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Vidalia Wrestling Places Three at the State Tournament
Monday, 24 February 2014

February 24--The Vidalia Indian Wrestling team finished sixth place in the traditional state tournament paced by three state place winners.  “We are very proud of our entire team as well as the four state qualifiers.  Our goal has been to be a top ten team in the traditional tournament all season.  This team and these four worked hard to make it happen,” commented Coach James Ferry.

Tyler Campbell at 145 pounds, started the day for the Indians with an aggressive attempt to dethrone the reigning state runner up Joe Stroud of Bremen.  Stroud eventually defeated Campbell by pin.  Campbell’s next round opponent, Heath Kirk of Chattooga, defeated Vidalia’s Campbell 7 – 1 in a tough match.

Devin Johnson at 182 pounds was winning his first round match 12 – 5 when Eddie Gibson of Northeast Macon caught him in an awkward position for a pin.  Devastated but determined, Johnson defeated Tradd Porter of Jefferson; a former state placer and member of the fourteen time state championship team; by the score of 5 – 2.  Johnson then defeated fellow east sectional qualifier Aiden Jarrett of Greater Atlanta Christian by the score of 3 – 2 to earn a place in the consolation finals.  Seemingly stronger and more unwavering then previous matches of the day, Johnson was beating Westminster’s Chase Williams 12 – 1 when he pinned his opponent to earn third place in Class AA in Georgia. “Devin demonstrated something about his character by battling back through the entire field to take third,” stated Coach Steve Fullam.

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(VHS Senior Daniel Copeland in action at state tournament)

Daniel Copeland at 195 pounds, a three time state qualifier and now two time state place winner, started his day with an impressive first round second period pin of Brandon Krupczak of Westminster.  Copeland faced Clayton Thornbury of Murray County in the semifinals.  Thornbury also a multi-time state qualifier, area champion, and sectional champion, defeated Vidalia’s Copeland with a pin. Copeland faced Tyler Seawright of Monticello in the consolation semifinals and defeated him with an extraordinary 10 – 0 major decision. Copeland faced Jefferson’s Deshon Lester once again for the third place match. Wrestling in his final match of his career, 163 matches, Copeland wrestled like the champion, captain, and Indian he has always been. Copeland defeated Lester 3 – 2 to capture his second state medal and earn third place in Class AA in Georgia. Coach Bobby Blount said, “Daniel will always be able to say he won his final wrestling match.”

Shakeem Lassiter at 285 pounds seemingly set the tournament up the way he wanted it weeks in advance. Lassiter place third at area and fourth at sectionals to fall in the bottom half of the bracket and face west sectional champion Brice Pence of Pepperell in the first round. Knowing Pence had a tough head lock, Lassiter worked on his defense of it and defeated the west sectional champion 11 – 5.

Lassiter faced a familiar foe in the semifinals, Dexter Smith of East Laurens. These two have battled for the past two years at every local tournament in the heavyweight class. Today was Lassiter’s though.  Riding an early takedown in the first period, Lassiter defeated Smith 5 – 3 to advance to the state finals.

The final match of the traditional state tournament was at 285 pounds. Teams traveled from all over the state for a chance at a state championship and the final match would be held between two competitors six miles apart. Eric Hester of Toombs, taking a page out of Lassiter’s season, got an early takedown and rode it to a 5 – 2 victory over Lassiter.  Lassiter earned the honor of being a state runner up in Class AA and one of the best heavyweights in the state based on who he has beat during his 49 win season. “We are all very proud of the tournament and season Shakeem put together. He made a conscious decision to be in the state finals at last year’s tournament and made sure that statement came true,” stated Coach Ferry.

 
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