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Mat Dogs Head to State with Six Sectional Champs
Tuesday, 11 February 2014

February 11--The Toombs County wrestling team went into this week’s state tournament with six number one seeds based on last week’s sectional tournament. The sectional tournament hosted by Dublin High School brought together Areas 1 and 4 in AA wrestling, making up half of the state.

The tournament featured powerhouses Jefferson and Social Circle out of Area 4 along with the top four finishers from last week’s Area 1 tournament hosted by Toombs County. When the dust had settled, Toombs County had six champs, Jefferson had five champs and Social Circle had three to make up the fourteen champions.

Champions for the Bulldogs were J.J. Arredondo (106 lbs.) who went 3-0 on the day and defeated Justin Van Leeuwan (GAC) 7-0 in the championship round.  Solomon McLeod defeated Aaron Forrester from Social Circle 10-3 in the finals of the 152 lbs. class to claim his sectional championship.  The Bulldogs closed out the tournament winning the last four weight classes. 

In a repeat of last week’s Area finals, Erion Gaffney defeated Devin Johnson from Vidalia in the second period of the 182 lbs. weight class.  The 195 lbs. weight class was another re-match of last week’s Area finals with J.D. Rogers pinning Daniel Copeland of Vidalia by a first period pin.  Jamar Smith followed with a first period pin of Mitchell Shea from GAC.  Eric Hester ended the championship run by the Mat dogs with a 6-0 victory over Dexter Smith from East Laurens in the heavyweight match.  Also wrestling for Toombs County in the sectionals were:  Rafael Florez (113 lbs.) 2-2, 5th place, Nathan Belch (138 lbs.) 2-2, 5th place, Noah Moore (160 lbs.) 0-2, and Jose Delgado (170 lbs.) 0-2.

Coach Bradley Benton commented on the Sectional tournament, “The tournament for us was sort of bittersweet.  The bitter part was not getting but six wrestlers through to state, but the sweet was that we had six sectional champions.  I was hoping we could get at least two more through. Rafael and Nathan had the best chance; they just came up a little short.  All the guys that didn’t get through will be back next year and hopefully they can complete the drill.”

Benton commented on his champions, “I can’t say enough about our six champs.  They have been the heart and soul of our team the whole year.  They have had an amazing two weeks of wrestling.  It is exciting to have the most champs out of, by far, the tougher of two sectionals.  These young men continue to rise to the occasion as the stage gets bigger and bigger.  The great thing about winning your sectional is that these guys will all get a #1 seed.  When you see the brackets in 106, 152, 182, 195, 220, and 285 our guys will be at the top.”

Coach Benton discussed focusing on the individual drills as they head to the state tournament.

"I don’t think I have ever been to a state tournament with six guys who have a legitimate shot at a state title, but it is a great feeling.  Duals are over and our focus is going to be on each wrestler reaching his full potential and the team stuff will take care of itself,” said Benton.

The state tournament will be held at the Gwinnett Arena Friday and Saturday.












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