COCHRAN

Jefferson's Luke Cochran celebrates after winning the Class AAAA 170-pound title match on Feb. 13 as the Dragons took the Class AAAA team title convincingly in Macon. Jefferson's wrestling championship helped the Dragon athletic program finish third overall in Class AAAA for the 2020-21 school year.

One state championship and four runner-up finishes put the Jefferson High School athletic program near the top of all Class AAAA sports for the 2020-21 athletic season.

Jefferson finished with 1,208 points, placing third in the Georgia Athletic Directors’ Association standings behind Marist (1,453) and North Oconee (1,350).

"This has been a very challenging year for our athletes, coaches, teachers and administrators," Jefferson athletic director Bill Navas said. "We have all demonstrated the ability to thrive in adversity. We compete in a very competitive region.

"Honestly, I believe 8-AAAA is the most competitive region in our classification. I am very proud our our athletes, coaches and of our community for rallying around our programs. It’s a great day to be a Dragon."

When divided into genders, Jefferson’s boys finished third in Class AAAA with 613 points, while the girls were fourth in Class AAAA with 595 points.

Jefferson earned major points with state wrestling titles in both dual and traditional competition, though only one wrestling placement could be applied to the directors’ cup standings. It was also bolstered by second-place finishes in football, girls’ cross country, competitive cheerleading and girls’ track and field.

Others adding points were boys track and field (third place), boys’ soccer (Final Four), boys’ cross country (fourth place), boys’ golf (seventh place), baseball (Sweet 16), boys tennis (Sweet 16), boys’ basketball (Round of 32), volleyball (Final Four), girls’ basketball (quarterfinals), girls swimming (eighth), slow-pitch softball (sixth place), girls’ soccer (Sweet 16), fast-pitch softball (Sweet 16) and girls’ tennis (Sweet 16).

The school has enjoyed a recent run of success in the directors’ cup.

Jefferson ranked No. 1 in all of Class AAA athletics last year by a wide margin before all sports were canceled in the spring due to COVID-19.

Prior to that, Jefferson tallied 1,249 points in 2018-19, finishing second to Westminster in Class AAA.

Elsewhere in the county, Commerce won the directors’ cup for Class A-Public (see separate story), while East Jackson finished 28th in Class AAA, and Jackson County placed 48th in its first season in Class AAAAA.

East Jackson was led by a seventh-place showing in competitive cheerleading, an eight-place finish in boys’ cross country, Sweet 16 appearance by the boys’ soccer team and 11th-place finish in girls’ cross country. Jackson County was led by a fifth-place finish in the state wrestling duals.

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