February 19, 2020

Four Braves punch tickets to Macon

Pictured above are the Brave individual wrestlers who competed at Rockmart Saturday (L-R): Coach Jake Yates, Coach Kinley Cantrell, Kevin Hendrix, Sam Brown, Logan Moran, Wyn Denney, Gage Cannon, and Head Coach Kyle Yates (Not pictured: Matt Nilsen)

(Rockmart, GA) — Four Brave varsity wrestlers earned top four finishes at the Class 2A-B state sectional meet Saturday at Rockmart High School to earn individual tournament slots at the GHSA Traditional State Championships this Friday and Saturday at the 9,000 seat Macon Centreplex arena.

The sectional meet at RHS featured over 100 wrestlers competing on three mats in 14 different weight classes.

Leading the way for the Braves on Saturday was junior Logan Moran who earned his second consecutive trip to Macon with a second place finish in the 220 pound bracket after scoring pinfall victories over Alex Litchford from Harlem and Zack Dean from Banks County. These wins earned Moran a rematch in the sectional finals with rival JC Burkett from state powerhouse Armuchee, the same wrestler he battled to three overtimes with at area last weekend.

Burkett was able to pick up the pin and Moran (36-6) will enter the brackets as a No. 2 seed in Macon where he will battle senior Dearion Monroe (20-2) in the first round Friday.

Another Brave making his second straight trip to the big dance is junior Gage Cannon after a third place sectional finish in the 145 pound weight class. Cannon quickly scored the pin on Tiavonn Redfield of Josey before being upset by Gavin Brady from Early County in his second match.

Cannon (31-4) battled back to finish 3-1 on the day and earn the No. 3 seed at Macon. His opening match Friday morning will be versus Elijah Thornton (39-21) from Vidalia. Cannon finished fifth in the state in 2017.

Senior Kevin Hendrix will be making his first trip to the State Championships following a fourth place sectional finish in the 126 pound weight class.

Hendrix took down Early County’s Nolan Johnson and Banks County’s Anthony Cruz while falling to Ethan Sharpe from Pepperell and Justin Ivey from Social Circle, another strong state program. Hendrix (32-15) will face a tall task in round one Friday when he faces undefeated Ricardo Santana (55-0) from Toombs County.

Rounding out the state final qualifiers was junior Sam Brown who put forth a gutsy effort to finish in fourth place in the 195 pound class after dealing with illness early in the week.

Brown knocked off Mason Anderson from Early County and LySavion Jones from Glen Hills while falling to Terrance Walker from Banks County and Nick Jolly from Social Circle. Brown (23-8) will face junior Tahjah Watts (59-5) from Vidalia in round one at state.

Sophomore Wyn Denney scored a fifth place finish and will be an alternate at state in the 182 pound bracket. Senior Matt Nilsen also competed at sectionals in the 170 pound bracket.

“I didn’t think we had our best day and at times weren’t ready to wrestle but I am excited and proud to have these four guys going down to Macon and I think they all four have a chance to place,” said head coach Kyle Yates after the sectional meet. “I am especially proud of Sam Brown today after he battled through illness this week to get that fourth place finish.”

The road will be difficult for the four grapplers next week as they take on the very best of the best in the state of Georgia.

Heard County High School has never fielded a state champion wrestler. The strongest finish was by Matt Brown who brought home a second place medal after a close title match loss in 2015.

High school wrestling is a truly different kind of sport that only draws toughest and most disciplined kinds of athletes.

Tremendous sacrifices to make weight and the physical and mental toughness required to excel through long and grueling tournaments are just some of the aspects of what it takes to earn a chance to reach the State Championships as one of the top eight in the entire state for each of the weight classes.

The first round gets underway Friday morning at 10:00 AM at the Centreplex and will conclude with the finals matches on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM. The top six finishers in each weight class earn a state medal.

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