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Riverside Academy junior bringing back wrestling tradition
Riverside Military Academy’s Chris Harvey, bottom, and Nicholas Thompson work out in the school’s field house Wednesday afternoon as the team prepares to advance to sectionals.

High school wrestling

State traditional sectionals

Class A

Riverside Military: Chris Harvey (120 pounds), Nicholas Thompson (138), William Parvin-Asher (285), John-Mark MacFarlane (182)

Commerce: Cody Legg (113), Nick Henderson (120), Johnny McAbee (132), Josh Westmoreland (138), Greyson Cochran (145), Trent Reddish (152), Tyreke Wiggins (160), Thomas Sweeney (170), Cole Sweeney (182), Brian Whitfield (195), Chance MClure (220)

Class AA

East Hall: Edward Vergara (145), Carlos Negron (152), Tyler Thomas (182), JD Holloway (285)

Jefferson: Chase Piperato (106), Kyle Kashuba (113), Josh Harris (120), Tyler Marinelli (126), Isaac Kelly (132), Clay Richardson (138), Jack Dollar (145), Cain Finch (152), Jake Sherman (160), Jace McColskey (170), Forrest Przybysz (182), Carson Newman (195), Aaron Anderson (220)

Banks County: Taylor Wood (106), Gabriel Espinosa (113), Mason Patton (120), Francisco Hurtado (126), Tony Fultz (138), Tristen Guthrie (152), Eli Smallwood (170), Matthew Dilbeck (182), Philip Dean (195), Joe Denton (220), Tyler Flanagan (285)

Jackson County: Michael Shekey (106), JT Wood (113), Zach Moore (120), Conner Andreasen (126), Bryan Burnette (145), Daivon Leford (160), Lane Robertson (170)

Dawson County: Cory Jenkins (132), Preston Adams (160), Evan Kells (182), Keaton Toal (220)

Buford: Eric Lisiakowski (113), Brayden Hartley (120), Bo Baldwin (138), Chip Ness (170), Dima Aquero (182), Michael Padozzi (220)

Class AAA

Chestatee: Jose Reyes-Lavallee (106), Bartolo Velasquez (113), Christian Zapatero (126), Cody Etris (138), Taylor Wright (152), Kyle Wesley (160), Oscar Campos (170), Dylan Brock (195)

Lumpkin County: Greg Hillard (106), Alex Ward (120), Robert Harris (126), Daniel Locklear (138), Michael Hillard (160), Lee Cagle (170), Zack Kile (285)

North Hall: Taylor Marett (106), Matt Joy (113), Tyler Goss (120), Andy Voss (132), Tyler Kratzer (138), Cam Howell (220)

Gainesville: Frank Preyer (113), Evan Maine (145), Jake Graham (160), Caleb Mosley (182), Damion Grayson (220)

White County: Anthony Gallimore (126), Wil Stonecypher (152), Anthony Hooper (170), Andrew Posten (182)
Johnson: Tommy Luc (120), Jose Martinez (195)

West Hall: Elliot Raiford (132), Eric Camacho (182), Victor Pham (195)

Class AAAA

Flowery Branch: Ben Horton (120), Zach Winter (126), Nick Lankford (132), Caleb Murphy (138), Eli Bloomfield (160), Anthony Williams (170), Grant Simonds (195), Keaton Coker (285)

Habersham Central: Austin Comeck (106), Sam Martin (120), Coleman Cunningham (145), Jeremy Trottham (152), Dylan Jones (220)

Riverside Military Academy junior Chris Harvey says, with no hesitation, that he is proud to wrestle for the Eagles.

Even with the historically dominant program going through a rough patch, the 120-pounder and team captain from
Macon is committed to leaving the program better than it was.

In the first part of the season, the Riverside captain who is ranked No. 3 in his weight class in Class A, helped lead the team to some big dual match wins while compiling a 36-6 record.

“It’s been a while since we had a strong team, but this is one of the better teams I’ve been on since I’ve been here,” Harvey said. “We’re slowly making our way back up there.”

Now the focus is on the individual wrestlers as traditional sectional tournaments gear up today and Saturday, including the Riverside wrestlers’ destination, the Class A East Sectionals at Telfair County High.

Harvey is determined to continue his recent run of success.

“This past weekend I was the region champion, and I’m going into sectionals as a first seed, so I’m looking to get first in sectionals as well and place top four in state,” Harvey said. “Next year’s a very strong possibility (for a state title); I’m looking to do as much training as I’ve ever done this summer.

“I’m going to go for it this year, but I’m really going for the gold next year.”

Not only is Harvey big on helping prepare the younger wrestlers in the program, he wants to get Riverside Military Academy back in the spotlight.

“I take pride in where I come from and I’m glad where I go to school,” Harvey said. “It’s a good thing to know that I’m getting my school back in the sport.”

It wasn’t that long ago that Riverside Military Academy wrestling was the dominant force in the Georgia Independent Schools Association.

Since returning to the GHSA in 2008 after a six-year absence, however, the Eagles have had a tough time getting back to such prominence.

“The GISA was a nice league for us — we were in it for six years and won five state championships,” said Riverside wrestling coach Errol Bisso. “But we wanted to get back into GHSA. The competition’s better, and the added travel in GISA was a big deterrent to staying.”

The Eagles may not be in reach of the same sort of dominance in GHSA, but Bisso sees the program improving.

Riverside made a strong appearance at the Hall County Championships earlier in the year, led by Harvey, who fell one match short of a top finish in his weight class.

Many of those teams the Eagles faced are sending wrestlers to sectionals as well, including eight each from Chestatee and Flowery Branch.

Riverside has four wrestlers headed to sectionals. Three of the four wrestlers are underclassmen, including Harvey and 138-pound sophomore Nicholas Thompson, both of whom won area championships last weekend.

Senior William Parvin-Asher finished third at 285 and sophomore John-Mark MacFarlane (182) finished fourth in the area tournament.

“We do not have the wrestlers we were getting (during 2000s run),” Bisso said. “But it’s getting better now.”

One thing that the Eagles are still looking for is a GHSA state champion, something that has eluded the program since its return.

Bisso has coached numerous third- and fourth-place finishers and had a runner-up at heavyweight two years earlier.

Harvey could be best poised to break that barrier before he leaves the academy.

“He’s got a shot,” Bisso said.

Only Harvey knows better than most just how important it is to get through sectionals first.

“I was still caught up in not giving it 100 percent, some of the matches I wouldn’t push as hard as I could,” Harvey recalled. “I just kind of psyched myself out.”

As a freshman Harvey made it to state, but last season he finished fifth at sectionals, one spot from getting a ticket to the state tournament.

“All it takes is one lapse of concentration and your out,” Bisso said.

Also, once a wrestler reaches sectionals, nearly every opponent is a tough out on the mat.

“It’s a completely different atmosphere than anything else,” Harvey said. “Once you get to sectionals and once you get to state, it’s going to be the luck of the pin or one-point matches either way.”

So the junior has dedicated himself even more this year to ensure that he finds himself on the right side of those one-point matches this time around.

“They say that practice makes perfect, and I don’t limit myself in practice,” he said. “And I don’t hold back.”

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