Let the wrestling begin.
Not just the competition on the mat. That type of wrestling began last month. I'm talking about wrestling with the question that has Columbia County's grappling world locked in a half-nelson:
Which is the best wrestling team this year?
No doubt, the top area team comes from Columbia County. No other program comes close to those in this county.
Lakeside has been the dominant player in wrestling for years. Greenbrier's program finally has a steady foundation, thanks to a concentrated effort at the middle school level. Even at Evans, where wrestling was that "other" indoors team for years, with maybe half a dozen students on the roster, there is a program to be proud of.
In fact, Evans earned third place last weekend in the Tiger Claw Tournament at Douglas County, with junior Trey Golston leading the way. Golston, a super heavyweight, pinned every opponent he faced and finished the day with a 5-0 record.
Lakeside was also in action last weekend at the West Laurens Raider Invitationals in Dublin, Ga., where two Panthers wrestlers claimed first-place finishes.
Junior Kyle Tau (189 pounds) remained undefeated on the year with an 11-0 record by pinning seven opponents. Sophomore Jacob Smith took the top prize in the 285-pound division with a strong come-from-behind performance. Smith finished the round-robin portion of the tournament in a tie for fourth place and had to square off in a play-in match just to qualify for tournament play. He easily won the "first takedown" match to enter the tournament, then won his first-round match by one point in double overtime. He pinned his next opponent to take first place and improve his overall record to 5-2. For the tournament, Smith was named Outstanding Heavyweight Wrestler.
The Greenbrier Wolfpack competed in a tournament at Hardaway last weekend. Look for senior Louie Shearer to lead the way for a team that has improved each of the past three years.
So the question remains ... who is the best? For now, no one knows. Unlike years past, the teams haven't come together for one tournament to play each other. That bragging rights match won't happen until mid-January in the Region 3-AAAA Duals (probably at Glynn Academy). Local fans won't get a good look at all three schools together until Lakeside plays host to the Region 3-AAAA Traditionals in February.
Until then, let the wrestling continue. No matter which team emerges as the top Columbia County squad, Lakeside coach Randy Hill put it best:
"It's not my goal just to beat Greenbrier and Evans. If our goal was just to beat Greenbrier, we'd be selling ourselves short," he said. "I want Greenbrier and Evans to go deep in the state tournament, too. It's good for the sport in our area."
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