July 21, 2018

Braves place 4th at Area Duals

Pictured above are those Brave wrestlers who weighed in for the Area Dual meet at HHS. (Kneeling L-R): Caleb Phillips, Matt Cole, Luke Alsop, Eli Fairbanks, Gage Cannon, and J.T. Thornton (Standing L-R): Elijah Hollingsworth, Cody Hand, Michael Cheney, Logan Moran, Wyn Denney, Jakob Moon, Riley Dietrich, Matt Nilsen, Sam Brown, Kevin Hendrix, Coach Kinley Cantrell, J.D. Blakely, Logan Kidder, and head coach Kyle Yates (Not pictured: Coach Jake Yates)

(Franklin, GA) — The Braves hosted the Class AA Area 3 Dual wrestling meet this weekend and earned a fourth place finish after competing in matches versus four geographical opponents from the northwest Georgia area.

The Braves knocked off Dade County and Pepperell but two losses to area champion Rockmart and area runner-up Armuchee left the Braves out of the top two spots. Chattooga finished in third place.

A total of nine teams competed at the two day event but only the top two placers advanced to the state dual meet that takes place in Macon this upcoming weekend.

The Braves battle hard in Friday evening’s opening quarterfinal match with Rockmart falling 42-38 to the Yellow Jackets. The Braves had the best showing of the tourney against the eventual champs who dominated both of their other match-ups.

The Braves rebounded late Friday night with an emphatic 73-6 win over Dade County to keep state hopes alive heading into day two.

The Braves again had a strong showing in a Saturday morning match-up with Pepperell coming out on top 40-36 after a huge pinfall win by freshman Luke Alsop (113) in the final match.

Following the win over the Dragons, the Braves needed a win over perennial powerhouse Armuchee and a loss by Chattooga to earn a chance to wrestle for a “true second place” and a trip to Macon but were unable to overcome the Indians in a back and forth tilt that saw the Indians come out on top 48-33.

Rockmart knocked off Chattooga 45-25 to earn the Area 3 title and Armuchee upended Chattooga 40-39 to secure the final spot in Macon.

The Braves had several strong individual performances during the duals including senior Kevin Hendrix and junior Logan Moran who each finished at 4-0.

Brave wrestlers picking up three wins during the meet included senior Matt Nilsen, juniors Sam Brown, Gage Cannon, J.T. Thornton, and Jakob Moon along with  sophomore Wyn Denney.

Logan Moran, J.T. Thornton, and Wyn Denney each finished with tournament titles at the Silva Invitational in Lagrange December 29-30. As a team, the Braves had another strong showing with a third place finish at the Callaway Classic on December 21.

Heard County’s 2017 Gary Silva Invitational Champions L-R: Wyn Denney, Logan Moran, and J.T. Thornton

Brave head coach Kyle Yates was pleased with the way his guys competed especially on day two.

“We lost a couple of swing matches early versus Rockmart Friday night that I thought we had a chance to win but we came back and wrestled well against Dade and I thought we did our best wrestling in the final two matches on Saturday,” said Yates after the meet.

“We came out on the short end against Armuchee but getting that pin from our freshman Alsop to win it over Pepperell was big for us.”

The attention now turns from the team to the individual in the traditional state tournament.

“I think we have 8-10 guys that can make it out of traditionals this year,” says Yates. “Now we have to shift our focus onto these individual guys and making sure we get them competing in the right weight classes for them to give them the best shots at state.”

Yates is pleased to see the program growing with more guys participating each year.

“We weighed in about 20 for this tournament and we have about 30 in the program now which we think is really good. We have a junior heavy team this year so we think we will have a good shot to compete as a team again next year,” added Yates.

The traditional state tournament where each wrestler competes individually will begin in two weeks with the Class AA Area 3 meet at Armuchee High School January 26-27.

The top four finishers in each weight class will advance to the state sectional meet at Rockmart High February 2-3 where the top four in each of the 14 weight classes will earn a chance to compete at the GHSA State Wrestling Championships February 8-10 at the Macon Centreplex.

Gage Cannon finished in fifth place at state last year and could be a strong contender this year to win Heard County’s first ever individual state wrestling title.

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