Brave sectional qualifiers (L-R): Coach Kyle Yates, Logan Moran, Gage Cannon, Wyn Denney, Luis Vasquez, Sam Brown, Kevin Hendrix, Coach Jake Yates
(Rome, GA) — The Braves varsity wrestling team traveled to Armuchee High School in Rome Saturday for the GHSA Class AA Traditional Area 3 Wrestling Finals which featured individual competitors representing 13 different high schools from around the state.
Six Brave wrestlers scored top four finishes to advance individually to next weekend’s GHSA State Sectional Meet which takes place at Rockmart High School.
These Braves will be looking to earn top four finishes again next week at Rockmart in order to earn spots on the grandest stage of all, the GHSA State Wrestling Championships at the Macon Centreplex February 9-11.
Four Brave grapplers led the way for Coach Kyle Yates Saturday afternoon with second place finishes including one senior and three underclassmen.
Senior wrestler Luis Vasquez scored his second place finish in the 220 lb. class by winning his first two matches before falling to a Chattooga High wrestler in the finals. Vasquez is now 30-16 on the season and will look for a strong finish at next week’s sectionals in hope of earning his spot in Macon.
Junior Kevin Hendrix brought home the second place medal after wrestling down in the 126 lb. weight class. Hendrix knocked off two competitors before dropping his finals match to Armuchee. This will be Hendrix’s first shot at sectionals.
One of the Braves’ most seasoned wrestlers, sophomore Gage Cannon knocked off his first two opponents before dropping his finals match to Armuchee in the 152 lb. weight class. Cannon will advance to sectionals for the second time after advancing as the fifth place alternate in 2016. Cannon will carry an outstanding 29-7 record into the meet.
The most surprising finisher of the day for Braves was freshman Wyn Denney in the tough 160 lb. weight class. Denney’s second place finish as a freshman is one of the strongest finishes ever by a freshman at HHS.
“No doubt that Wyn Denney has been our most improved wrestler this year,” said Coach Kyle Yates after the area meet. “He has wrestled over 50 matches this season which is just unheard of for a freshman.” Denney has a record of 30-22 in his 52 matches the season.
Earning a strong third place finish at the meet was sophomore Logan Moran. Moran has been another big surprise for the Braves this season with an overall record of 34-12.
Moran fell to a strong Rockmart grappler in the finals of the heavyweight class, but could earn his slot at Macon with a strong finish next week. Moran began the season in the 220 pound class but has since moved up to the tough heavyweight class.
Another sophomore, Sam Brown, rounded out the Brave advancers with a fourth place finish in the 182 lb. class. Brown also wrestled Rockmart in his final match of the day.
Kirby Caputa (106), Dylan Stephens (113), Matthew Nilsen (170), and David Urquilla (195) earned sixth place finishes at the meet. Seniors Austin Pannell and Cody Yates along with junior Eli Fairbanks rounded out Saturday’s competitors.
“We had four guys runner-up today and that’s huge for them because they will get to face a three seed from the other side next week which gives them each a good chance,” said Coach Yates. “I’m very proud of our guys — they fought their tails off today — I sometimes forget just how young they are as a whole. I told them all their goal next week is just to get in that top four again and go on to Macon where anything can happen.”
Sophomore Blake McAdams (145 lbs.) was scratched from the meet after being involved in an automobile accident and suffering a fractured spine earlier this week. He is expected to make a full recovery but will be sidelined from any athletics for at least 6-8 weeks.
“That’s just a tough situation for Blake,” says Coach Yates. “I went and talked to him after the accident and he was disappointed not to be here but we are thankful it wasn’t more serious and he will be able to recover and be back here with us next year.”
Teams competing at Saturday’s area meet included Armuchee, Rockmart, BEST academy, Chattooga, Coosa, Dade County, Gordon Central, Model, Pepperell, Temple, Therrell, and South Atlanta.
Opponents in next week’s sectionals will include the same Area 3 schools as well as Banks County, Butler, Elbert County, Glenn Hills, Harlem, Josey, Laney, Oglethorpe County, Putnam County, Rabun County, Social Circle, and Westside, Augusta from Area 4. Social Circle is one of the most storied and successful programs in the state.
State sectionals will take place next Saturday at Rockmart High School (9:00 AM) in Rockmart, GA. The first round of the Class AA State Meet takes place Friday morning, February 10 in Macon.