Lumpkin wrestlers advance to State Tournament

  • LEFT: Austin Garmany advanced to the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship this past weekend. RIGHT: Charlotte Cunningham joined her teammate Olivia Gilleland in advancing to the State Championship after both wrestled well at Sectionals this past weekend.
    LEFT: Austin Garmany advanced to the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship this past weekend. RIGHT: Charlotte Cunningham joined her teammate Olivia Gilleland in advancing to the State Championship after both wrestled well at Sectionals this past weekend.

The LCHS varsity wrestling team watched six of seven participating Indian wrestlers and two of four Lady Indians grapple their way to the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship when the team took part in the Sectional tournament hosted by South Forsyth High School on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8.
The Indians sent seven wrestlers and the Lady Indians sent four wrestlers to Sectionals with hopes of a State Championship title dancing in their heads. By the end of the two-day tournament, Lumpkin had six Indian wrestlers and two Lady Indian wrestlers qualify for the State Championship, giving them all an opportunity to battle for a coveted State Championship title.
The Indians saw two of its wrestlers grapple their way to Sectional Championship titles, three wrestler their way to runner-up honors and one more place in the top four during the final step before State.
Two-time defending State Champion Nolan Wheeler (160 pounds) and defending State Champion Sam Irwin (182) both saw themselves crowned Sectional Champion during the two-day event, giving both of them another opportunity at a State title.
Wheeler came into the Sectional tournament with the number one seed and a first round bye. The senior then proceeded to go 3-0 with pins against Haralson County’s Stephen Hardeman and Islands’ Cooper Bachman in the quarterfinal and semifinals and a 9-3 win by decision versus Jake Farthing of Benedictine in the championship match to earn himself first place and a spot at State.
Wheeler showed off his strength and skill on the mat during the two-day competition and appeared prime to grapple his way to his third straight State Championship title when he takes part in the upcoming GHSA Wrestling Traditional State Championship in Macon.
Looking just as dominant at Sectional for Lumpkin was Irwin. The defending State Champion also came into the Sectional event with a first round bye. And, just like Wheeler had done in his weight division, Irwin handed out a large dose of mayhem on the mats to his opponents on his way to a 3-0 record and a Sectional Championship title.
Irwin picked up a win by pin in the quarterfinal over Ringgold’s Kaiser Cross and another win by pin in the semifinals against Calhoun’s Jason Vicente before earning a win by forfeit over North Hall’s Logan Hawthorne in the championship match.
The Sectional Championship title marked Irwin’s second in as many seasons and is a sign that Irwin is ready to defend his State Championship title in Macon.
Along with Wheeler and Irwin both winning championship crowns, the Indians also saw three of their wrestlers wrestle their way to second pace finishes at Sectional. Levi Seabolt (170), Ethan Kline (195) and Austin Garmany (Heavyweight) each grappled their way to runner-up honors at the event.
Seabolt displayed resiliency, skill and strength on his path through the Sectional tournament. The senior made sure that he qualified for State on the first day of the event with wins in his first round match and the quarterfinal match.
Seabolt made short work of Beach’s Mikell Hunter in first round action with a win by pin in 38 seconds. Seabolt continued to shine when he earned a 16-7 major decision win over Haydin Harris of Calhoun in the quarterfinals, securing himself a top four finish and a spot at State.
On the second day, Seabolt kept the momentum going with a win by pin over Lovett’s John Thomas Brooks in the semifinals to advance to the championship match.
However, Seabolt’s terrific run fell short of a Sectional Championship title when he lost a tight 5-3 decision to North Hall’s Hunter Adams in the finals.
Kline also stood out for Lumpkin at Sectional with runner-up honors at the event. The senior wrestler had to grind his way to the championship match during the two-day Sectional.
After a first round bye, Kline battled to a 5-1 win by decision over Haralson County’s Clay Hyatt in the quarterfinal match. Kline followed up his quarterfinal performance with a thrilling back-and-forth match versus James Jolly of Adairsville in the semifinals. Kline had to dig deep to hold on to a close 6-5 win by decision in order to advance to the championship match.
In the finals, Kline fell to Sonoraville’s Charlie Brown. Brown was able to pin Kline in the first period, forcing Kline to have to settle for second place at the event.
The third runner-up at Sectional for Lumpkin was Garmany. The recent senior transfer scrapped his way to a second place finish in the heavyweight division despite being outsized by many of his opponents.
After a first round bye, Garmany destroyed Dontre Mike of Johnson Savannah with a win by pin in 53 seconds in the quarterfinals. Garmany followed his quarterfinal win with a hard fought 9-7 win by decision against Coahulla Creek’s Jerry Harper in the semifinals.
In the championship match, Garmany wrestled a spectacular match but fell just short of winning the Sectional Championship title. North Hall’s Bowie Eisenberg was able to eke out just enough points to defeat Garmany 5-3.
Despite the loss in the finals, Garmany punched his ticket to the State Championship with a 2-1 run during Sectional.
Along with the two Sectional champions and the three Sectional runner-ups, the Indians also had one more of their wrestlers punch their ticket to the State Championship tournament.
Lumpkin’s Jack Irwin (132), who came into the tournament with a record of 55-24, marked the sixth of the seven Indian wrestlers representing the purple and gold at Sectional to punch their ticket to State when he bounced back from a loss in the semifinal match to wrestle his way back to a fourth place finish.
The sophomore cruised through the first two rounds of the first day of action, pinning Sonoraville’s John Smith in a quick round match and Windsor Forest’s Austin Luster in a hard fought quarterfinal match.
The impressive first day by the Lumpkin up-and-comer assured Irwin of a State berth and a top four finish.
However, Irwin encountered a set back on the second day of the tournament when he faced off with Parker Coy of Lovett in the semifinals. Coy was able to get the upper hand early in the match and handed Irwin his first loss of the tournament with a first period pin. The defeat dropped Irwin to the consolation bracket.
Irwin didn’t let the loss affect him for too long and bounced back from the Coy pin by showcasing his technical skills and strength in the consolation semifinals against Pace Academy’s Sam Howe. Irwin put on a display of smart wrestling versus Howe and kept piling points up on the Pace Academy wrestler until he earned himself a technical fall by a final score of 17-1. The victory advanced Irwin to the third/fourth place match.
Irwin spectacular Sectional performance came to an end in the third place match, as Adairsville’s James Standridge pinned Irwin in the first period. Irwin would have to settle for fourth place at the event.
Despite not winning his final match of the tournament, Irwin wrestled well enough to place in the top six at the event and punched his ticket to State with his 3-2 performance at Sectional.
The only Lumpkin wrestler to compete at Sectional and not advance to State was freshman TJ Payne (126).
Payne fell two spots shy of qualifying for State, earning an eighth place finish at the event.
The freshman came into the tournament with a record of 47-24, but encountered his first obstacle to his road towards State with a first round 6-0 loss to Austin Dudley of Adairsville. The loss dropped Payne to the consolation bracket. After a bye in the first round of consolation matches, Payne then pinned Savannah Arts Academy’s Chris Latson to keep his hope alive. Unfortunately, Payne’s hopes were shattered in the third round of consolations when he fell to Lovett’s Jeremiah Allen by a 4-0 decision.
The defeat dropped Payne out of State contention, and the freshman wrestler ended up finishing eighth in his weight class at Sectional after a 7-0 loss to Ethan Powell of Dawson County in the seventh/eighth place match.
Despite not advancing to State, Payne’s freshman season indicates that the young Lumpkin wrestler is headed in the right direction on the mat and should be an Indian to watch in the future.
On the girls’ side, Lumpkin wrestlers Charlotte Cunningham and Olivia Gilleland both earned bids to the State Championships with strong performances at Sectional. Lady Indian Olivia Garcia finished in third place at the tournament and will wait to see if she receives an at-large bid to State.
Lady Indian Chloe Carver failed to qualify for State, losing a tough match to Dawson County, but displayed the never-say-quit, never-say-die mentality that the Lady Indians’ team showcased throughout the wrestling season.
With six of the seven wrestlers participating at Sectional advancing to the GHSA State Wrestling Championship and five of those six finishing second place or higher combined with the success of the girls wrestling team, the two-day Sectional event proved to be an action packed success for the LCHS wrestling team.
The Indians and Lady Indians will now focus on the best wrestling competition the state of Georgia has to offer when they travel to the Macon Centerplex for the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship for an opportunity to prove that they are the best of the best on the mats.
The GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship spans three days and is set to run from Thursday to Saturday, Feb. 13-15.