In three seasons the Bryan County High School wrestling program has come a long way under Coach Zach Ledbetter’s stewardship.
The Redskins have reached a Sweet Sixteen and had its first traditional state tournament qualifier last year in Tarrell Singleton and saw Colton Gunter and Jayden Lee qualify this year.
Singleton, unfortunately, suffered a season ending injury in the area tournament after establishing himself as one of the top wrestlers in Class A at 215 pounds.
And now Bryan County just accomplished what Ledbetter said is its biggest achievement: the Redskins have been named the Class A Georgia Wrestling Coaches Association Academic Team of the Year for the 2022-2023 school year.
The grades for a wrestler from each of the 14 weight classes were submitted to the GWCA and once everything was tallied Bryan County was first followed by Mt. Pisgah Christian and Social Circle.
“This was a goal we had from the very start of the school year,” Ledbetter said. “We finished second or third last year and Coach (Brad) Godbee and I set winning it as a goal this year.
“We kept it in front of the kids and reminded them daily of the importance of doing well in the classroom. They bought in and accepted the challenge. They did a great job and deserve all the credit.”
The team’s weighted GPA, Ledbetter said, was 3.90 and the unweighted GPA was 3.74. The weighted GPA, he explained, was with added credit for honors and Advanced Placement classes.
“Out of the 14 kids we submitted nine were named Academic All-Staters,” Ledbetter said. “Of those, six were All-State with honors. To be All-State with honors required a 4.0 GPA.”
Ledbetter withheld naming the academic all-staters, saying he was going to wait until the team’s banquet to make the announcement.
Mt. Pisgah and Social Circle are two of the top wrestling programs in Class A with Mt. Pisgah claiming the state championship in duals and Social Circle winning the state title in traditional.
As a team in its third-year of competition Ledbetter acknowledged the Redskins were not ready to compete on the mat with either of those two schools but in the classroom everyone was equal.
“If we can’t control anything else we can control academic excellence in the classroom,” Ledbetter said. “We made them aware of that every day.”
While recognizing not everyone on the team was a 4.0 student each wrestler still had expectations to be met and when they did not meet those goals they were not allowed to practice or wrestle in a meet.
“If they had to, they spent the time they would have been in the room (practicing) working on class work,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ve been able to get through to them that you have to be disciplined in both the classroom and in athletics.
“They’re learning new skills in wrestling which is a hard sport but the focus has to be on the classroom. If you want to be a college athlete or student it all starts with grades.”
Other team members include: Raina Covington, Alexis Clark, Alyssa Burnsed, India Mainer, Kaylie DaSilva, Charlie Hinely, Riley Shuman, Jayden Lee, Graysen Kirkpatrick, Brody Gunter, William Patrick, Zaedyn Janosky, Jorge Jimenez, Joshua Leach, Julian Nicholson, Josiah Coffey, Evan Cowart, James Slater, Anddreas McKiney, Jaylen Williams, Tyler Clark, Zane Renteria, Devin Murray, Raul Parrish, Carlos Arias, Trevor Wells, Rylan Hernandez, Elijah Westcott, Nathan Long, Paulo Morales, Jett Lewis and Jackson Dryer.