Lumpkin wrestling shows off strength before Region Duals

  • Lumpkin wrestler Ethan Kline squeezes the strength out of his opponent to get his shoulders to the mat for a win by pin during the Murray County Invitational this past weekend.
    Lumpkin wrestler Ethan Kline squeezes the strength out of his opponent to get his shoulders to the mat for a win by pin during the Murray County Invitational this past weekend.
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The LCHS varsity wrestling team finished up its busy holiday break with success when the Indians competed in the Murray County Indian Invitational hosted by Murray High School on Saturday, Jan. 4.
The Indians showcased their power, speed and technique when they brought their signature brand of mayhem to the mats at the traditional tournament.
The team saw two of its wrestlers earn first place finishes, two win runner-up honors and two others place third at the event to capture a second place finish behind Gilmer County in the team standings.
Two-time State Champion Nolan Wheeler and defending State Champion Sam Irwin continued to dominate the competition this season by wrestling their way to first place finishes at the all-day tournament, allowing them to be crowned as the Murray County Invitational champions.
Wheeler (160 pounds) cruised through the early rounds of the tournament, earning three straight wins by pins to secure a spot in the championship match.
Wheeler took down Jared Hartley of S.E. Whitfield in the first round, pinning Hartley in a minute and 48 seconds (1:48). After Wheeler defeated Hartley, the Lumpkin standout then battled it out with North Murray’s Fabian Salacies. Salacies proved to be a bit more of a challenge, but Wheeler was still able to earn himself a win by pin when he got Salacies to his back and muscled his shoulders to the mat two and a half minutes into the match. Wheeler then put in a powerful performance against Gilmer County’s Hunter Brown. The Bobcats’ wrestler wasn’t able to weather Wheeler’s solid technique and strength and Wheeler earned himself a spot in the championship match with a win by pin in 1:46.
Wheeler’s toughest match of the day came in the finals when he was matched up against Model’s Joe Wallace. Wallace proved wily and gave Wheeler few chances to score in the match. However, Wheeler was able to deliver just enough firepower to outwrestle Wallace as the Lumpkin senior pulled out a 3-0 victory to earn the Murray County Invitational championship title.
Wheeler completed the day with a 4-0 record.
Irwin (182) had to put in a bit more time on the mats in order to claim his Murray County Invitational championship title at the tournament, but the senior wrestler did so in grand style.
Irwin, who has lost just one match all season, compiled a record of 7-0 at the traditional tournament to take the championship title.
Irwin began the day with four straight wins by pins against East Coweta’s Ta’Lynn Ellis (1:37), Lamar County’s Christian Bostic (1:33), Sonoraville’s Zakk Ferguson (3:15) and S.E. Whitfield’s Sergio Valdez (1:06). After pinning his first four opponents, Irwin then put on a clinic in scoring against Ringgold’s Kiser Cross. Irwin outwrestled Cross with speed, technique and raw power to earn himself a 17-2 win by technical fall in 2:15. The victory moved Irwin to the semifinals where he faced off with Gilmer County’s Able Jacinto. Jacinto tried to give Irwin a run for his money, but Irwin proved to be too strong and too skilled. In the end, Irwin pinned Jacinto in 1:53 to advance to the championship match.
In the finals, Irwin seized the championship title with a default win over Heritage’s Drake Parker.
TJ Payne (126) and Levi Seabolt (170) also had strong days for Lumpkin at the tournament with each grappling their way to second place finishes.
Payne got off to an easy start with a first round win by forfeit. In the second round, Payne showed off solid technique to defeat Calhoun’s Aiddyn Bennett with a win by pin in 1:38. Payne continued to wrestled well when he took on North Murray’s Hernan Hernandez in the semifinals and earned himself a 5-1 win by decision with some smart wrestling.
Payne’s luck would run out in the finals, however, as Gordon Lee’s Penn Askew was able to eke out a 4-0 win by decision in a close match. Despite the loss, Payne’s second place finish was a positive sign for Lumpkin with the Region Duals coming soon.
Seabolt, who has shown great potential on the mats this season, had to bounce back from a second round loss and wrestle his way back through the consolation bracket in order to make it into the championship match.
Seabolt earned a win by pin in the first round against Lanier’s Sam Morden before losing a close 11-7 decision versus David Bertrand of Mt. Pisgah Christian in the second round. The loss moved Seabolt to the consolation bracket where he would earn a win by pin against Alexander’s Charles Horner (3:19), a 10-5 win by decision over Union Grove’s Alex Troy, a win by pin over Brady Ensley of S.E. Whitfield (0:33) and a 10-6 win by decision versus Jacob Brown of Lakeview Ft. Oglethorpe. The strong string of victories allowed Seabolt to put himself in position to vie for the championship title at the tournament.
However, in the finals Seabolt’s winning streak came to an end when Gilmer County’s Caleb Waddell defeated Seabolt in a 9-1 major decision.
Seabolt went 5-2 on the day to earn second at the event.
Other notable performances came from Lumpkin wrestlers Ethan Kline (195) and Jack Irwin (132), who both wrestled their way to third place finishes at the event.
Kline went 4-1 on the day. All of Kline’s win came by way of pin, including win by pins against North Murray’s Jordan Abernathy, Kell’s Preston Stower and Gilmer County wrestlers Mike Owens and Chad Weaver. A third round loss against Heritage’s Alex Eacret late in the third period was Kline’s only misstep at the tournament, but the loss forced Kline to have to settle for third place at the tournament despite his strong record.
Jack Irwin suffered a second round loss to LaFayette’s Avery Sullivan and had to wrestle his way back through consolations in order to secure his third place finish at the Murray County Invitational. Irwin earned three consecutive wins by pin after his second round loss before forfeiting to Sullivan to end his day.
Irwin went 4-2 on the day to capture third place.
The strong wrestling from Lumpkin’s wrestlers allowed the team to earn enough points to give themselves a second place team finish behind Gilmer County and ahead of Heritage. Lumpkin finished the tournament with 142.5 points
The Murray County tournament marked the final tune up for the Indians before they take part in the upcoming Region Duals tournament hosted by Dawson County.
The LCHS varsity wrestling team hopes that its successes over the holiday break will translate into a strong showing at the Region Duals. The Region Duals are scheduled for this coming Saturday, Jan. 11. Matches are set to start at 9:30 a.m.