The Adairsville wrestling team has continued to improve through the recent weeks. Following a third-place showing at Social Circle, the Tigers finished second at the Heart of Dixie in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, in the final days of December before winning the Murray County Invitational this past weekend.
While the results, particularly the improving nature of them, would be impressive no matter when they occurred, for them to take place in the lead up to this coming weekend's area duals at Sonoraville is especially encouraging.
"It's been exactly what we hoped for, an opportunity to continue to improve and challenge our guys to rise to the opponent they have in front of them and prepare themselves for the area duals tournament," Adairsville head coach Ryan Torrence said of the results.
The Tigers placed nine in the top four at Murray County and 10 at Vestavia Hills. That included three individual champions in Angel Banda (113 pounds), Cody Shook (152) and Nic Jackson (170).
It's amazing what having a completely healthy roster will do for a team.
"This is the first time in four years we've had a fully filled lineup," Torrence said. "It's the first time in three years that we've had more than one senior. We're happy to be where we're at, but we're not satisfied. We've got more work to do."
While there is more work to be done, most of the preparation for area duals has already taken place. By this point, Torrence knows his athletes have figured out what they need to do in order to challenge for a top-two spot in the area duals to move on to state.
"At this point, we're trying to stay healthy and have a little bit of fun," Torrence said. "We'll have senior night [Tuesday night] at home against Model and Hiram. We try to do something a little light the week of area, so the guys don't burn themselves out with the pressure of the week coming up. They can be a little bit fresh and ready. ...
"We put together three really good practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and give it all we've got on Saturday."
The key for Adairsville this season has been the senior class. The group entered as freshmen at the time Torrence took over the program, and the growth the five seniors have shown is something in which the head coach takes a lot of pride.
"We saw something special in them, when they started as freshmen," Torrence said. "Seeing something special in them and getting something special out of them is two different things. These guys have really put the work in. They decided when they were young that they wanted to do something special together. They've been doing it. ...
"They're the ones who are setting the example for all these younger guys and the tone for what we want the program to be in the future. I can't ask for more out of them. They're a fantastic group of guys."
While the seniors have been hugely influential, directly contributing to results and helping make their teammates better along the way, Torrence said it's been a true team effort to get the Tigers to this point. It will take another outstanding display to send Adairsville to the state duals tournament.
"Week over week, we're just improving," Torrence said. "We're reminding them constantly that all these tournaments, all the matches we're doing now are just practice. They know that. ... Every single match, all we do is evaluate what we did well and what we need to work on, and take that and move it to the next one.
"Nothing matters until this Saturday. That will be the one that tells the story."
He added, "We're just hoping we can rise to the occasion."
Colonels finish 3rd in Florida
Five Cass wrestlers won their weight class over the weekend in the Keystone Memorial at the Clay County Fairgrounds in Green Cove Springs, Florida.
The Colonels finished third as a team in the event, as five other local grapplers took home second place for Cass. Host Fleming Island won the competition with Columbia, Florida, coming in second and Cass third.
Bryce Kresho won at 115 pounds with a pair of pins following a first-round bye. Ben Mills had a bye into the finals of the 128-pound class before earning a narrow 7-5 decision to win the title. One weight class higher, Nick Mills landed a 6-4 decision in the 134-pound final after a semifinal pin.
Kendall Arnold used a pair of pins at 154 pounds to clinch a first-place finish. Reed Davis secured a major decision in the championship of the 197-pound class.
Isaac Linley (108 pounds), Hunter Rees (122), Kameron Depasquale (140), Alex Depasquale (162) and Noah Hoffmeier (184) each finished second in their respective classes.
Elsewhere, Cameron Hill placed third at 172 pounds and Adan Urizar wound up fourth at 147.
Cass will join Woodland at the area duals this Saturday at East Paulding.