High School Wrestling

Indians, Cougars head into 3-AAAAAA Duals

by Doug Gorman

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Garrett Kliinger and Ladontae w, below, battle during the first meeting of the season between East Coweta and Newnan wrestling teams last month at 145 pounds. 

East Coweta and Newnan are carrying some momentum into a collision course heading into today's Area 3-AAAAAA Duals.

The two programs will meet at least once in a round-robin format with the potential for more considering both have performed well over Christmas break. East Coweta competed at the annual Fayette County Christmas Classic while placing two wrestlers among the top-3 in a tournament that included more than 30 schools.

Newnan, meanwhile, bounced back from a tough outing at the Northgate Duals to win a first-place trophy at the Dariel Daniel Duals in Troup, finishing 4-1 and edging host Troup with 233 points to the Tigers' 225.

East Coweta, which won this year's Coweta County Championships, and Douglas County, which captured a title at the six-team Northgate Duals that also included Newnan, expect to be among today's favorites when action begins at today's 3-AAAAAA Duals around 9 a.m. in Douglasville.

Zack Gabriel and lightweight Dusty Nelson are coming off third-place finishes in respective weight classes at the Fayette Christmas Classic.

Northgate also heads to Starr's Mill for today's Area 4-AAAAA Duals, having also competed in Fayette last weekend on the heels of its host duals tournament. Michael Martin led the Vikings with a sixth-place finish at 220 pounds.

Today's top-two finishers advance to next week's GHSA State Duals in Macon.

In the first meeting between county rivals at last month's Coweta County Championships, the Indians defeated Newnan 56-21.

'We have to attack every situation,' Newnan first-year coach Sean Hage said. We have to take advantage of our opportunities.'

After it's performance last week at Dariel Daniel Duals at Troup County High School, the Cougars have picked the perfect time to fire on all cylinders.

Newnan went 4-1 at the six-team meet to capture the first-place trophy.

Northside-Columbus, which was third with 220 points, also was in the field at Troup with Bowdon, Berkmar and Jonesboro.

After losing to Troup earlier in the year, Newnan used four pins to pull out a 42-41 win over the Tigers while taking advantage of three forfeits. Troup won the other seven contested matches but settled for decisions in the majority.

Christian Shellabarger, who normally wrestlers in the 220-division, moved up to 285 and helped lead Newnan to the win.

Sophomore Jacob Shay, who had been out for much of the early season with a concussion was a standout at 126 pounds and Chris Grier (132), Lucas Keith (220), Trey Goggins (195) all had solid performances while Nick Robinson has been steady at 170 pounds.

The Cougars are finally getting healthy heading into the major stretch of the season. The next month will consist of region duals and individual tournaments, the latter scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1, at East Coweta's John Thrower Gym.

'It's been tough to get everybody on the same page,' Hage said. 'Now, we are all working together, and it is paying off.'



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