(Barnesville, GA)- After the dust was settled and the mat cleared last weekend at the GHSA Class AA wrestling sectionals in Lamar County, only two Braves remained in the hunt for state titles, Senior Hank Barnes and Junior Taron Person.
Barnes began the day by winning his fifth and sixth consecutive postseason matches versus opponents from Westminster and Murray County before facing Corey Erdoes, the state’s top ranked wrestler in the class (182-pounds).
Barnes dropped the finals match to the Lovett star but may very well get another shot at him in Macon this weekend where the State Championships are being held Friday and Saturday. Barnes, as one of the top four competitors at the two sectional events held last week, will now advance to the Elite Eight at the Macon Centreplex.
Junior Taron Person
In the heavyweight class (285+), Taron Person battled back from a first round loss at sectionals by winning his next two matches, bringing home a strong third place finish and advancing the largest Brave wrestler to the state finals.
Person will take on Eric Wilson from Social Circle in his quarterfinal bout.
In a sport where weight equality is so important, the heavyweight class is the exception allowing all wrestlers above 285 pounds to compete.
Looming large in round two for Person will be Bremen’s undefeated Joe Bexley.
Barnes will be challenged in the quarters by JD Rogers of Toombs County.
Head Coach Justin Ransom likes the chances of a strong finish for both his guys in Macon. ”Now that they have reduced the size of the state bracket from 16 qualifiers to eight this year, it makes qualifying for the final weekend that much harder. We are in a great position in our brackets at state. We have worked extremely hard to get where we are at now,” stated Ransom.
“I see both Taron and Hank on the podium come Saturday. I believe that Hank has a shot to make the finals and get a rematch with the Lovett kid (Edroes). I have no doubt in my mind that we can end the tournament with two placers, possibly both in the top three. We have never been two placers in the same year from Heard County; it’s time to change that!”
Person and Barnes will both be aiming for Kyle Yates record state finish of fourth. Yates, one of the Braves assistant coaches in both football and wrestling, got the fourth place finish in his senior year of 2006 improving on a strong fifth in 2005.
Another senior, Cody Stephens, finished fifth at sectionals and will travel to Macon as an alternate. Andrew Cannon, Tori Rogers, Jordan Timmons, Ta Freeland, and Matt Brown each failed to qualify for state but after such strong finishes to the season each are expected to contend next year. All five wrestlers are underclassmen.