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Four Indians Wrestle at Nationals
Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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(L-R) Darnell Hendley, Reggie Lamb, Devin Williams Shakeem Lassiter

April 16-- The National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Wrestling Championship was held March 28-30 at Virginia Beach, Virginia.  The NHSCA National Tournament is the recognized national high school tournament where the best in the nation meet to compete.  This tournament has been conducted for twenty-five years.  This year’s tournament had 3342 wrestlers from 47 states.  Seniors competing must have been a state champion or runner up during their high school career.  Shakeem Lassiter qualified by finishing second in this year’s GHSA state tournament.

Shakeem opened the tournament with a 3 – 2 victory in overtime over Cameron Kiger of Pennsylvania.  Lassiter then faced Jesse Web of Vermont; a four time Vermont state champion, two-time NHSCA champion, and three time placer.  Webb defeated Lassiter 8 – 4 and went on to finish second in this year’s event.  Lassiter began his second day of competition by defeating Enrique Torres of Virginia; a three time Virginia state placer; with a 3 – 2 overtime victory in the Lassiter form of the ultimate tie breaker.  Lassiter’s tournament was ended by Brion Blades of Maryland; this year’s Maryland state champion; 10-3.  Lassiter finished the tournament in 17th place in the nation.  “This was a good finish to what has been a great senior year.  The only way it could have finished better was by placing in the top eight at nationals,” commented Lassiter after completing his high school wrestling career. 

Devin Johnson faced the eventual national champion and two-time New Jersey state placer, Matthew Correnti, in the opening round of the tournament.  Correnti won the match by fall late in the second period.  Johnson then defeated Timothy Forbes of Virginia with a third period pin.  In the round of sixteen, Johnson pinned Austin Wirth of New York in 38 seconds.  Johnson lost in the round of 12 to Ricardo Dawkins of New York, 10-9, to finish 9th place in the nation.  Johnson stated, “This was an awesome experience to compete on the national stage.  I plan on returning next year and becoming an All-American.” 

Darnell Hendley started his tournament, in a bracket that contained 88 entries, with a 14-4 victory over Keegan Ross of North Carolina.  Hendley then lost to New York fifth place finisher Jordan Bushey by pin.  Hendley’s tournament came to an end with an 8 – 3 loss to Malik Holley of Turner County, Gerogia; this year’s state runner up in Class A.  “We will return next year, better prepared, with more wrestlers, and ready to attack this tournament like the other tournaments the Indians attack each season,” remarked Hendley. 

Reggie Lamb was pinned by Giovanny Bonilla, Florida’s fourth place finisher, to open his tournament.  Nicholas Tibbetts of Virginia then defeated Lamb 3 – 1.  Lamb said, “This was a great experience to build on for next year.” 

When asked about the Indian Wrestlers traveling to Virginia Beach, Coach James Ferry stated, “We should all be very proud that we have student-athletes that are willing to travel to the real National Tournament.  Many others claim to be national tournaments by placing the word ‘national’ in front of their tournament.  The NHSCA Wrestling Nationals is the nationally recognized tournament of champions.”  Ferry continued, “We are all excited about the season Shakeem has had and the return of the underclassmen that competed; representing Georgia and Vidalia proudly.”

 
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