Published Thursday, January 31, 2013
By DOUG GORMAN
(Editor’s Note: The following is the first of a group of stories previewing Saturday’s area wrestling tournaments.)
There’s plenty at stake Saturday when the county’s varsity wrestlers compete in area tournaments.
The goal for every grappler who takes the mat is earning one of four spots in their respective weight classes in order to move on to next week’s state sectionals.
East Coweta will host the Area 3-AAAAAA Tournament that includes Newnan, while the Northgate Vikings travel to Ola to take part in the Area 4-AAAAA tournament.
All eyes will be on Northgate senior Tyler Askey. The 170-pounder is hoping to finish off a what has been a perfect career over the next three weeks.
Askey, who recently signed the with the University of Virginia, has not suffered a defeat in nearly 200 career high school matches in the Georgia High School Association. His 11 wins entering the year over returning state champions is more than any other wrestler in the GHSA’s history.
Should he complete his mission, he will become only the third athlete ever in Georgia to finish his high school career unbeaten.
Askey’s run at the feat began four years ago as a freshmen when he dominated at the 140-pound division, having already been a state and national champion at the youth level. As a sophomore, he added to his wrestling resume with a state title in the 152-pound division.
Last year, Askey continued is reign on the wrestling mat with a state title in the 170-pound division. Askey didn’t wait around long to claim the top spot on the victory podium, winning his third state crown in just 67 seconds with a pin over Starr Mill’s Luke Runyan.
Newnan head coach Tom Everett would love to get all 14 of his wrestlers through to next week’s sectionals.
“It a great chance for our senior wrestlers to get one last shot at the state meet and for our younger wrestlers to see what the state tournament is all about," Everett said.
Everett is counting on the veteran leadership of Andrew Sowerbrower. Sowerbrower (120) has tournament experience and was a Coweta County Individual Champion earlier this year.
Newnan’s Nathan McGaha (132), Max Davis (145), Eric Shea (152) are also trying to make it back to sectionals. McGaha has battled back from knee surgery earlier this season and is trying for one last shot at a state title.
Everett wants some of his younger wrestlers such as Trevor Roberts (106) Andy Callaway (113) and Jason Moore (138) to get through to the sectionals.
“It’s a great opportunity for our younger wrestlers to experience what the sectionals and state tournament are all about,” Everett said.
East Coweta is hoping to get a large contingent of wrestlers through to the next round too.
The Indians have been paced this year by the lighter and middle weights. Dusty Nelson (106) and Matthew Durham (113) were both Coweta County Individual champions. Durham has made a name for himself around the state after winning the Fayette County Christmas Classic.
The Indians have also had strong showings from senior Drew Higgiins (138), who was an individual county champ earlier this season. Blake Green (132) also won a county championship earlier this year. Zack Gabriel (120) has also turned in a strong showing for the Indians.
In addition to Higgins, it will be the final chance for seniors Austin Scales, Jamal Ragland and John Guy to make a showing at the area tournament.
“My goals for this team are just to to get the most out of our guys that we can,” East Coweta head coach Josh Herring said during his team’s Senior Night festivities. “For some our our guys, that means going to area and going from there.”
Tristan Mann (195) and Dawson Ellis (285) will also get their first taste of competing at the area tournament. Mann and Elliis joined the wrestling team at the conclusion of the football season and have impressed Herring.
“They are new to the sport, but they are showing plenty of ability,” he said.
While he entered the season as Northgate’s only senior, Askey isn’t a one-man show at Northgate.
Ethan Bellora (126) and Trisitan Parker (160) were also individual county champs this season and are among the wrestlers hoping to advance to state.
East Coweta and Newnan wrestlers' sectionals will be held at Kennesaw Mountain High School. Northgate’s sectional will be held at Allatoona High School next week.
This year’s state tournament will be held at the Macon Coliseum on February 14-16.