By Mike Brown.
Wrestling usually finds itself pushed into the background with basketball hogging the spotlight.
However, attention will be focused on Richmond Hill and Bryan County wrestlers this weekend as they compete in the state traditional tournament Thursday through Saturday at the Macon Coliseum.
The Wildcats qualified 12 wrestlers in last Saturday’s Class 6A area traditional tournament held at Brunswick High School.
Tate Evans, ranked No. 1 in the state at 170 pounds, led the Wildcats contingent as he won his weight class to put himself in excellent position to claim a state title.
Bryan County got a shot in the arm for its startup program when sophomore Tarrell Singleton took first-place at 220-pounds and 145-pound junior Johnathan Wanzer took second to also advance to the state.
The top three finishers in all classes qualified for the state tournament. Redskins freshman Raul Parrish suffered the ultimate disappointment when he was pinned while leading 7-2 in his third-place match. Parrish is an alternate and will wrestle if someone is forced to drop out.
This is the first year of wrestling for Bryan County and Coach Zach Ledbetter could hardly contain himself when he talking about Singleton and the progress of his team.
“Tarrell has come on strong the last two weeks,” Ledbetter said. “He’s starting to understand the technique. With the exception of Johnathan none of these kids had ever seen a wrestling match before we started back in November.”
Wanzer had wrestled at South Effingham the last two years before transferring to Bryan County. Ledbetter said he took five wrestlers to the area traditional and four of them claimed wins. Freshman Jet Lewis won his first match to join Singleton, Wanzer and Parrish in the winner’s circle.
In addition to Evans other Wildcats wrestlers who will be going to state as an area winner and looking for a shot at a state title are Brandon Langley (152), Anthony Taylor (160) and Jackson Crawford (126).
Richmond Hill’s other qualifiers include Colin Dragon (106), Hunter Cash (113), Roman Slaughter (120), Zacharia McQuillan (145), Dylan Tucker (182), Caleb Gonser (195) and Thomas Crawford (220).
In hoops, Bryan County’s boys will finish sixth in Region 3-A after losing at Screven County, 60-50, on Tuesday night and Coach Brent Anderson’s team will take on McIntosh County Academy Tuesday at Jenkins County at a time to be determined. A win would have them playing Emanuel County Institute for a state playoff berth.
On the girls side nothing will be determined until the conclusion of play this week as teams are playing makeup games.
The Redskins girls (9-10) are tied for third-place going into a 6 p.m. game Thursday at home against first-place Claxton. Bryan County lost, 50-47, at second-place Screven on Tuesday.
“If we could finish third or fourth we would get a first round bye,” Coach Mario Mincey said. “That would be amazing considering how we started (0-7).”
A win over Claxton would assure a third-place finish but a loss, coupled with Jenkins County beating MCA, projects to a fifth-place finish and opening round game against McIntosh. Jenkins County is also hosting the girls region tournament.