By R. Alan Richardson sports editor
Morgan’s Mat Dogs had a successful week participating in the Takedown Sportswear Invitational at Archer High School and the Alexander Invitational in Douglasville. Morgan finished seventh at Archer in what Head Coach John Robbins described as the best field the team will face this season. Here’s what he said, “This tournament was by far the toughest event we will have all season including our State Championships. Five defending state championship teams and two runner-ups were in attendance, including 28 individual returning state champions, 42 additional returning state placers, and 11 High School All-Americans. We were able to place seventh as a team out of 35, which is the best we’ve ever done at Archer. Unfortunately we were without starters for various reasons, which really hurt. We were able to stay in the top 10 because every kid scratched and clawed for at least one win. To have as many as we did win three or more matches bodes well for our state championships in February.
We were able to get three to place in the top six compared to last year’s one medalist (Nathan Lundy). Placing here is a pretty good indicator that you will be on one of the top stops of the podium in the Gwinnett Arena in February. Jody McAlister lost in the first round in overtime to a stud from Father Ryan (TN), but came all the way back through the consolations to avenge that defeat before falling 4-0 to a defending state champion and Gardner-Webb signee from Social Circle. Jody finished with a strong win for fifth over South Forsyth. Antonio Robinson was our lone semifinalist after winning his first three bouts before losing to the number three ranked wrestler in the nation from Archer who is a North Carolina State signee. He finished well, defeating Cass for fifth. D’monta Wright also lost his first round match before stringing together five wins to place fifth. Ladarrius Andrews was one match away from placing, making it all the way to the consolation quarterfinals before being eliminated. Here’s the final tally from Archer. 120 Kevin Berisko 3-2 (Did Not Place) 126 Donovan McElligott 3-2 (DNP) 132 Sean McElligott 3-2 (DNP) 138 Garner Drummond 1-2 (DNP) 145 Jody McAlister 6-2 (5th Place) 152 Luke Mitchell 1-2 (DNP) 160 Antonio Robinson 4-2 (5th Place) 170 D’monta Wright 5-2 (5th Place) 195 Ladarrius Andrews 3-2 (DNP) 220 Thomas Bailey 2-2 (DNP) HWT Matthew Callaway 1-2 DNP COMMENTS: 1/2 Alexander Inv hosted by Alexander HS in Douglasville 106 Mason Adams (6th place) 120 Kevin Berisko (4th place) 126 Donovan McElligott (injury defaulted in champioship semi’s) 132 Sean McElligott (2-1, withdrew) 138 Garner Drummond (4-2, 5th place) 145 Jody McAlister (3-0, tournament champion) 152 Luke Mitchell (3-0, tournament champion) 160 Antonio Robinson (3-0, tournament champion) 170 D’monta Wright (3-0, tournament champion) 195 Ladarrius Andrews (2-1, tournament runner-up) 220 Thomas Bailey (2-2, DNP) HWT Matthew Callaway (4-2, 4th place) The Dogs then participated in the Alexander Individuals and made a superior showing. Robbins again weighed in on the results. “We had a huge scare at the start of the semifinals as Donovan McElligott suffered a neck injury. Luckily x-rays were negative, but we still aren’t sure how long he will be out of the line-up. The most important thing is that he is safe and it wasn’t anything serious. For the 2nd time this year the guys were able to win an invitational, finishing ahead of 6A Hillgrove (2nd), 5A Alexander (3rd), 6A Starr’s Mill (4th), and Mountain Brook of AL (5th). The team wrestled great, again considering we are still not able to put our best guys on the mat and at their best weights.
Our “Murderer’s Row” of McAlister, Mitchell, Robinson, & Wright really solidified the team championship, as they all had dominating performances in the finals. Adams, Berisko, Drummond, Andrews, and Callaway also wrestled well all placing in the top six.” JV results for the Alexander Match follow from January 2nd. 106 Tyler Snowden / 8th grader (3-1, 3rd pace) 113 Clayton Howell / 8th grader (3-0, tournament champion) 113 Matthew Bailey / 8th grader (2-1, tournament runner-up) 132 Cole Howell / 9th grader (3-1, tournament runner-up) 138 Caleb Knight / 10th grader (2-2, DNP) 152 Zach Smith / 10th grader (4-1, 3rd place) 170 Peyton Walker / 10th grader (1-2 / DNP) 182 Curry Wadsworth / 10th grader (1-2, DNP) NEXT UP FOR THE MAT DOGS: The 8-AAA Area Duals will be hosted by Oconee County High School this year, and it will be a big one. Jefferson (17 consecutive state titles) is the clear favorite, which leaves one spot between Morgan, Jackson, and Oconee, all three of which could easily place anywhere from 2nd-4th in Macon at the State Duals in two weeks. 8-AAA has been the toughest region in Morgan’s classification for a while, and you can bet that whichever two teams make it out will shine in Macon the next weekend.