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Athlete of the week: North Hall grappler Hawthorne makes program history at McCallie Invitational
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North Hall's Logan Hawthorne pins East Hall's Ramon Castillo during the final day of the Hall County wrestling championship at Gainesville High School on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

In the eyes of his coach, North Hall junior Logan Hawthorne is an athlete that epitomizes the Trojan wrestling way.

While sometimes unmatched in size, the 195-pound Hawthorne makes up for it with toughness and stamina. That formula helped him to pull off something no other Trojans grappler has done before him during the 38th-annual McCallie Invitational on Saturday in Chattanooga, Tenn. 

The junior impressed at one of the southeast’s most esteemed tournaments in high school wrestling, on the way to becoming the first in program history to be crowned individual champion. 

For his efforts, he is the Times’ Athlete of the Week.

“Anybody who’s ever coached at North Hall for a long time knows that how you win at North Hall is through discipline and mental toughness,” North Hall coach David Nichols said. “And Logan exemplifies that as well as anybody in our program.” 

The reigning Class 3A Duals champion Trojans also produced four additional top-three nods as they went on to place second in the 45-team tournament featuring some of the top teams from all over the southeast, including tournament host McCallie and Cleveland in Tennessee. 

On paper, three of Hawthorne’s four victories on Saturday came via pinfall, including the championship match in which he took down Carrollton’s Chase Sippola in just five minutes, 18 seconds. Hawthorne powered through the lower stages, defeating Northwest Whitfield’s James Seay (Fall 3:31), Jacob Goldfin of Oak Mountain (Fall 2:12) and Demarcus Williams of Woodland ( S-V1 3-2) in the semis, a bout that Hawthorne ultimately won through sheer grit. 

Clearly unmatched in athleticism and quickness of feet, according to Nichols, Williams captured the first two points of the match via a single takedown, though Hawthorne was able to muscle his way to an escape twice, grabbing the next two points to deadlock the match at 2-all and force overtime. 

And that’s when Hawthorne had him. Williams, clearly winded and slow to get back to the center of the mat, had already been warned by the official for stalling (a rule enforced when a wrestler fails to get back within the 10-foot circle in enough time to continue the match). In the third period, Hawthorne’s opponent would not heed the official’s message.

Nichols recalled Williams — lying on the mat exhausted — could not find his feet and return to the center, and the official tagged him for stalling, thus awarding Hawthorne the third decisive point in the extra period.

“Logan just broke the kid — physically (and) mentally,” Nichols said. The kid just did not get up and move, I mean was physically exhausted. Logan had physically and mentally worn him out.”

Hawthorne applied the same approach in the final. Against a stronger and more athletic wrestler, Hawthorne continued his pursuit. By the second period, Carrollton’s Sippola was forced to take an injury timeout, basically to catch a breath to Nichols’ surmise. And soon after the break, Hawthorne made his move to get on top and work his opponent into a pin.

The moment itself had been building up ever since Hawthorne’s joined the program as a freshman and failed to qualify for the state tournament in that first season. The upward climb to Hawthorne’s biggest individual accolade of his career comes after snagging a top-three finish at the Class 3A traditional meet as a sophomore. 

“He’s just been getting better and better. And this is just the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication,” Nichols said. ... Anybody who knows him, he’s just a humble, caring individual. ... You’d be hard-pressed to find a better kid.”

North Hall grapples seven-time state champion Gilmer County on Wednesday in Gainesville for the team’s senior and youth night. 


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