Cartersville wrestling team has productive week

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The Cartersville High wrestling team had an eventful and successful few days last week.

After wrestling in a charity event Thursday, the Canes took to the mat Saturday for the Bulldog Brawl Duals at Region 5-AAAA foe Cedartown and placed second at the tournament.

"The boys did really well [Saturday]. We came out and wrestled really well," Cartersville head coach Brooks Gayton said. "The boys fought really hard. So it's nice to have that success."

Cartersville beat Cedartown in the first match of the day, which was important to earn criteria for seeding ahead of the region duals in January. Some of Cartersville's wrestlers could be seeded high than Cedartown wrestlers for the all-important region duals, partially due to Saturday's results.

Then, Cartersville took down Rockmart in the second dual of the day before losing to eventual tournament champ LaFayette, and then beating McIntosh and Landmark Christian in the last two duals.

Gayton said even his team's close loss, 39-34 to LaFayette, featured a strong showing by the Canes.

"We wrestled LaFayette the first week of the year and it wasn't nearly that close," Gayton said. "They've made a lot of improvement since we saw them last. Kids who lost matches against those opponents came back and beat the same guy who had beaten them three weeks ago. So that was really, really nice to see."

Gayton said the Canes received strong performances from Jabril Williams, Kentrel Freeman, Eoin Neal, Tyler Earick and Brady Jenkins, several of whom went 4-1 in the tournament.

Gayton said Freeman pinned a LaFayette wrestler he had lost to earlier in the year, while freshman Joshua Alvarez contributed to the team's performance with a win against LaFayette as well.

Just two days earlier, Cartersville had a successful day for reasons that go beyond the lines.

The Canes visited Hiram and took part in the Cradle For the Cure Duals. Cartersville lost to Hiram, but Gayton said proceeds from the event went to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

"It was a really cool event," Gayton said. "We got to wrestle on the stage there at the Hiram performing arts center. We've never wrestled on a stage like that. … It was a neat environment."

While the Canes had a successful week, Gayton said he's still waiting for around eight or nine potential starters in the 14-man varsity lineup to finish their football season. With the Cartersville football team wrapping up on Dec. 12, Gayton is unsure what his lineup will look like when it's time to qualify for the state tournament.

In the interim, several wrestlers are gaining invaluable experience.

"We're playing with a lot of small guys and some freshmen and JV guys that are filling holes in the lineup right now at the heavier weights," Gayton said. "I've got a lot of kids. We have 30 boys that are working hard and training hard and getting better."