Three Lumpkin wrestlers win State

  • Pictured (from left): Nolan Wheeler flexes his muscles after becoming only the second Lumpkin County wrestler to win three State Championship titles. Sam Irwin gets hyped up after grappling his way to back-to-back State Championship titles. Austin Garmany pulled off a late win by pin to secure his first State Championship title.
    Pictured (from left): Nolan Wheeler flexes his muscles after becoming only the second Lumpkin County wrestler to win three State Championship titles. Sam Irwin gets hyped up after grappling his way to back-to-back State Championship titles. Austin Garmany pulled off a late win by pin to secure his first State Championship title.
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The LCHS varsity wrestling team enjoyed a healthy dose of success when the Indians took to the mats at the Macon Centreplex for the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship this past weekend, Feb. 13-15.
The team watched seven of its eight participating wrestlers grapple their way to becoming State placers, including three State Championship titles, during the three-day state event.
Seniors Nolan Wheeler, Sam Irwin and Austin Garmany each battled through the toughest competition in Georgia to be crowned State Champions at the event.
Wheeler (160 pounds) became just the second wrestler in Lumpkin County history to win three State titles, earning his third straight championship with a 3-1 win by decision in the finals against Adairsville’s Dalton Cornett.
Wheeler joined Lumpkin County wrestling legend Stan Lewis as the only other Indian wrestler to win three State Championship titles. Lewis, who is currently the athletic director for Hall County, accomplished the feat by winning the championship in 1982, 1983 and 1984.
Wheeler, who received a bye in the first round of competition at the event, cruised through his quarterfinal and semifinal matches. Wheeler earned a first period win by pin against Franklin County’s Simon Burger in the quarterfinal match, pinning Burger in a minute and 57 seconds (1:57). After making short work of Burger, Wheeler battled it out with Stone Mountain’s Joshua Jones in the semifinals. Wheeler was able to pull out a last second win by pin in the third period against Jones to advance to his third straight finals match.
In the finals, Wheeler displayed the smart wrestling that had earned him his previous two State Champion titles and avoided making any mistake versus his Adairsville opponent. In the end, Wheeler was able to edge out Cornett 3-1.
Wheeler exploded in celebration when the final buzzer sounded, as his coaches strapped a championship belt to his waist.
The senior finished the 2019-2020 season with an overall record of 64-4 and his third straight championship.
Irwin (182) came into the State Championship tournament with two losses on the season and a number one ranking. The defending State Champion received a bye in the first round and then proceeded to take down his quarterfinal and semifinal opponents to advance to his second straight finals match.
Irwin pinned Cherokee Bluff’s Myka Sims in the quarterfinal. Irwin jumped out to an early 7-1 advantage in the first period and in the second period got Sims to his shoulders and earned himself a win by pin in 2:33. Irwin then put on a clinic of technique and strength when he earned a 12-4 major decision victory over Jackson County’s Aiden Giroux.
Irwin ran into a bit of trouble in the finals match versus John Lovett of Pike County. After jumping out to an early lead with an aggressive approach, Irwin found himself on the defense against Lovett. However, Irwin was able to score enough points before the final whistle sounded to defeat Lovett by a final score of 8-6.
The win marked the second straight State Championship title for Irwin, allowing the senior to finish his high school career with a bang.
Irwin finished his senior season with an overall record of 75-2 and back-to-back State titles.
Joining Wheeler and Irwin on the top of the podium at the GHSA event was senior heavyweight Austin Garmany.
Garmany, who transferred from Newnan to join the Indians towards the end of the regular season, showed off his tremendous strength and his high wrestling IQ to defeat his opponents and earn his first State Championship title.
After a first round bye, Garmany proceeded to pin all three of his opponents on his way to being crowned champion.
In the quarterfinals, Garmany picked up a win by pin against Sonoraville’s Brandon Bristol, pushing Bristol’s shoulders to the mat in 2:53.
Garmany followed his quarterfinal victory by pinning Adam Lamar of Central Macon in the semifinals. Garmany had to battle in the match, but was able to overpower Lamar and pin him in the second period to advance to the finals.
In the finals, Garmany found himself matched up versus Islands’ KyShon Williams. Williams size and strength proved to be troublesome for Garmany, who fell behind in points late in the match. However, Garmany was able to record two takedowns late in the third period, including one that would flip Williams to his back. With seconds to spare, Garmany squeezed his opponent until his shoulders fell to the mat to earn a win by pin and his first State Champion title.
Garmany finished his senior season with a record of 18-4 and the State Champion crown.
While Wheeler, Irwin and Garmany grappled their way to State Championship titles, the Indians also had four other wrestlers fight their way to becoming State placers at the event.
Senior Ethan Kline (195) fought back from a semifinal loss to Jackson County’s Tyler Wester to earn himself a third place finish during the State tournament.
After receiving a first round bye, Kline handed Westminster’s Lowell Jones a 7-3 loss in the quarterfinals. Kline was then pinned by Wester in the semifinals, dropping him into the consolation bracket.
From there, the senior fought his way back into State placer contention with a consolation semifinal 2-1 win by decision over Monroe Area’s Benard Manga. The victory allowed Kline the opportunity to wrestle in the third place match where he pulled out a 10-8 win by decision over Mason Gilham of Pike County.
The victory allowed Kline to finish in third place at the State event, finishing his senior season with a record of 47-12.
Senior Levi Seabolt (170) also became a State placer during the event. Seabolt battled back from a quarterfinal loss to Sonoraville’s Jebb Knight in his quarterfinal match to earn fourth place.
Seabolt’s early loss dropped him into the consolation bracket. Seabolt didn’t let the early hiccup affect him and proceeded to earn technical falls against Haydin Harris of Calhoun and David Watts of Rutland. Seabolt defeated Harris 19-3 and Watts 16-0 to advance to the consolation semifinals.
Seabolt continued to wrestled well in the consolation semifinals and picked up a 6-2 win by decision versus Jefferson’s Avery Nelms to earn a spot in the third place match.
Unfortunately, Seabolt wasn’t able to get the upper hand against North Hall’s Hunter Adams in the third place match and fell to Adams in a closely contested match by a final score of 3-1.
With the loss, Seabolt settled for fourth place.
Seabolt finished his senior season with a record of 79-21.
Jack Irwin (132), the younger brother of Sam Irwin, proved his up-and-coming status on the team with his first State placer finish.
Irwin displayed patience, heart and grit in his opening round match versus Brandon Grindle of Morgan County. Down 11-4 in the third period, Irwin was able to finally get the takedown he had been working all match for and rolled Grindle onto his back for a win by pin. The victory advanced Irwin to the quarterfinals.
North Hall’s Jackson Whitmire made Irwin’s road to becoming a State placer more difficult when he was able to pin Irwin in the first period of the quarterfinal match. The loss dropped Irwin to the consolation bracket where he would have to wrestle his way back into State placing contention.
Irwin did just that with a 6-0 win by decision over Jefferson’s Christian Parten and a 4-0 win by decision against Franklin County’s Jerry Pritchett. The two wins put Irwin in the consolation semifinals.
Unfortunately, Irwin suffered his second loss of the tournament in the consolation semifinals when James Standridge of Adairsville was able to pin Irwin seconds before the end of the first period.
The defeat dropped Irwin to the fifth place match. After jumping out to a 7-4 advantage, Irwin earned a forfeit win over George Ayers, who could not finish the match. The victory allowed Irwin to earn his first State placer title, earning him fifth in State.
Irwin, just a sophomore, finished the 2019-2020 season with a record of 63-28.
With three State Champions and three State placers out of the six Indian wrestlers who participated at the event, Lumpkin County was able to finish in third place in the team standings behind second place North Hall and first place Sonoraville and ahead of wrestling powerhouses Jefferson and Lovett.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Indians had two of their four wrestlers compete at the State Championship tournament in the team’s inaugural season.
Charlotte Cunningham (132) became the first female from Lumpkin County to become a State placer with a sixth place finish during the three-day event.
Cunningham began the tournament with a first round win by pin over Harris County’s Sam Scarbrough. Cunningham then faced a loss to Jatiana Forde in the quarterfinals, dropping her to the consolation bracket.
As she has shown all season, Cunningham didn’t allow the quarterfinal defeat get her down and the Lady Indians proceeded to earn two straight wins to advance to the consolation semifinals. Cunningham defeated Whitewater’s Julia Siversteen with a sudden victory and then defeated Creekview’s Grace Botts with a 7-5 win by decision in order to advance to the consolation semifinals.
In the consolation semifinals, Cunningham suffered her second loss of the tournament when she was pinned in the third period by Raven Cook of Jackson County. The loss dropped Cunningham to the fifth place match.
North Paulding’s Glenda Veiga proved to be too powerful for Cunningham to get past. Veiga earned a first period win by pin over Cunningham, making the Lady Indian a State place with a sixth place finish.
The other Lady Indians wrestler, Olivia Gilleland was the only Lumpkin wrestler to not place at the State event.
Cunningham finished the 2019-2020 season with an overall record of 21-13.
Gilleland lost both her matches, falling to Oglethorpe County’s Alyssa Tank in first round action before Discovery’s Dianan Quiroz defeated her with a sudden victory in the first round of consolations.
Despite not being able to place at the state event, Gilleland was an integral part to the Lady Indians’ success in their first season as a team. Gilleland finished the season with a record of 15-12.
With seven of the eight wrestlers representing Lumpkin County finishing sixth or higher, including three earning State Championship titles; the 2019-2020 season proved to be one of the most successful for the team in recent history.
“You can’t really ask for more,” said first-year LCHS head wrestling coach Sean Hage. “We had seven of eight place and, with six wrestlers, earned a third place team finish. The fight that our wrestlers showed throughout the tournament was impressive. I am extremely proud of what each of these wrestlers accomplished this weekend.”