Brian Edwards, East Hall: Averaged 17 points in wins over Banks County, Fannin County and Gainesville.
J.C. Hampton, East Hall: Averaged 16.7 points in wins over Fannin County and Gainesville.
Marissa Ivey, Flowery Branch: Scored 21 points in a win over Clarke Central.
Tavia Sykes, Flowery Branch: Scored 16 points in a win over Clarke Central.
Kaela Davis, Buford: Scored 25 points in a win over Decatur.
Kyle Kellam, Buford: Scored 20 points in a win over Decatur.
Rebecka Merritt, Union County: Scored 18 points in a loss to Rabun County.
Mary Kate Rushton, North Hall: Scored 16 points in a loss to White County.
Ebo Smith, North Hall: Averaged 18 points in wins over White County and Franklin County.
Shaquan Cantrell, Gainesville: Scored 24 points in a win over Lanier; scored 16 in a loss to East Hall.
Adrian Humphrey, Riverside Military: Scored 20 points in a loss to Commerce.
Thomas McMillan, Commerce: Scored 33 points in a win over Riverside Military.
Matt Hollis, Johnson: Averaged 21.5 points in wins over Lanier and Oconee County.
Stephanie Patton, Towns County: Scored 19 points in a win over Lakeview Academy.
Ceely Coker, Buford: Scored 16 points in a win over Cross Keys.
Deshaun Watson, Gainesville: Scored 20 points in a loss to East Hall.
Austin Pearson, Lakeview Academy: Scored 24 points in a win over Commerce.
Austin Montgomery, Lakeview Academy: Scored 22 points in a win over Commerce.
Austin Thompson, Jefferson: Scored 23 points in a win over East Jackson.
Carly Gilreath, Dawson County: Scored 19 points in a loss to Rabun County.
Michael Hillard, Lumpkin County: Won an individual championship at the Area 8-AAA traditionals.
Lee Cagle, Lumpkin County: Won an individual championship at the Area 8-AAA traditionals.
Alex Ward, Lumpkin County: Won an individual championship at the Area 8-AAA traditionals.
Tyler Kratzer, North Hall: Won an individual championship at the Area 8-AAA traditionals.
Cam Howell, North Hall: Won an individual championship at the Area 8-AAA traditionals.
Andrew Posten, White County: Won an individual championship at the Area 8-AAA traditionals.
Compiled by David Mitchell
Chestatee wrestler Bartolo Velasquez still can’t find the right words to describe his experience at the Area 8-AAA traditionals last weekend.
“It was amazing,” he said. “There was a lot of happiness and relief at the same time. I don’t know — it’s hard to explain.”
The loss for words is understandable considering no War Eagle wrestler in the 113-pound class has ever accomplished what he did.
Velasquez, a junior, became the first 113-pounder in Chestatee history to win an individual area title. The win, which he clinched by pinning North Hall’s Matt Joy in the finals, gave the team its only individual title in the tournament.
It was just an exclamation point to his performance, in which he pinned every opponent he faced.
And, as a top-four finisher, Velasquez will move on to compete in the sectionals, which begin Friday at West Laurens High, with a chance to advance to the state meet.
For his efforts, he has been selected as The Times Athlete of the Week.
Chestatee coach Carey Whitlow, describing his faith in Velasquez, said he knew his wrestler would live up to the lofty expectations that came with being named a No. 1 seed prior to the start of the tournament.
Despite having some difficult matches recently, the coach said there was no doubt in his mind that Velasquez would perform well.
“It was his time,” Whitlow said. “Some kids are just happy to get some time out of school and the chance to wrestle at these events. But he was there to win.
“In our minds, he was the best guy in his class, and we were thrilled he was able to prove it.”
Velasquez’s journey to success in the tournament, and others, begins on the mat every day after school with teammate Jose Reyes-Lavallee, Chestatee’s 106-pound wrestler.
The two, close in size, partner together for practice and continue to push each other harder. The product in competitions for both is hard to ignore.
“They drill hard together,” Whitlow said of the tandem. “They fit. They work well together. In wrestling, you’re only as good as your partner, and what they’ve been able to do this year is proof of that.”
Velasquez said the same thing, noting that his success comes from his work with his partner.
“We go hard every day,” he said. “We both want to be No. 1, so we wrestle harder to become better. We want to be those guys that can both do well.”
Simply having a good partner isn’t enough, though, Whitlow said.
It comes down to having the work ethic, drive and willingness to do what it takes to improve. Those traits, Whitlow said, describe Velasquez.
“He is a hard worker,” he said. “He goes above and beyond. He’s a tough cookie — never gives up.”
In order to advance to state, Velasquez must finish in the top eight at sectionals.
But to him, even that may not be good enough.
“I want to make the top three,” he said. “I just plan to do great. I want to win, but the goal is to make state first.”
And again, Whitlow is overflowing with confidence.
“He’s worked his tail off, and he’s not done yet. He’s going (to state),” the coach said. “I have all the confidence in him. He just needs to do what he does.”