By EDDY GIFFORD
The Dade County Wrestling team traveled to East Laurens High School in Dublin this past Saturday to compete in the first two rounds of the state tournament.
The Wolverines’ first round opponent was Crawford County. The dual opened up with the 138-pound weight class where Rylan Whitehurst came up short in a 7-0 match, and Crawford County took a 3-0 lead. Brandon Willerson tied the dual score 3-3 with an 8-3 at 144 pounds.
Crawford took the lead back with a win by fall over Zane Murdock at 150 pounds, but Gavin Childress tied the dual up at 9-9 with a pin of his own at 157 pounds. The back and forth continued when Crawford County won by fall over Mason Gann at 165 pounds and took the lead at 15-9.
It was at this point that Dade went on a run and never looked back. Levi Raines won by fall at 175 pounds, Landon Williams won by fall at 190 pounds, Jordan Casstellanos won by fall at 215 pounds, Gabriel Yarbrough won by fall at 285 pounds, Zane Cuzzort won by fall at 106 pounds, Eli Mason won by fall at 113 pounds, Colton Chase won by fall at 120 pounds, Anderson Windsor won by fall at 126 pounds, and Gideon Moore won by fall at 132 pounds. When the dust finally settled, the Wolverines had advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with a 65-15 win.
Dade faced a senior heavy East Laurens squad in the second round with a trip to the Elite 8 on the line. The dual began similar to the first-round dual, as Brandon Willerson wrestled a tough match at 144, but lost 7-0, and East Laurens took a 3-0 lead. East Laurens earned wins by fall at 150 pounds and 157 pounds over Zane Murdock and Gavin Childress giving the Falcons a 15-0 lead.
Heidi Raines put Dade County on the board with a win by fall at 165 pounds, and the lead was cut to 15-6. Levi Raines lost by fall at 175 pounds and East Laurens was up by 15 again, 21-6.
Landon Williams dominated his opponent at 190 pounds, winning by fall and cutting the lead to 21-12. Jordan Casstellanos lost by fall at 215 pounds, and Gabriel Yarbrough won in a three over time battle at 285 pounds. East Laurens was out front 27-15 as the dual made the turn to the lighter weights. Eli Mason and Zane Cuzzort both lost by fall at 106 and 113, and the lead had grown to 39-15 East Laurens.
It was at this point the Wolverines went on a run of their own when Colton Chase won by fall in the second period at 120 pounds, Anderson Windsor won by fall in the first period at 126 pounds, and Gideon Moore shocked the Falcons by pinning returning state placer Tex Edge at 132 pounds. The score was suddenly 39-33, and the dual was then decided in the final match at 138 pounds. Rylan Whitehurst battled to the bitter end, but he came up short 5-0, and East Laurens held on for a 42-33 win over the Wolverines.
Coach Jeff Poston said, “I am extremely proud of how much this team has grown. We started five freshmen today! We took a team full of seniors down to the last match. These kids proved today that they belong on the mat, and they took pride in fighting their tails off for their school and the program.”
The Wolverines will now begin preparing for the Traditional Area Tournament, and the individual portion of the season. The girls will wrestle for individual Area Championships on Jan. 27 as Maleah Wilson, Heidi Raines, Jerzee Crabtree, and Georgia Marter will begin their quest for a girls GHSA state championship.
The boys will wrestle on Jan. 28 for an opportunity to win individual Area Championships. Sectionals will be the week of Feb. 4, and the Traditional State Championships will take place Feb. 15-18 in Macon.