wrestlers begin season with wins
By Greg Sullivan
Fresh off wins earlier in the week over Greene and Elbert in their season opener at Oconee County High School, the Morgan County wrestling team carried all their momentum into the Panther Invitational at Jackson County High School over the weekend finishing fifth out of a 24 team field. The Bulldog team had three weights open due to sicknesses and injuries but still managed to give a good performance. "I am certainly pleased to be in the top five of a pretty large tournament under the circumstances," said Bulldog head coach John Robbins. "With a healthy lineup we are in the top three of what is a pretty strong tourney." The tournament featured some of the tougher teams in the area. Defending AAA state champ Gilmer County competed and so did defending A state champ Jefferson. Other strong teams included Jackson County and Appalachee. Morgan finished just one point behind Appalachee.
The Dogs had four players place in the tournament on the way to their fifth place finish overall. Kody Vaughters had two wins by fall on his way to a first place finish in the 135 weight class. Vaughters is now 7-0 on the year. The other champion for the Dogs was Austin Sharp who now also stands at 7-0 overall in his weight class, 152. Nick Childers finished third in the 171 weight class falling in the semifinals but winning the consolation bracket. Childers is now 6-1 on the year.
Bulldog Jacob Akins finished fourth in the 103 class for the tourney and is now 6-2 overall. Several other Dogs picked up wins at the event. Dusty Mines is now 4-3 going 2-2 in the tournament. At 119, Mack McKenzie went 1-2 for the tourney and is now 3-3 overall. Tavis Simmons, at 125 lost in the semifinals of the tourney and is now 4-4 on the year. At 130, Kyle Palmer went 1-2 for the tourney and is 2-3 overall. Zach Yost was eliminated in the semifinals and is now 4-3 on the year.
Ryan Childers won twice by falls and went 2-2 for the tourney staying even at 3-3 on the year. The team different have entries for the 189, 215 and heavyweight classes. Robbins said he was proud of the way his wrestlers played and the way Vaughters and Sharp knocked off a pair of good Jackson County wrestlers.
"These guys continue to be leaders for us on and off the matt and are definitely starting their senior years off right with opening tournament championship titles. The team defeated Elbert and Greene counties last Tuesday, November 27 at Oconee. The team lost to Oconee 42-36 in a close decision, but beat Elbert 50-24 and Greene 66-12. The team did this despite missing some wrestlers who ineligible due to violation of team rules. Akins, Palmer, Vaughters, Yost and Sharpe picked up wins against Oconee despite the loss.
Akins, Mines, McKenzie, Howard Childers, Vaughters, Sharp and Nick Childers picked up wins against Elbert in a win. Winners against Greene included Akins, Mines, McKenzie, Simmons, Howard Childers, Vaughters, Ryan Childers, Yost, Sharp and Nick Childers. The team returns to action Wednesday, December 5 when they host their first home matches of the year with Cross Keys and Greene coming to town. The team will spend the weekend in Hillcrest, South Carolina when they participate at the Ram Invitational.