BY CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Newnan finished 5-0 at the 2019 Area 2-7A Duals and will advance along with East Coweta to the GHSA Class 7A State Duals in Macon.
High school wrestling isn’t about to abandon its traditional tournament, where an individual has every opportunity to compete for a state title.
It’s not always the case in the Georgia High School Association, where tennis players still don’t have that option each spring.
But the GHSA made a smart decision in 2002 to add the duals format to wrestling, one that puts its highest merit on overall team strength as well as the depth of a lineup.
And Newnan was ready to put some distance between itself and the rest of Area 2-7A in those categories on Friday at John Thrower Gym.
Putting a heavy focus on duals tournaments during its 2018-19 schedule, the Cougars wrapped up a 42-6 overall record by sweeping all five opponents, including rival East Coweta, en route to adding another area duals crown to last month’s county title.
Newnan left no doubt, even at the finish in a rematch against the host Indians, who tried a shuffling of the lineup in hopes of improving on a 45-30 decision at the county tournament prior to a fifth consecutive meeting to determine the area duals title.
The Cougars, however, were the ones that made up ground in a 52-25 victory. A 25-point headstart put Newnan on its way to nine individual wins, seven of which came by pin.
“We’re really starting to see a lot of consistency with our team,” head coach Sean Hage said. “We’re finally putting our No. 1 lineup out there and we have guys step up when we need it. At this part of the season, nobody hesitated or relaxed.”
Both teams now advance for the fifth straight season to the GHSA State Duals while representing Area 2 in the Class 7A double-elimination tournament starting Thursday, Jan. 17.
Four of the Cougars’ pins came from wrestlers that fell behind at points of their respective bouts, some by as many as six points.
“Right there we’re still looking for every opportunity. You can’t teach that.” Hage said. “There’s a consistency all the way through.”
East Coweta already knew its window of opportunity heading into Friday against Newnan was hampered by the loss of 120-pound county champion Jake Gabriel to an injury during practice this week.
Coaches Matt Ferrari and Chad Kollert shuffled its order a bit, especially among heavier weights. By the time the Indians reached that spot in the order after opening at 113 pounds, East Coweta trailed 33-6.
Early on, sophomore Marlon Wortham held on for a 9-7 victory for Newnan over 126-pound challenger Jordan Trask, adding to an immediate 12-0 edge on a forfeit to 113-pound county champion Tristan Kendzierski and a quick pin by first-year wrestler Allen Simms, the last of three on Friday while going undefeated at the 120 weight class.
Senior Kyler James’ comeback at 132, however, really set the momentum in Newnan’s favor for good after being outmuscled by Indians standout Zion Selby.
Selby, among first-year varsity starters with twin brother Zehhia, jumped ahead 4-1 to start the third period before James saw a brief opening and pulled backward, catching Zion off guard just long enough for a quick pin at the 4:12 mark of the match.
“He was a lot stronger than me,” James admitted afterward after missing a chance to wrestle Selby at the county championships. “I just had to work with what I knew.”
The victory over East Coweta also capped off a string of victories where the Cougars outscored opponents by a 376-28 margin and included shutouts against Campbell, Pebblebrook and Wheeler.
Only Westlake managed to score points against Newnan among opponents outside the county, with heavyweight Darius Meeks barely able to hold off Cougar junior Cody Harris 9-7, who suffered a stinger near the finish that kept him out of the team’s final two matches against Campbell and East Coweta.
Samuel Williams stepped in, going 1-1.
East Coweta senior Titus Aun moved up in weight to give the Indians six points while outlasting Williams to a late third-period pin, and lightweight Christian Gordon followed with a 5-2 decision against Newnan’s Connor Marsh to finish out the match.
By that time, however, Newnan had sewed up the area duals title with seniors Cale Goss (138) and Brandon Brown (152) scoring pins to help build a 33-6 advantage.
The Cougars closed the wins starting with pins by seniors Isaac Barrett (182) and Carson Knight (195) before Cougars junior Austin Garmany and Indians senior Alex Derico met at 220 in a rare matchup between two county weight-class champions.
Derico took an early 6-0 lead including points off a technical violation when Garmany locked his hands on a well-timed move. The Cougar standout recovered in time, though, to hand Derico a rare loss by pin early in the second period.
“We’re missing one, they’re missing one. You can’t start a match down 25. And Newnan’s got a heck of a team,” Ferrari said. “Right now we have a lot of young, first-time varsity wrestlers. We did our due diligence to get them ready for individual tournaments. That’s all we did all year long. They’ve got 40 so dual matches under them.”
Of East Coweta’s starters in Friday’s final match were three other varsity returners — Aun, Jaxon Garner and Dylan Spelious. All won respective matches.
Garner snapped Newnan’s shutout at 145 pounds, but needed to come from behind to avenge a prior loss to Cougar junior Max Broach from the county championships. Broach led 5-1 in the third with 47 seconds left in the match when the East Coweta sophomore made his move.
Spelios added a pin at 170 pounds to cut Newnan’s lead to 33-16 only to have it swell back by 12 after the Cougars got pins from Barrett in 1:18 and Knight at 4:47 in a see-saw match that had East Coweta’s Rayshaud Brown taking a slim 5-4 advantage into the final period.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done this far. I’m not proud of our performance tonight. We had flashes of brilliance and that’s what we’ve seen all year long.”
Newnan 51, East Coweta 25
(In order of matches)
113: Tristan Kendzierski (N) won forfeit; 120: Allen Simms (N) pin Connor Cameron (EC), 1:05; 126 Marlin Wortham (N) dec Jordan Trask (EC), 9-6; 132:Kyler James (N) pin Zion Selby (EC) 4:32; 138: Cale Goss (N) pin Samuel Farrell (EC), 3:45; Jaxon Garner (EC) pin Max Broach (N), 5:13; 152: Brandon Brown (N) pin Jake Madison (EC), 1:56; 160: Zekkhi Selby (EC) maj dec. Sammy Caputo (N) 11-3; 170: Dylan Spelios (EC) pin Payton Toth (N), 1:02; 182: Isaac Barrett (N) pin Walter Lloyd (EC), 1:18; 195: Carson Knight (N) pin Rayshaud Brown (EC), 4:57; 220: Austin Garmany (N) pin Alex Derico (EC), 2:34; 285: Titus Aun (EC) pin Samuel Williams (N), 5:21; 106: Christian Gordon (EC) dec. Connor Marsh (N), 5-2.
Newnan 81, Campbell 0
106: Connor Marsh (N) pin Leslie Perez (CAM), 3rd; 126: Allen Simms (N) pin T’jeem Evans (CAM), 2nd; 138: Cale Goss (N) pin Andrew Edwar (CAM), 2nd; 145: Max Broach (N) pin Jaron Ford (CAM), 1st; 152: Brandon Brown (N) pin Thomas Whatley (CAM), 1st; 160: Sammy Caputo (N) pin William (CAM), 1st; 170: Payton Toth (N) won disq Jeffrey (CAM); 182: Isaac Barrett (N) pin Skylon McFarland (CAM), 2nd; 195: Carson Knight (N) pin Kobe Marshall (CAM), 1st; 220: Austin Garmany (N) pin Durrell McCreary (CAM), 1st; Samuel Williams (N) pin Christian Holloway (CAM), 2nd.
Forfeits - Campbell 113,120,132
East Coweta 69, Wheeler 6
106: Christian Gordon (EC) pin Dane Hardeman (WH), 2:44; 113: Connor Cameron (EC) pin Hakeem Lingo (WH), 4:44; 126: Brennon Linenger (EC) dec. Gabriel Chung (WH), 8-5; 138: Camden Key (EC) pin Sam Taulli (WH), 4:21; 160: Tristan Young (EC) pin Mark Twyman (WH), 3:15; 170: Dylan Spelios (EC) pin Larry Smith (WH), 0:12; 182: Walter Lloyd (EC) pin Russell Brown (WH), 2:26; 195: Rayshaud Brown (EC) pin Jabari Henderson (WH), 0:37; 220: Titus Aun (EC) pin Austin Schueurerman (WH), 1:09.
Forfeits - EC 120; Wheeler 145, 152, 285; No contest; 132
East Coweta 71, Campbell 6
285: Kyle Marshall (EC) pin Christian Holloway (CAM), 2:10; 106: Christian Gordon (EC) tech fall Leslie Perez (CAM), 16-0; 113: Connor Cameron (EC) pin Itohan Aigbelaen (CAM), 2:22; 126: Jordan Trask (EC) pin T’jeem Evans (CAM), 2:32; 138: Zion Selby (EC) dec. Andrew Edwar (CAM), 6-5; 145: Jaxon Garner (EC) pin Jaron Ford (CAM), 2:11; 152: Jake Madison (EC) dec. Thomas Whatley (CAM), 4-0; Zekkhi Selby (EC) pin Alvaro Alvarez (CAM), 0:43; 182: Rayshaud Brown (EC) pin Skylon McFarland (CAM), 0:23; 195: Alex Derico (EC) pin Kobe Marshall (CAM), 0:26; 220: Titus Aun (EC) pin Durrell McCreary (CAM), 3:09.
Forfeits - East Coweta 126; Wheeler 132
Newnan 73, Westlake 3
285: Darius Meeks (WL) dec. Cody Harris (N), 9-7; 113: Tristan Kendzierski (N) pin Xavier Wilder (WL), 1st; 138: Cale Goss (N) pin Johnjay Dunn (WL), 1st; 195: Carson Knight (N) maj. dec. Jaylnn Robinson 13-3; 220: Austin Garmany (N) pin Tyrese Street (WL), 1st;
Forfeits - Westlake (106, 120, 126, 132, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182)
East Coweta 66, Pebblebrook 18
220: Kyle Marshall (EC) pin Lance Knox (P), 2:13; 285: Kendrick Blackmon (P) pin Jerel Searcy (EC), 1:50; 113: Luis Iturbicle (P) def. Elijah Theriault (EC), inj; 138: Michael Briscoe (P) pin Samuel Farrell (EC). 0:23; 170: Aaron Hill (EC) pin Khalil Whitaker (P), 1:04; 195: Walter Lloyd (EC) pin David Coleman (P), 1:01.
Forfeits — Pebblebrook (106, 120, 126, 132, 145, 152, 160, 182)
Newnan 84, Wheeler 0
220: Austin Garmany (N) pin Austin Schueurerman (WH), 1st; 285: Cody Harris (N) pin Eric Swain, 1st; 106: Connor Marsh pin Dane Hardeman (WH), 1st; 113: Tristan Kendzierski (N) pin Blake Gee (WH), 1st; 120: Marlin Wortham (N) pin Paxton Chai, 1st; 126: Allen Simms (N) pin Gabriel Chung (WH), 1st; 138: Cale Goss (N) pin Sam Taulli (WH), 1st; 160: Sammy Caputo (N) pin Mark Twyman (WH), 1st; 170: Payton Toth (N) pin Larry Smith (WH), 1st; 182: Isaac Barrett (N) pin Russell Brown (WH), 3rd; 195: Carson Knight (N) pin Jabari Henderson (WH), 1st
Forfeits — Wheeler (132, 145, 152)
East Coweta 78, Westlake 6
195: Alex Derico (EC) pin Jaylin Robinson (WL), 5:51; 220: Titus Aun (EC) pin Tyrese Street (WL), 3:30; 285: Darius Meeks (WL) pin Jerel Searcy (EC), 1:58; 113: Christian Gordon (EC) pin Xavier Wilder (WL), 1:36; 138: Ramal Holston (EC) pin Johnjay Dunn (WL), 2:14.
Forfeits — Westlake (106, 120, 126, 145, 152, 160, 170, 182)
Note: Results from Newnan's victory over Pebblebrook were unavailable.