Ignited by first-place individual finishes from Jorge Malave (106 pound), Robert Maldonado (152 pound) and R.J. Mitchell (160 pound), Grovetown High School captured the Area 2-AAAAA traditional title last weekend, beating runner-up Jones County 164-157.
In all, the Warriors advanced 11 wrestlers to sectionals, which will be held Feb. 7-8 at Cambridge High School in Milton.
“Before workouts began, our coaching staff set four goals at the beginning of September,” Grovetown head coach Jeremy Davis said. “First, we wanted to win 50 percent of our dual matches. Second, we wanted to advance seven to sectionals. Third, we wanted to advance three to state. And finally, we wanted to be Region champions. I can’t even describe how much it means to turn that final goal into a reality.”
All wrestlers that finished fourth or higher advance to Class AAAAA East sectionals this weekend, where the top eight grapplers qualify for state the following weekend at the Gwinnett Arena.
Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside also had strong performances, qualifying eight, seven and three individuals, respectively.
For Grovetown, Charles Lindemuth (285 pound) was their lone runner-up, while Michel Santos, Daegan Lente, Asa DeBuck, Wayford McDermott, Ryan Wheeler, Xavier Merrill and Jaylen Malone were all sectional qualifiers.
It is Grovetown’s first Region 2-AAAAA Traditional title.
“Going into the final round, I knew we were ahead by a point, but I didn’t tell any of my players,” Davis said. “The last thing I wanted to do was add more pressure.”
Behind Grovetown and Jones County, rounding out the eight teams were Warner Robins (142 points), Greenbrier (123.5), Evans (117), Houston County (71), Lakeside (66) and Northside Warner Robins (46).
Greenbrier had two individual champions, Caleb DiPrete (132 pound) and Alex Torres (145 pound), while Nate Wilkie, Sam Torres, Daniel Fenske, Jacob Welsh and Kolby Schaible all advanced to sectionals.
For Evans, Monte Britton won the 170 pound division, while Michael Washington, Jay Allen, Matt Gruba, Hunter Young, Jarvis Steele, Felipe Alatorre and Gavin Pence each finished in the top four.
The three Lakeside wrestlers who qualified for sectionals were Joseph Shaffer (185 pound champion), Joshua Castro and Everrick Wright.