LAST WEEKEND, the Jackson County Comprehensive High School wrestling team hosted its annual Panther Invitational.
Twenty-five schools ranging in classification from A to AAAAAA competed in the two-day event tournament.
Social Circle took first place in the tournament with a score of 223 points. Commerce (215) finished second, while Jefferson (159) took third.
Panther head coach Jason Powers noted that the invitational is “one of the toughest tournaments (the Panthers) will wrestle in all year.”
Jackson County finished the tournament with three top-five finishers. Connor Crump finished fourth in the 106 lb. weight class. Lane Robertson (195 lb.) and Evan Breakspear (220 lb.) both earned fifth place finishes in their respective weight classes.
“The three wrestlers that placed had to battle to get there and they have the bruises and scrapes to prove it,” said Powers. “It was a war in every match and there were no easy matches in the tournament. Every match required the wrestler to be at his very best every second and that is a great lesson to learn early in the season. Unfortunately, many of our wrestlers had to learn that lesson the hard way. We did not wrestle our best this weekend. We were not sharp in every position and took some mental breaks that cost us matches. We will learn from these matches and move on.”
Powers said he expects his team to continue working focusing on getting better down the stretch.
“I know we are much better than what we showed this weekend,” Powers added. “The good thing is that we are still very early in the season and have a lot of opportunities to get better throughout the year. We all still need to fine tune some things and figure out how to be on the other side of the one-point matches.”
Tuesday, the Panthers hosted West Hall and Gainesville for a duals meet, but details were unavailable at press time.
This weekend, the Jackson County wrestlers will travel to Lumpkin County to compete in the John Smith Mountaineer Invitational.
Although the Eagles did not have any wrestlers place in last weekend’s Panther Invitational, East Jackson head coach Michael Pruitt said he was pleased to see members of his squad show signs of improvement.
Due to several injuries, the Eagles were only able to bring nine wrestlers to the tournament.
“The Panther is always a tough tournament, but it was a beast this year,” said Pruitt. “We had five (wrestlers) make it to the second day, which may not seem like much. But for our young wrestlers to perform well at a tournament that tough was definitely a positive we took away from the weekend. Our goal is to just get better every time we step into the wrestling room and every time we go wrestle anywhere.”
The Eagles traveled to North Oconee on Tuesday to compete in an area duals match, but details were unavailable at press time.
This weekend, East Jackson will head to Apalachee for a round-robin tournament in which each wrestler will compete in eight individual matches.
“It’s a great opportunity for mat time and experience,” added Pruitt.
The Jefferson High School wrestling team took home four individual titles last weekend at the Panther Invitational.
Kyle Kashuba (113 lb.), Ben Kelly (120 lb.), Chase Piperato (126 lb.) and Caleb Little (160 lb.) all finished first in their respective weight classes. Jack Dollar (145 lb.) also earned a third place finish for the Dragons.
Jefferson finished third overall in the tournament with a points total of 159.
Dragon head coach Doug Thurmond said he was proud of the effort of his wrestlers. He also noted that his lineup is slowly returning to full health.
“We hope to have about half of the guys we are missing back this weekend,” said Thurmond. “It’s still going to be another couple of weeks before we have our full lineup, but at this point, we are just trying to get better each week.”
The Dragons travel to Berkmar today (Wednesday) for a duals match, then travel to Berea High School in Greenville, S.C. on Saturday for the FCA Southern Duals tournament.