Last weekend, the Commerce Middle School Mat Tigers received the highest wrestling honors in the state.
After an unblemished 17-0 record, the Tigers continued their perfect season by winning the Middle School State Championship.
The Tigers’ perfect season marks the first ever team sports state championship in Commerce Middle School history.
Saturday Jan. 19, the Tigers battled their way through a bracket of 31 middle school and USA Club teams at Lambet High School in Suwanee. Commerce won five duals and had posted an unprecedented total of 44 pins in 65 individual matches.
The number-one seeded Tigers knocked off Mount Vernon, Gordon Lee, Clear Creek and Cass to advance to the state final against South Paulding.
The Tigers easily rolled over South Paulding with a dominating score of 64-15, sealing a Tiger state championship.
Commerce head coach Forrest Garner expressed a great deal of pride in the success of his team.
Garner, who has been the head middle school coach for two years and an assistant varsity coach for five years, attributed his program’s growth to the hard work of his team, and the increasing support of parents and the Commerce community.
“Last year we had a good year with placing third at state,” said Garner. “Our program has just grown – almost doubled in size over the past year. “The kids are working harder, I’m pushing them harder and I’m just trying to get them on the level that I know they can be on.”
The Commerce Middle School team has several individuals consistently wrestling in national tournaments all over the country – most recently in Ohio and Virginia.
Garner says he is confident in the work ethic of his students and believes that over time, they will only get better.
“They were probably the most well conditioned and hardest working middle school team in the state,” he said. “I push them harder than a lot of varsity teams get pushed. That is one key for our success.”
While the Commerce Middle School wrestling team has already made history with a state title, Garner doesn’t expect its achievements to stop there.
“The team that I have right now will be winning state championships at the high school level – without a doubt,” said Garner.