November 22, 2012

Prep wrestling: Area teams learn valuable lessons at Creek Duals

VARNELL — Winning was the goal for every team at Wednesday’s Coahulla Creek Thanksgiving Duals, but building some varsity experience early in the season might have been even more important.

“When you look at our lineup, we have 23 freshmen and sophomores on our roster,” Northwest Whitfield coach Allen Tucker said. “We brought 31 wrestlers today, and I would say 28 or 29 of them got at least two matches. We got a lot of work in, and that was what we were looking for.”

North Murray and Ringgold clashed in the championship after a day packed with two rounds of pool competition and a round of bracket matches to set up the place duals. Ringgold topped the Mountaineers 44-35 for the title.

Murray County edged Tucker’s Bruins 40-39 in the third-place match, Dalton beat the host Colts 53-24 to take fifth and Armuchee and a “tournament” team of North Murray and Armuchee junior varsity wrestlers also competed.

North Murray’s loss to Ringgold was the only one of the day for the Mountaineers. With wins over Murray County, 63-16, Coahulla Creek, 66-12, Northwest, 39-34, and Adairsville, 78-6, they put together a performance that impressed coach Steve Colley.

“I think we are a lot further ahead than I thought we were,” Colley said. “I think once we evaluate the team and look at the film we will have a little different feel, but I thought the boys put it all out there. We just have to get a few guys on weight, which really could have changed the outcome of the final match with Ringgold.”

Three different wrestlers — Elias Lechuga (132 pounds), Brandon Brock (138) and Al Fariae (285), with the latter wrestling on the tournament team — went undefeated for the Mountaineers. Alex Gambino (113), Ethan Center (170), Jeremiah Watkins (220) and Brandon Adame (285) each went 4-1.

“We were able to get a lot of matches,” Colley said. “We are still young with just two seniors, and we started six guys today who had never been in a varsity match before. None of them quit and they fought all day, and that was what I was most pleased with.”

Murray County’s Clay Thornbury (182) and Domingo Bautista (113) both went 5-0 to lead the Indians, while Tielor Johnson (132) was 4-1. The Indians beat Armuchee, 54-30, and Dalton, 51-19, in addition to their win over Northwest. In addition to their loss to the Mountaineers, the Indians also fell 46-31 to Ringgold.

But like Tucker, Murray County coach Chris Thornbury valued the experience more than the third-place finish.

“We have no state qualifiers returning from last year, but the kids are fighting hard and if they continue to work, they will get there,” he said. “We are starting out with a young group, but the kids have high expectations. The effort was really good, and I am excited about this team.”

The Bruins were led by 160-pounder Garrett Gray, who went 3-0. Henson Gibbs (113) was 4-1, while Blake Hayes (106), Justin Palmer (120), Rodrigo Martinez (182) and Victor Lopez (275) each went 3-1.

Northwest beat Coahulla Creek 53-17 and topped the tournament team 64-17. The Bruins lost 54-30 to Ringgold.

Dalton’s two defeats in the tournament came at the hands of Murray and Ringgold, both by 45-33 scores, but the Catamounts topped Armuchee 54-28, Coahulla Creek 53-24 and the tournament team 48-21.

Sidney Wheeler (195), who the Class 3A 182-pound title last season, went 5-0, as did teammate Dylan Carlile (126). Jose Garcia (138) was 4-0 for first-year coach Michael Keefe’s team.

“We got a lot of match experience and our weaknesses are starting to show through,” Keefe said. “There were a lot of reasons we lost, but most of it is experience. We have a lot to work on, and we need better effort. We can teach technique, but we have to work on our desire.”

Coahulla Creek finished 2-3, topping Armuchee 36-33 and beating the tournament team, although coach Anthony Thomas didn’t have the score for that match. Tucker Sheram (126), Alex Hefner (145) and Labron Kendrick (152) were all 4-1 for the Colts.

“You can tell from my voice that we made a lot of mistakes today,” a hoarse Thomas said afterward. “It is all right to make a mistake if you are working and trying to do something, but the real mistake is if you don’t correct that mistake as you move forward.”

• In junior varsity action for Morris Innovative, Jason Marquez turned in the biggest highlight of the day for the Tigers in a quad at the Lovett School in Atlanta.

Marquez picked up a pair of first-round pins to improve to 7-0 for the season — all of his victories for the first-year Tigers have been first-round pins — while Emmanuel Lotiffhs (126) and Nick Green (285) each had a first-round pin and David Machuca (182) also won by pin.

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