Wrestling team ready for Area tourney

  • Lady Indians wrestler Olivia Gilleland locks up with one her opponents at the Burnt Mountain Classic. Gilleland won her first tournament championship of her career with a first place finish at the event.
    Lady Indians wrestler Olivia Gilleland locks up with one her opponents at the Burnt Mountain Classic. Gilleland won her first tournament championship of her career with a first place finish at the event.
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The LCHS varsity wrestling team enjoyed much success on the mats last week, including having three of its wrestlers being ranked number one in the state, completely dominating rival White County in dual action and earning a third place team finish at the Burnt Mountain Classic.
The strong performances by the Indians over the course of last week indicate that Lumpkin’s wrestlers are geared up and ready to take on the competition at the upcoming Area Traditional tournament hosted by The Lovett School this Saturday, Feb. 1.
The week started with a team dual versus the White County Warriors on Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Tribe House.
The Warriors looked to surprise the Indians on their home mat, but Lumpkin’s wrestlers proved to be too focused and too powerful for White County to defeat.
The Indians cruised to a lopsided 48-18 victory against the Warriors, allowing Lumpkin to earn a win in its first competition after missing out on the recent GHSA State Dual Championships.
Midway through the week, the Indians received a huge confidence boost when the rankings for high school wrestlers in the state of Georgia came out and among the names listed with number one rankings were Lumpkin’s own Nolan Wheeler, Sam Irwin and Levi Seabolt.
The news was met with excitement, as it spread across social media.
The success continued to spread like wildfire within the ranks of the wrestling team when the Indians and Lady Indians took part in the Burnt Mountain Classic traditional wrestling tournament hosted by Pickens County High School on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 24-25.
Head coach Sean Hage was hesitant about scheduling a two-day event so late in the season, but was pleased that he did after his team grappled their way to a third place team finish by earning four top four individual performances in the boys’ tournament and three top three finishes in the girls’ tournament.
“You know I switched up the schedule because I didn’t want to have to travel that far, but I wasn’t sure that a two-day tournament would be a good thing,” said Hage. “But, given the improvement I’ve seen this weekend, I feel that we are better prepared for Area now.”
The Indians battled their way to a third place team finish, earning four top four placers during the two days of intense action.
Defending State champion Irwin, Seabolt, TJ Payne, Colten Foster and Trevor Coryell each picked up wins against formidable competition in the first round to give the Indians a solid start to the tournament.
Both Irwin and Seabolt continued to bring their signature styles of mayhem to the mats and improved to 2-0 on the day with second round wins, moving them to the semifinals the next day.
Two-time State Champion Wheeler, who received a first round bye, earned himself a win in the second round of the tournament to advance to the semifinals.
Another Indian wrestler to receive a first round bye, Ethan Kline, also picked up a win in the second round to advance, giving Lumpkin four wrestlers in the semifinals.
Jack Irwin, Foster, Coryell and Payne each suffered losses in second round action, forcing them to have to battle back through the consolation bracket.
The following day Coryell did just that when he battled his way back through the consolation bracket to secure himself a spot in the third/fourth place match. Unfortunately, Coryell couldn’t maintain his momentum in the match and fell, earning him a fourth place finish.
Irwin, Wheeler, Seabolt and Kline continued to undo their opponents as they had done on the first day of the Burnt Mountain Classic and each secured themselves a spot in the tournament championship match for their respective weight divisions with impressive wins in the semifinals.
However, only Irwin would emerge at a tournament champion.
Wheeler suffered just his second loss of the season in the finals to earn himself a second place finish and Seabolt ran out of gas in the finals to finish in second place as well.
On the girls’ side, Olivia Gilleland, Charlotte Cunningham and Elvia Garcia all put in powerful performances to earn themselves top three finishes during the girls’ portion of the tournament.
Gilleland grappled her way to a first place finish in her weight class to secure her first ever tournament championship title.
“I really think that wrestling has given a lot of us more confidence,” said Gilleland. “It makes you stronger mentally, as well as physically.”
Cunningham displayed power, speed and an unflinching aggressive against her opponents at the tournament to secure herself a spot in the championship match. However, Cunningham was unable to keep her win streak going in the finals and had to settle for second place and the Burnt Mountain Classic runner-up title in her weight class.
Garcia also put on an impressive performance representing the Lady Indians at the tournament, earning herself a third place finish in her weight class.
The success that the LCHS varsity wrestling squad enjoyed is hopefully a precursor to what the team can accomplish when they take part in the Area Traditional tournament in hopes of getting one step closer to the GHSA Traditional State Tournament and a chance to win a State championship title.
The Indians will take to the mats on the hunt to capture glory when they travel to The Lovett School for the Area Traditional tournament this Saturday, Feb. 1. Wrestling is scheduled to start at 9 a.m.