At the state wrestling tournament this past weekend in the Atlanta area, the Richmond High School wrestling team, in its very first year as a varsity program, turned in two victories while Richmond Hill resident and Benedictine student Ryan Gregory won the Class AAA 160-pound state title.
Gregory is the first ever state wrestling champ from Savannah and the second ever to hail from Chatham. Two of his teammates finished as runners-up to place BC sixth overall in the state tournament.
"Ryan dominated that tournament," BC Coach Joe Tvrdy said. "He pinned his way to the finals and won his final round match with a technical fall after gaining a 15-point lead against Hardaway's Trevione Hudson."
Tvrdy said he was a little worried going into the finals because Gregory’s opponent had a different style than what he was accustomed to. Tvrdy said Gregory forced his opponent to contend with his style by taking him down to the mat as opposed to staying on their feet.
"Ryan’s victory is a victory for our program," Tvrdy said. "The Southeast corner doesn’t typically get the amount of respect that is usually associated with the Atlanta area teams, so this will help the area as a whole."
In December, Gregory signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Belmont-Abbey College. Tvrdy said he stands a chance of being a starter, which would be quite an accomplishment for a freshman.
"If he keeps learning and improving on his technique, his strength and aggressiveness could take him to the All-American level," Tvrdy said. "I could see that happening within a couple years."
Meanwhile, RHHS Coach Rick Bond said his team performed well in their state matches.
"Every coach wants to do better – but, looking back on the season, I can see we got to level we could compete which is a wonderful accomplishment. A lot of people came up to me during the tournament and wanted to know what ‘RH’ stood for. When I said ‘Richmond Hill’, they told me how they heard that we are an up and coming program and I think that is something the boys should be very proud of. We’re in a tough region, but it’s now our goal to turn the balance of power in the years to come to be more dominant."
145-pound Mat Cat John Phifer, fresh off his area championship title victory at the region tourney in South Effingham, pinned a Spalding wrestler in the first round at state. He bowed out in the next round after losing a 6-3 decision to a Carrollton grappler.
The other state tournament win came from 160-pounder David Yin who pinned a Westminster wrestler. The tide turned in the next round when he got pinned by a wrestler from Pickens High School.
Five other wrestlers earned the right to compete at state, but were eliminated after the first round. They are Frankie Salas (125 pounds), Steven Gray (130 pounds), Michael Zhu (140 pounds), Jacob Fox (152 pounds) and Lance Owens (189 pounds).