Ten of Commerce’s wrestlers went undefeated throughout the Tigers’ romp to a second straight state team duals title in Class A this weekend at the Macon Centreplex.
And already, Commerce coach Kendall Love has his eyes on the future.
“This season has really been something,” Love said on Saturday evening. “You feel like the target is on your back, but we have to keep the guys working harder to stay ahead of anybody else.”
Love’s team defeated Mt. Zion-Carroll 54-24 after blowing out Treutlen and Trion by more than 40 points each in the tournament’s two opening rounds.
The Tigers are now back-to-back state team duals champions after winning the title in 2014. Commerce’s Jake Brewer (113 pounds), Dalton Flint (132), Austin Brock (138), Owen Brown (145), Michael Patton (145), Chase Forrester (152), Knox Allen (160), Cole Chancey (170), Dontavious Mosley (182) and Derek Benoit (285) won each match they wrestled during the weekend’s state tournament in Macon.
Only Benoit and two other seniors will graduate this spring, according to Love, who said he has a good feeling about next year’s crop of willing wrestlers.
“I hope (we have success),” Love said. “If we stay injury-free and illness-free, we should. But our youth and middle school programs are going strong and they’re paying dividends up at varsity level.”
Jefferson High, a juggernaut in local area wrestling, breezed to a 14th consecutive duals championship over the weekend. It’s the Dragons’ first in Class AAA, which saw Jefferson rout McNair, Rockmart and Spencer before handling Sonoraville 51-22 in the final.
Lumpkin County took third place in the Class AAA state tournament with a close 1-point win over Spencer High of Columbus.
The Indians were knocked out in the second round of the winners’ bracket by the Greenwave, but pulled out four straight wins in the losers’ bracket, including a 33-32 win over Spencer, to place in the state championships.
Buford placed fourth at the Class AAAA state team duals despite falling to Marist twice over the course of three days.
The Wolves fell to the War Eagles 34-32 in the second round, which relegated Buford to the losers’ bracket. But the Area 8-AAAA runners-up went undefeated through the losers’ bracket with wins over Locust Grove, Troup and Carrollton before losing to Marist in the third-place game by 19 points.
“By that time, we kind of knew what Marist had and we kind of went the same way with them,” said Buford coach Rob Carlyle. “But they were tough. They had nine seniors in their lineup and we had three. But next year, we’ll have 11 starters coming back, and we’re really happy about that.”
Eli Hartley, Darius Bunch, Jack Barber, Trent Ferguson and Cooper Roberts went undefeated for the Wolves while Grant Simonds (5-1) and Jack Ness (4-2) also had strong performances for Buford.
North Hall fell two matches before a possible third-place bout with region rival Buford in the Class AAAA state team duals.
A 48-31 loss to eventual runners-up Northwest Whitfield put the Trojans in the losers’ bracket after routing Cook High in the opening round. But North Hall fell 48-31 to West Laurens, which ended the team’s hope for a possible rematch against Buford in the third-place match.
The Trojans upset the Wolves in last week’s Area 8-AAAA duals to claim the area title.
Gainesville fell in the second round of the losers’ bracket at the Class AAAAA team state duals. The Red Elephants were routed by eventual runners-up Cartersville Woodland High before dropping a 51-21 decision to Cass High at the Macon Centreplex. Gainesville picked up a 40-33 win in its second match against Ware County.
Kash Jones (220) went 3-0 on the weekend and was the lone Red Elephant to secure a win against Woodland, the No. 1-seeded team in the classification.
It was the first time coach Nick Niesielowski had led his Gainesville squad to the state duals. The Red Elephants will lose only five seniors on a deep roster, which gives Niesielowski hope for his team’s future.
“I definitely anticipate this being a strong team as long as the kids buy in,” he said. “The kids will get stronger and I think they can get us back in this next year.”