Jeff Hurndon Photography
Union Grove coach Kevin McGonigle has high hopes for the Wolverines who advanced to the state tournament, especially Hunter Gamble and Griffin Higginbotham. “I would say that Griffin’s chances of repeating are better than 75 percent,” he said. “And Hunter’s just amazing.”
Ten Southern Crescent wrestlers won their weight classes at sectionals this past weekend, and put themselves in favorable positions for this upcoming weekend’s state championships at Gwinnett Arena.
No individual is in better position than Dalvin Tomlinson of Henry County, who is going for his third consecutive state championship. Tomlinson dominated the heavyweight class in the Class AAA East Sectional at West Laurens.
But among the Southern Crescent schools, no team may be in better position than Locust Grove, which will send 10 wrestlers to the state tournament in Class AAA.
The top eight wrestlers in each weight class at each sectional qualified for state. Locust Grove sports three weight-class champions (Peter Baus at 126, Chaz Brown at 152 and Tyler Rapes at 195) and two runners-up (Jarred Benefield at 138 and Brandon Benson at 145).
“We went down there hungry,” Locust Grove coach Nick Fordham said. “It definitely elevated our potential. We’re talking about a state championship whereas a week ago we were talking about finishing in the top five. Who knows what could happen if we wrestle the way we did last weekend?”
Eagle’s Landing (led by Shawanya Lawrence, runner-up to Tomlinson) and Ola (led by 182-pound champ Jimmy Carman) will send six wrestlers to state, with Eagle’s Landing competing in Class AAA and Ola in Class AAAA.
Lovejoy, led by 145-pound runner-up Derek Holmes, will send five wrestlers to state.
Union Grove is sending four wrestlers, including 160-pound sectional champ Hunter Gamble and 120-pound sectional champ Griffin Higginbotham, who won state last year at 103.
“I would say that Griffin’s chances of repeating are better than 75 percent,” Union Grove coach Kevin McGonigle said. “And Hunter’s just amazing. He doesn’t care who he wrestles, doesn’t care to know who it will be just before his match. He just goes out and gets the job done. He makes some really good kids look not so good. I would say Hunter’s the hands-down favorite to win that class. Nobody’s done more work since 365 days ago, when he decided he wasn’t going to be a runner-up again.”
Stockbridge sends three to state, including two sectional class champions (Shakeno Jenkins at 145 and Thomas Daniels at 170). Also sending three are Woodland (led by third-place Eli Carson at 138) and Henry County, where Terrance Waugh (runner-up at 220) and Sean Newkirk (fourth at 132) will join Tomlinson.
Jonesboro also is sending three to state, including 126-pound sectional champion Scott Coleman and heavyweight runner-up Telly Sloan. Forest Park will send a pair — Leon Butts who finished fourth at 182 and Tyrik Ball, who was sixth at 160.
Drew will send sixth-place finishers Dashawn Mackey (120) and Jason Peters (195) to state AAA. Morrow will send Quinton Lewis, a fourth seed at 145 in AAAA.
Sectional weight class champions
Griffin Higginbotham, Union Grove
Scott Coleman, Jonesboro (West AAAA), Peter Baus, Locust Grove (East AAA)
Shakeno Jenkins, Stockbridge (East AAA)
Chaz Brown, Locust Grove
Hunter Gamble, Union Grove (East AAAA)
Thomas Daniels, Stockbridge (East AAA)
Jimmy Carman, Ola (East AAAA)
Tyler Rapes, Locust Grove (East AAA)
Dalvin Tomlinson, Henry County (East AAA)