By Mike Brown
When Colton Gunter was a freshman he played No. 1 singles on the Bryan County tennis team despite looking barely big enough to get the ball over the net.
It would have been easy for an opponent to overlook Gunter which often proved to be a mistake on their part.
Gunter above everything else is an excellent athlete and a competitor to the end. There’s no give up in his 130-pound plus body as wrestling opponents have been learning this season.
As a senior Gunter – who is also a member of the school’s clay shooting and fishing teams – is a mainstay and team captain at 138 pounds on the Redskins third-year wrestling team.
This is Gunter’s second-year wrestling – he had to be talked into it by Coach Zach Ledbetter --and he took to the sport as if he had been doing it all his life.
“I started last year,” Gunter said. “They told me I would be good at it. I was looking to do something where I could get tougher and it seemed like fun so I decided to give it a try.”
Gunter wrestled last year at 126 pounds. At his size he was limited when it came to playing a physically and mentally demanding sport such as football that would better prepare him for his goal of becoming a Army officer.
Wrestling was the obvious choice and with encouragement from Ledbetter, assistant coach Brad Godbee and his new teammates he took the plunge and never looked back.
The goal of becoming an Army officer became more of a reality when Gunter recently was offered and accepted a full ROTC scholarship to attend the University of North Georgia which is the state’s military college. He is a Battalion Commander with the Bryan County JROTC program.
“Colton is a born leader,” Ledbetter said. “He works hard at everything he does and will be successful in what path he chooses in the future. He has been a positive impact on our team.”
Gunter was 3-0 last week when the Redskins finished third in the Area 3 duals tournament which qualified them to wrestle in last Saturday’s sectional tournament where they lost to St. Francis, 52-24.
Jett Lewis (285), Carlos Arias (190), Kam Boggs (175) and Riley Shuman (113) had wins. Tarrell Singleton (215) was unable to wrestle due to a knee injury he suffered in the area tournament.
This season will mark the end of Gunter’s wrestling career. The Nighthawks do not have a wrestling team but they do have rifle which competes at the Division I level in the Southern Conference. UNG’s other sports compete at DII in the Peach Belt Conference.
“I’m doing this for fun,” Gunter said of wrestling. “I’ve progressed a lot. The first year you learn the moves and muscle memory and then you work at getting better.
“It’s all about perseverance and the motivation to keep going,” Gunter said. “Last year I just knew I was getting something out of it: I was getting stronger and I was learning to wrestle.
“Mental toughness goes a long way and wrestling is one of the most mentally challenging sports you’ll come across.”
The Redskins will now turn their attention to preparing for the traditional tournament which is individual competition whereas duals is team based.