Randy Hill knew he would have a successful wrestling team this season.
Lakeside's Kyle Hill (center) and Dennis Miller practice wrestling moves. The Panthers' coach says the team is balanced.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
He didn't know, however, that he would do so without grapplers in two weight classes.
"I think we can finish in the top 10 in the state this year," Hill said. "It would be easier if we had two guys to fill those slots."
Lakeside does not have a 112-pound wrestler or a heavyweight wrestler, but has strong athletes at the other 12 classes.
The Panthers have spent much of the season on the road, traveling to tournaments in Dublin, Fayetteville and Jonesboro so far this season, and will travel to Douglasville and Vidalia in the coming weeks.
"We know that we have to travel to tournaments," said Tim Mitchem, a senior who wrestles at 130 pounds. "We get a chance to see some of the state's best teams in these tournaments and they definitely make us better."
Mitchem was named a Preseason All-American and is one of six seniors who lead Lakeside. Mitchem, who is 27-1 on the season, is aiming for an individual state title after finishing third in 2004.
"I think he will be in the final match at the end of the season," Hill said. "He has a shot to win the title and he has that shot because he has worked so hard."
Mike Ingham is another senior who has experienced similar success to Mitchem. Ingham, a 145-pound wrestler, is 30-2 on the season and Hill thinks he can finish as one of the top wrestlers in the state.
"Ingham has worked hard and results are showing," he said. "He finished sixth last year and we expect him to finish solid again this season. He has 28 pins."
Joining Ingham and Mitchem as seniors are Donovan Lowe (215 pounds), Tyler Dart (189), Rhett Carter (152) and Garrett Testa (119).
"Our seniors are very important to the program," Kyle Hill said. "They definitely lead by example but aren't afraid to get on us if we are slacking."
Lakeside also has received solid efforts from Dennis Miller (103), Joseph Brejda (140), and Hill (160).
"We probably have one of the most balanced teams we've had here," Hill said. "I expect them the keep getting better and we can have success at state."
The Panthers finished second at the Tara Classic in Jonesboro Dec. 30, finishing behind Roswell, a Class AAAAA school.
The Panthers' success in Jonesboro hopefully will transfer, Mitchem said, to the Area Duals, which takes place on Saturday at Lakeside.
"It would be special to win the Duals at home," Mitchem said. "Especially after losing last year to Cross Creek."
Saturday's Area Duals will be followed by the State Duals, Jan. 21-22 in Macon. The Area Traditional tournament and State Traditional tournament will take place in February.
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