Scarbor optimistic about wrestling program's future

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Wayne Grandy, The Moultrie Observer, Ga.
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Feb. 21—MOULTRIE — Camden County has been the gold standard in Georgia High School wrestling for the last seven seasons.

The Wildcats have won both the state duals and state individual championships in Class 7A each year since 2017.

In 2015 and 2016, Camden did not compete in the state's largest classification, but in what was then Class 5A, and won both titles in those two years as well.

The last time Camden was not a state champion was in 2014.

In recent years, Collins Hill, Archer, Mountain View, North Forsyth and West Forsyth have attempted, but not been able, to knock the Wildcats from their pedestal.

This year, Colquitt County, under coach Benjy Scarbor, made the case for another South Georgia program with the moxie to challenge the Wildcats.

The Packers finished third in the recent state duals tournament and were fourth in the state traditional tournament.

Colquitt County had never cracked the top-four before.

Scarbor has pointed out that the points Colquitt scored against Camden in the region duals competition — 19 — were more than the 18 combined points that Archer, Lowndes and West Forsyth managed against the Wildcats in the state duals championships.

The Packers 2020-2021 performance has given Scarbor reason to be optimistic.

"I'd like to be the one to end that streak," Scarbor said.

Scarbor, who grew up in Omega and graduated from Tift County High in 1993, has been the Packers head coach since the 2017-2018 season, after having held that position at Valdosta High since 2004.

His successful tenure at Valdosta included nine state individual champions. He has added two more — Nic Jarvis and Austin Paradice — since he has been in Moultrie.

Scarbor is looking forward to the 2021-2022 season with more than the usual anticipation.

He will have seven of his top wrestlers back, including Paradice, who won the state championship with a dominating four-pin performance at 145; Ethan Sellers, who was third at 126 at state; and Nate Taylor, who was fifth at 138.

James Bledsoe, at 220; Gabe Freeman, at 113; Jesus Grijalva, at 170; and Eric Henson at 116, also were underclassmen this season and qualified for the state traditional tournament.

And there are several promising wrestlers who will join the varsity next season, including Paradice's younger brother Logan, who is likely to compete at 132 pounds.

"He's a technician like his brother, but also has a bit of a mean streak," Scarbor said of the younger Paradice.

Scarbor also likes the potential of Russell Flowers, expected to wrestle at 160.

Scarbor noted that having a large number of wrestlers is not as important as having them in the right weight classes.

He is concerned that right now he does not have a wrestler projected for 195 pounds.

Scarbor hopes to have that potential problem addressed by the start of next season.

"The program is going in the right direction," Scarbor said. "We just want to keep them wrestling."