Young wrestlers end season strong

Published 1:35 pm Friday, January 21, 2011

Coach Chad Smith’s Bainbridge Middle School Bearcats wrestling team completed their season with a second-place finish in a strong field at the Lee County Middle School Invitational Jan. 15 in Leesburg.

In the field with the Bearcats and the host Lee County Middle School Trojans were the Thomas County Central Middle School Yellow Jackets, the Fitzgerald Middle School Purple Hurricanes and the Harris County High School Tigers.

The Bearcats wrestlers opened the competition against Harris County.

Email newsletter signup

“We got a pin in the first match with Harris County and never slowed down,” coach Smith said. “In our second match we defeated the Thomas County Central Middle School Yellow Jackets. We only lost two matches against Harris County and one match against Central.”

In the next match, the Bearcats posted a victory over a Fitzgerald Middle School Purple Hurricanes team that was much improved from last year.

The victory over Fitzgerald advanced the Bearcats to the championship match against the Lee County Middle School Trojans.

“We had lost close matches to Lee County twice earlier this season,” Smith said in evaluating the championship match. “Lee County handed us our first defeat of the tournament, but second place and a 4-1 record against a strong field of teams was pretty good. Every one of our wrestlers recorded a win at the tournament.”

Among those winning matches for the Bearcats were Grayson Graham, Ryan Bardwell, Nick Hancock, Hunter Odom, Greg Merritt, Collin Ward, Grayson Heard, Jose Garcia, Shawn Herring, Mason Birdsong, Brad Cox and Hayden Guy.

Also coming out on top for the Bearcats were Darrell Dukes, Blake Merchant, Dustin “Rusty” Strickland, Ashton Cato, Curt Marshall, Damian Rackley, Austin White, Glenn Cooper, Dalin Mack, Tshombe McKay and Terrence White.

“This season started with great expectations and ended with us surpassing every one of them,” Smith said. “This was the best year of wrestling I have had in my five years of coaching. I experienced a group of young men who I not only care about but love. They stood strong together and did every single thing asked of them without hesitation or question. These wrestlers are winners.”