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High school wrestling: Several area players earn state titles at traditionals
White County's Morris wins for second straight year
White County junior Caleb Morris puts a move on Locust Grove’s Jared Benefield in the 130-pound division of the Class AAA traditional state championship on Saturday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Morris defeated Benefield 7-6 for his second consecutive state title. - photo by LILY MCGREGOR | For The Times

State placers

Local finishers

Banks County – Mason Patton, 112 (sixth), Justin Fincannon ,135 (fourth), Jeremy Greenway (160), sixth.

Buford – Chris Boulware, 135 (sixth), Chip Ness, 152 (first).

Chestatee – Jose Reyes, 103 (fifth), Daniel Moreno, 171 (fifth).

Commerce— Cody Legg, 103 (second), Drew Whitfield, 119 (fifth), Josh Westmoreland, 130 (fifth), Greyson Cochran, 135 (sixth), Addison Davis, 160 (second), Chance McClure, 189 (first), Sergio Rojas, 285 (fourth).

Dawson County – James Evans, 112 (second).

Flowery Branch – Nick Lankford, 119 (fourth).

Habersham Central – Coleman Cunningham, 140 (sixth).

Jackson County – Ryan Shekey, 130 (fourth), Davion Ledford, 171 (sixth), Austin McDonald, 215 (first).

Jefferson – Kyle Kashuba, 103 (third), Josh Harris, 112 (third), Isaac Kelly, 119 (second), Cason Thurmond, 125 (fifth), Clay Richardson, 130 (fifth), Jack Dollar, 135 (third), Cain Finch, 145 (first), Jake Sherman, 152 (second), Forrest Przybysz ,171 (first), Zach Allen, 215 (third).

Johnson – Daniel Martinez, 285 (sixth).

Lumpkin County – Michael Hilliard, 152 (fourth), Lee Cagle, 160 (second), Travis Burton, 215 (first).

North Hall – Shane Doster, 171 (fourth), Lee Sisson, 189 (sixth).

West Hall – Tanner Yates, 140 (sixth), Logan Herford, 145 (third).

White County – Caleb Morris, 130 (first).

Towns County – Timothy Collier, 135 (fifth).

DULUTH — White County junior Caleb Morris had a wide array of emotions after winning the Class AAA traditional state championship at 130 pounds on Saturday at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. He was excited to repeat after winning it all at 125 last season, but didn’t have the same giddy feeling that came with winning his first traditional championship.

“It’s totally different winning this year,” said Morris after earning a 7-6 decision in his favor against Locust Grove’s Jared Benefield. It was the third match this season between these two grapplers.

Morris, the school’s only state champion wrestler, earned the state title after weathering a call for a locked arm that gave Benefield two points and tied the score at 5. According to White County coach Tim Bragg, Morris knew at that point he would have to be aggressive to earn the win.

“I feel like I dominated the match more than the score indicated,” Morris said. “I know I wrestled my best, he wrestled his best and I was able to earn the win.”

Now, he’s got one more season to see if he can make it a three-peat.

“White County has done awesome in all sports this season,” Morris said. “I just want to do my part to keep it going.”

Buford freshman Chip Ness, still two months shy of turning 15, won the state title at 152 in Class AA. In the finals, he defeated Jefferson’s Jake Sherman by a 7-5 decision. A self-described underdog, Ness entered the season with the hopes of just placing at state, but that changed once he tasted success.

“As I went along and started winning some matches, I said ‘why settle for sixth place?’” Ness said.

Ness’ road to the state championship included a pair wins this weekend by major decision as part of his undefeated 36-0 season.

Lumpkin County High senior Travis Burton also walked away with his first state title. Burton took a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period on a technical violation and earned the title at 215 in Class AAA against Allatoona’s Bryson Brindle.

After not placing at state last season due to a knee injury, Burton made it back to Gwinnett with the bulk of his time spent practicing against teammate and 160-pounder Lee Cagle, who finished as a state runner-up.

“Lee’s got one more year left and I know he’ll win it next year,” Burton said.

Meanwhile, Jefferson didn’t have the same depth in the finals as when it had seven individual state champions and notched its 10th consecutive state championship in Class AA a year ago.

However, the Dragons entered four wrestlers in the finals and garnered state titles from Cain Finch (145) and Forrest Przybysz (171). In the finals, Isaac Kelly (119) and Jake Sherman finished as runner-up. That was enough to win the program’s 11th straight state title with 196.5 points, 19.5 ahead of second-place Sonoraville.

“We have duals next weekend and trying to make it 10 there, but this one is the grand daddy because its (traditionals) been around for ever,” Dragons coach Doug Thurmond said. “Our kids didn’t want to break the chain of what the program has achieved in years before.

“This was a total team effort.”

Thurmond says that the state title was locked up in the wrestlebacks earlier in the day. Jefferson finished 6-0 in third and fifth-place matches, including wins from Kyle Kashuba (103, third), Josh Harris (112, third), Cason Thurmond (125, fifth), Clay Richardson (130, fifth), Jack Dollar (135, third) and Zach Allen (215, third).

In Class A, Commerce finished third with a state championship from Chance McClure (189) and second place finishes from Cody Legg (103) and Addison Davis (160).

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