The Commerce Tigers earned a third-place finish last weekend at the GHSA class-A state wrestling duals in Macon.
Commerce advanced to the semifinals after handily beating Eagles Landing Christian 52-17 in its first bout of the tournament.
The Tigers then faced off against Gordon Lee, which eventually went on to win the state championship. Commerce fell to the eventual state champs 42-27.
“To me, it was very impressive,” said Tiger head coach Kendall Love. “They beat us by 15 and we gave them 12, so we went toe-to-toe with them. We gave it our best shot but just fell short.”
The Tigers were forced to give up 12 points against each opponent due to forfeits, but still found a way to climb to the top of the consolation bracket.
Commerce defeated Turner County 57-21, then defeated Mt. Zion 55-21 in the consolation finals, securing a third-place finish in the tournament.
“I was so proud of the guys to get third in state, especially giving up 12 points off the bat,” said Love. “In a dual format, it’s not always about who wins and loses. Each guy has their role and they all worked really hard to go out there and do what needed to be done – whether it was to not get pinned or to give us a pin.”
Several Tiger wrestlers went undefeated in the tournament including Tyreke Wiggins, Grayson Cochran, Trent Reddish, Morgan Flint and Chance McClure.
The Commerce wrestling squad will now turn its attention to individual competition. While individuals are rewarded in traditional tournaments, a team aspect is still very prevalent. In this format, an individual progresses through a bracket while earning his team points.
Love hopes that the traditional format won’t punish his team as much when it comes to missing weight classes.
“I’m looking forward to individuals,” he said. “The handicap we have won’t hurt us as bad in traditionals. I’m hoping that things will be better for us going through sectionals, area and state. Maybe the playing field will be leveled for us.”
The Tigers will travel to Habersham Central High School this weekend to compete in the annual Sham Slam tournament.
“The Habersham tournament is one of the toughest in the state,” added Love. “Out of the six classes, five state champ teams are in this tournament. It’s well represented.”
The tournament kicks off on Friday, Jan. 18 at 5 p.m., and commences on Saturday at 9 a.m.