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Area wrestlers in search of glory at state championships
North Hall senior Michael Carew poised to take down school record
Michael Carew
North Hall senior Michael Carew could win a state title and bring down a school record with one match Saturday. - photo by For The Times

Area wrestlers competing in State Championships

Class AA

Riverside Military Academy

Quinton Monroe, 285 pounds, Sr., 17-9

Class AAA
Banks County

Devin Mullinax, 106, So., 34-4
Chris McCrackin, 138, Sr., 46-2
Chris Guthrie, 160, Jr., 24-5
Dylan Gouine, 170, Sr., 38-4
John Brooks, 182, Jr., 27-7

Dawson County

Wyatt Smith, 106, Fr., 42-4
Kelton LeBaron, 113, Fr., 31-12
Jeremy Whalen, 160, Jr., 35-8

East Hall

James Stoudenmire, 120, So., 43-11
Will Davidson, 126, Sr., 54-5
Tristan Rhodes, 138, Sr., 27-18
Joseph Smith, 170, Jr., 7-7
Kevin Thompson, 182, Sr., 25-18

Jackson County

Luke Gonzalez, 106, Sr., 49-11
Jacob Love, 126, Jr., 52-9
Chandler Saine, 132, Jr., 47-13
Jordan Williams, 138, Jr., 34-23
Connor Crump, 145, Sr., 55-5
Tyler Sosebee, 152, So., 35-22
Davey Jennings, 170, Jr., 48-17
Anthony Wingfield, 182, Jr., 31-27
Noah Breakspear, 220, So., 35-20
Stephen King, 285, Jr., 39-22

Jefferson

Ian Statia, 106, Fr., 34-1
Dawson Bates, 113, So., 39-0
Michell McGhee, 120, Sr., 39-2
Cole Potts, 126, Fr., 35-5
Tanner Thurmond, 132, Sr., 41-0
Coy Strong, 138, So., 25-12
Will Ballard, 152, Sr., 29-3
Mason Corbett, 160, Fr., 33-9
Chuck Allen, 170, Sr., 30-6
Caleb Little, 182, Jr., 42-0
Deshon Lester, 195, Sr., 35-4
Jackson Bowen, 220, Sr., 27-14
Nick Holman, 285, Jr., 36-5

Lumpkin County

Zane Poe, 113, Fr., 16-24
Logan Brown, 120, Jr., 40-6
Bradley Graff, 126, So., 12-10
Branden Garnto, 132, Jr., 22-16
Cole Hopkins, 138, Jr., 22-22
Carter Hopkins, 145, Jr., 38-14
Will Morrison, 170, Jr., 25-15
Noah Denard, 182, Jr., 27-17
Justin Cantrell, 195, Sr., 36-9
Zach Matthews, 220, Jr., 33-2

West Hall

Robbie Campbell, 120, Jr., 12-13
Eugenio Manilla, 126, Jr., 23-14
Jesse Bridgewater, 145, Sr., 15-8

Class AAAA

Buford

Logan Ashton, 106, Fr., 6-0
Kyle McCullough, 113, So., 5-2
Alcien Mendoza, 126, So., 7-3
Trent Ferguson, 138, Jr., 5-2
Jack Barber, 145, Sr., 7-0
Cooper Roberts, 152, So., 6-1
Tristan Bozoian, 160, So., 6-3
Jack Ness, 195, Jr., 6-1
Quentin Skinner, 220, Fr., 6-3
DJ Pinkard, 285, Jr., 5-2

Chestatee

Marvin Cunningham, 138, Sr., 7-0
Matthew McClellan, 145, Jr., 5-3
Jaime Arroyo, 170, Sr., 5-2
Isaac Alarcon, 182, Sr., 6-3

Johnson

Jake Holman, 220, Sr., 6-3

North Hall

Matt Glenn, 106, Fr., 6-2
Mike Rietrib, 113, Jr., 5-3
John Pedraza, 120, So., 6-3
Matthew Sewell, 138, Jr., 7-3
Michael Carew, 160, Sr., 7-0
Nick Whitmire, 170, Sr., 7-0
Isaiah Hale, 182, Sr., 7-0
Darrien Ingram, 195, Sr., 5-2
Randy Galvan, 220, Sr. 6-1
Cody Marchbanks, 285, Sr., 6-4

White County

Austin Durham, 106, Jr., 4-3
Cory Garrison, 120, Sr., 5-2
Matt Jenkins, 126, Fr., 5-1
Deejay Fleming, 285, Fr., 5-4

Class AAAAA

Flowery Branch

Ronald Link, 132, Sr., 34-8
Ian Augero, 138, Jr., 18-19
Anthony Woodall, 220, Jr., 27-9

Gainesville

Jerson Garcia, 138, Sr., 3-2
Terrell Knight, 160, Sr., 3-2
Anthony Constantini, 195, Sr., 4-2

Class AAAAAA

Habersham Central

Nolberto Chastain, 106, Fr., 45-10
Andrew Burpee, 126, Jr., 23-1

When it comes to the highest level of competition for athletes, that’s when the best shine. For those in high school, that usually means the state tournament. In wrestling, that’s no different.

For area schools, 87 athletes qualified to move on from sectionals to the Infinite Energy Arena in Gwinnett, host of this year’s championships.

The tournament begins today, with Class AAA-AAAAAA starting Round 1 at 2 p.m., and wraps up with the finals Saturday afternoon in Duluth.

For some, it’s the first trip to the state tournament. For, some it’s a repeat trip looking for their first title. For others, it’s a business trip as they try to repeat a title run for the second or even third time.

North Hall senior Michael Carew, one of six seniors competing for the Trojans, is one of those looking for a repeat championship.

“That would be a dream come true,” Carew said. “It’s always been a dream for me to win two state titles after I lost that first one. It hasn’t been done since the 80s at North Hall.”

In 2013, Carew made the state tournament as one of the top eight wrestlers in his weight class (120 pounds) for Class AAA as a freshman, but got hurt in the first round. In 2014, he wrestled 132 and lost in the AAA finals.

Last season, wrestling in Class AAAA’s 145-pound group, Carew topped the podium and took home the most meaningful of hardware.

This weekend, not only is he looking for a repeat, he’s looking for a school record.

“If I win all my matches at state, I beat the North Hall wins record by one,” Carew said.

The career wins record for the Trojans’ program is 194, held by Tyler Kratzer (2013). If all goes well, Carew could hit 195 Saturday.

“The record was set by a senior my freshman year,” Carew said. “I kept telling him I was going to break his record and now I have that chance.”

North Hall as a group placed third at the state duals and second at the area duals.

That success is something Carew said is pretty incredible considering what members of the team have overcome.

“We’ve overcome a lot,” the senior said. “Darrien Ingram (195) was in a three-week coma in the summer. Our 120 (John Pedraza) broke his femur last year and couldn’t go to state. (Nick) Whitmire (170) broke his fibula at the beginning of the season and he’ll probably make top three.

“We’ve had minor injuries, too, just like every other team, but it’s awesome that we’ve overcome all of it,” Carew continued. “We’re definitely peaking right now.”

Despite the weight of what hangs in the balance of each match this weekend, Carew said his mindset doesn’t change from last week.

“Honestly, I don’t change my mindset at all,” Carew said. “If you start thinking about it too much, you’ll get too worried. You take it one match at a time.”

Heading up Class AAA, Jefferson will continue a strong history of success as all 13 wrestlers who went through the sectionals made it to the state tournament.

“They did a real good job,” Dragons coach Doug Thurmond said. “Our area is really tough. They were keeping scores through the semis at sectionals and the top five teams were from our area. Our area is brutal, so, if they get through there, they have a good chance to get through sectionals.”

Thurmond has three wrestlers looking to repeat this season, one looking to win his second title in three years and another looking to win his third title as a junior.

Sophomore Dawson Bates (113), senior Mitchell McGhee (120) and senior Tanner Thurmond (132) are those looking to repeat.

Senior Will Ballard, who placed third last year, is wrestling in the 152-pound class and is wrestling for his second title in three years.

Junior Caleb Little is looking to win his third straight state title with his eyes on becoming just the 31st four-time champion in GHSA history. If he achieves the illustrious feat, he’ll be the fourth in Jefferson history to do so.

With that kind of experience, the Dragons will be favored to have multiple kids place in the top six. Still, coach Thurmond knows that experience doesn’t always help when you step on the mat.

“Sometimes that goes out the window,” Thurmond said. “Had you rather have it than not, heck yes. But there are some hungry guys out there. Our guys, just because they’ve won it, we can’t get complacent.”

Still, Thurmond hopes that experience helps enough kids get to a podium place so the Dragons can continue their streak of team state titles.

Jefferson has won 15 consecutive state titles at the duals and 15 consecutive titles at the traditional tournament, despite jumps in classifications. That traditional team title is up for grabs this weekend.

“We’ve been able to keep the streak going despite moving from A to AA and now AAA,” Thurmond said. “It’s going to end. We know it will. We don’t want it to, but such is life. It’s been a nice ride, but we want to keep it going.”

Last week, at the sectionals tournament, the wrestlers were looking to place well enough to put themselves in a good seeding position for the state bracket.

This week, with the title on the line essentially in every match, Thurmond said the mindset changes from trying to place high, to get to next week, to completely eliminating mistakes. Carew’s mantra of taking it one match at a time is also something the coach believes in.

“This week, there’s no mistakes,” Jefferson’s coach said. “If you want to make the finals, you have to take one match at a time and make sure you win that match. Then, win the next match and so on.”

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