Gunner Chambers champion at 126
James Murray runner-up at 132
Garrett Pace champion at 132
Bleu Winters champion at 138
Jayten Waddell fourth at 138
Hunter Wilson fourth at 144
Skylar Edwards runner-up at 150
Austin Wooten runner-up at 165
Nahzir Turner champion at 175
Tyler Malone third at 190
Carey Tucker fourth at 285
Jase Davis champion at 285
Tony Walker fourth at 106
Zack Gray runner-up at 113
Adam Payton third at 126