Published Friday, December 07, 2012
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Whether it’s a roster dominated by seniors or the current one where Tyler Askey may grab an even bigger spotlight than usual while entering his final varsity season, Northgate’s wrestling program continues to follow the same philosophy with its regular season schedule.
“We’ve been through the grinder already,” said longtime head coach Adrian Anderson a day after his team traveled to Grayson for varsity and junior varsity matches. “You don’t get better any other way.”
In a little more than two weeks, Northgate has already wrestled Alexander, Lee County, Southeast Whitfield and South Cobb while also coming off Saturday’s trip to Harrison High’s annual tournament in Cobb.
Despite a starting roster that has included Askey — already building on his 152 consecutive victories and three perfect years that ended in individual state titles — as the Vikings’ only senior, the Vikings haven’t backed away from the competition.
Askey, who signed last month with the University of Virginia following his three GHSA state championships and a youth career that has spawned enough national hardware to fill a small storage locker, enters his final varsity season poised to join a list of less than 25 Georgia high school wrestlers to win state titles in all four season.
Of those, however, only two have accomplished the feat without suffering a loss.
Askey is currently wrestling at 195 pounds, two classes higher than his current weight but will slowly begin coming back closer to 170 pounds near the end of the month.
Northgate’s list of returning wrestlers doesn’t end with Askey, however. Also back are junior lightweight Michael Garris, 126-pounder Ethan Ballora and 182-pounder Michael Martin.
Garris placed third at Harrison, earning retribution for a previous 1-point loss by defeating the same opponent from Lovett in a 13-4 decision. Martin also took fourth overall.
“We’re very young,” Anderson said. “Our experienced guys are doing very well. Our inexperienced guys are taking it on the chin right now. But we’re real happy with the work ethic we’ve been seeing.”
A roster dominated by underclassmen has welcomed Crawford County transfer Tristen Parker, a state qualifier in Class AA last season. The 160-pound junior finished third last weekend at Harrison.
Also finishing third was freshman Clayton Francisco at 145-pounds. Francisco was a county middle school champion last year while attending school in Fayette County.
The new faces include a pair of younger siblings of former Viking wrestlers, sophomore 220-pounder Austin Black and freshman Kyle McCloud.
“We had three or four younger guys that wrestled with the varsity [Tuesday] that could have easily won if they had wrestled JV,” Anderson said. “They’ve done a good job not getting pinned. The biggest thing is you’ve got to have fight in you.”
Both Northgate and Newnan are heading to the annual Chattahoochee Valley Wrestling Association tournament hosted by LaGrange. East Coweta is scheduled to attend the South Metro Tournament at Mt. Zion-Jonesboro.
Newnan’s lineup is led by the return of senior Andrew Sowerbrower, who is ranked among the top three wrestlers at 120 pounds in Class AAAAAA.
Attempts to reach ECHS head coach Josh Herring and Newnan head coach Tom Everett were unsuccessful.