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Bryan County wrestling makes the grade
For the second straight year, the Georgia Association of Wrestling Coaches has named the Redskins the top academic team in Class A.
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Bryan County’s wrestling program continued to show improvement on the mat this past season in its fourth year under coach Zach Ledbetter.

However, what it did on the mat almost pales in comparison to what the still fledgling program accomplished in the classroom. For the second straight year, the Georgia Association of Wrestling Coaches has named the Redskins the top academic team in Class A.

Three years ago, the Bryan County team finished second in the academic standings but took it up a notch last year and then kept it going this year as Ledbetter and his staff continue to push excellence not only in competition but in the classroom as well.

Ledbetter said his boys’ and girls’ wrestling teams posted an overall unweighted 3.85 GPA with 12 wrestlers earning All-State Academic status, seven of whom were All-State with Honors for having a 4.0 GPA.

“This is a true testament to our student-athletes buying into our program and the fundamental nature that academics come first,” Ledbetter said. “As an educator of young men and women this is one of the accomplishments I have been most proud of throughout my time as the head coach of this program.

“With the help of my assistant coaches we have established an expectation of academic excellence out of our wrestlers at every level of our program,” Ledbetter said. “It makes me proud to know they have bought into the process that we preach both on the mat and in the classroom.

“The expectations will not shift for the teams to follow. Truthfully, this is an award based on a full team effort. From top to bottom we emphasize academics come first beginning in our middle school program. It has become a selling point to our students, parents and administration.”

In Ledbetter’s first year the Redskins finished the season with five wrestlers in a sport which had no previous presence in North Bryan County. The following year a program was established in the middle school and it is now paying dividends. This past season the boys and girls wrestling teams were second only to football in numbers of participants.

The program also produced its first scholarship wrestler when Raul Parrish signed to wrestle at Andrews College.

Talent alone, Ledbetter said, is no guarantee of a spot on the team as it takes a backseat to the academic side.

“It is understood mat time is earned first in the classroom and secondly in the practice room,” Ledbetter said. “The two have always gone hand-in-hand. We hold the wrestlers to high standards in terms of their performance both physically and mentally as members of our program.

“Wrestling is a hard sport and it takes a lot of determination and work ethic to succeed in this sport.”

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