State wrestling championships: Locke is North Murray's first state title winner; Creek's Sanchez, Dalton's Souther, Southeast's Webb finish 2nd
Feb. 20—"When I first met Brandon Locke in June, he told me he would be the first state champ at (North Murray High School)," first-year Mountaineers wrestling coach David Thornbury wrote on social media. "I thought it would take a year or two."
Locke, a freshman, proved his coach wrong on Saturday.
Locke became the first Mountaineers wrestler to win a state championship, taking the crown in the Class 2A, 106-pound weight class.
At the Georgia High School Association wrestling state championships in Macon, Locke took down Rockmart's Malachi Macedonio, an Area 7-2A foe, by a 7-2 decision in the championship round Saturday to win the first state championship for the Mountaineers. Locke won by fall in both the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the state meet. He downed Banks County's Xander Ledford in the quarters, then took down Eagles Landing Christian Academy's Jack Shuler in the semifinal to set up a showdown with Macedonio.
Locke came in third in the 106-pound division at the Area 7-2A meet, watching Macedonio win areas two weeks prior. Locke returned the favor by winning sectionals the next week as Macedonio placed third, then took the victory on the state stage.
Locke was the only state champion wrestler from any school from Whitfield or Murray counties, but several locals placed near the top of their classifications and weight classes, including a trio of second-place finishers.
Creek's Sanchez, Dalton's Souther, Southeast's Webb finish second
A defending state champion in Class 4A, Southeast's Olli Webb fell one step shy of repeating this year.
Webb earned a spot in Class 4A's 113-pound championship match, but the sophomore ran up against senior Alex Hyman of Lovett School, who has a 36-3 record on the year. The match went through the regular rounds and overtime periods still tied, and Webb fell in the ultimate tiebreaker round to finish in second place.
Coahulla Creek's Adonnis Sanchez reached the championship match in Class 3A's 106-pound division before falling to Juan Rafael of Gilmer County by sudden victory.
Dalton's Riley Souther pushed into the finals of the 285-pound weight class in Class 5A before dropping a 3-1 decision to Jefferson's Sammy Brown.
Local trio of third-place finishers
Dalton's Stryker Woods, Murray County's Caleb Blair and North Murray's Elijah Harden each finished third in the state for their respective classification and weight division.
Woods came in third in the Class 5A, 215-pound division, knocking off Ware County's Jabare George in the third-place match.
Blair downed Dabvn Wadley of Toombs County by a 3-2 decision in the third place match of Class 2A's 138-pound class.
Hardin would have become the highest state placer in North Murray history at third, if not for his teammate winning it all. Hardin defeated Wyatt Stanley of Putnam County by a 14-7 decision in the third-place match in Class 2A's 113-pound class.
Good finish for several locals
In addition to Sanchez, Coahulla Creek added a fourth-place finisher and two fifth-place finishers in Class 3A.
Danny Liddy was fourth in the 120-pound class. Drake Goff tied for a fifth-place finish in 126 pounds, while Levi Lowery was tied for fifth in 215.
Murray County's Aaron Flood tied for fifth place in Class 2A's 175-pound division.
Northwest Whitfield's Daniel Soto was the only Bruin to place at state, taking a tie for fifth in Class 4A's 175-pound division.
Southeast's Steven Morales and Bryan Ruiz joined Webb as top-six finishers. Morales was fourth in Class 4A's 132-pound division, while Ruiz was tied for fifth in 106 pounds.
Southeast also sent a pair of wrestlers to the girls state championship meet in Macon. Terra Burse placed fourth in the 170-pound weight class across all classifications. Ninel Chacon competed in the 120-pound division, but didn't place in the top six.