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Henry County, Locust Grove in prime position for title run

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

If a team's chance of winning the GHSA Traditional Wrestling Tournament at the Gwinnett Arena this week boils down to a numbers game, than Henry County and Locust Grove are in good shape.

The Warhawks and Wildcats qualified the most wrestlers from any Southern Crescent team this weekend at the Class AAA West Sectionals. Henry County qualified 11, while Locust Grove qualified 10.

The traditional state tournament begins Thursday and concludes Saturday.

"It's an honor to qualify for the state tournament, especially now with sectionals. Both are very respectable numbers," Locust Grove coach Nick Fordham said. "We're both going to try to win as many matches as we can and score as many bonus points as we can."

Those are the kind of numbers the Warhawks and Wildcats needed to remain in contention this week for a top finish in Class AAA. While it will be tough to de-throne defending state champ Gilmer, Fordham said stranger things have happened.

"Whoever wants it more is going to win," Fordham said. "Anybody can be beaten on any day. We've got a shot just like anybody else.

Fordham said he expects Zack Brown (140) and Bryan Sorrows (152) to contend for individual state titles. Henry County has undefeated sophomore heavyweight Dalvin Tomlinson, the state champ in Class AA last season, and Brett Yarbourgh (119) as favorites in their respective weight class.

Several other wrestlers from around the Southern Crescent go into the traditional state tournament capable of winning an individual state title.

Union Grove's triumvirate of Griffin Higginbotham (103), Alex Lazor (130) and Hunter Gamble (160) all breezed through the Class AAAA East Sectionals. So did Ola's Peyton Durflinger (112) and Billy Abrahamsen (119), and Woodland's Justin Kerce (125) and Omar Waller (189). Lovejoy senior Giovante Ortiz (140) kept his undefeated season intact and cruised through the Class AAAA West Sectionals.