North Forsyth wrestling took home top honors at Saturday’s Region 6-AAAAAA traditional tournament, finishing first in the team standings and qualifying 13 wrestlers for sectionals.
The Raiders ran away with the championship, earning 207 points -- 52 more than any other school. Chattahoochee (155) edged South (152.5) for second, followed by Lambert (119), West Forsyth (66), Centennial (48), Johns Creek (47) and Alpharetta (11).
Additionally, five Raiders won their respective weight classes, and four others made it to the finals. This success provides them with strong seeding heading into the next round.
“Getting a good bracket draw is huge,” said North head coach Travis Jarrard. “Those who finished third or fourth in their tournaments will have a tougher time and will have to put in the work this week, but we’re in a good spot right now.
While Jarrard is happy with the results, he was disappointed that not all of his wrestlers were able to move on to sectionals. Nonetheless, North will be well-represented at sectionals next week in Lowndes County.
“Thirteen out of 14 feels good, but it’s still hard in a way,” Jarrard said. “But 13 is a pretty big deal; we’ve never qualified that many before. We’re happy with that.”
One of the best stories of the day was the success of South Forsyth, which qualified 12 wrestlers for sectionals -- up from seven qualifiers last season. The War Eagle program has blossomed in 2013-14 under the tutelage of first-year head coach Danny Sinnott.
Senior War Eagle Daniel Rech won the 145 class, giving him his fourth sectional qualifier in four years. South’s program has changed drastically since his freshman campaign, and when asked why this change has taken place, he was quick to answer.
“Coaching has been everything,” he said. “We’ve reached a completely new level this year, and today’s results show that. We’re really excited to move forward and getting better and better.”
“Coming from last year, this is huge,” said Bryan Troye, who is also heading to sectionals in the 160 class. “Our coach has done a huge turnaround with our program and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Earlier in the year there was a significant disparity in the region between North and Chattahoochee -- the upper echelon, so to speak--and the other five schools. By coming within several points of Chattahoochee on Saturday, South appears to have closed that gap.
That was one of the War Eagle’s goals for 2013-14, and their ability to achieve that says a lot about the state of South wrestling.
“Hard work pays off, and that’s something we’re trying to create,” Sinnott said. “And it’s starting to show.
“This is a passion for me. If you show your wrestlers you care about them and you spend time to get them better, they’re going to respond. That’s what we’ve been able to do.”
Moving forward, North and South are both confident they can do well at sectionals next weekend. Lambert and West Forsyth will have the opportunity to do some damage, as well, with nine and three qualifiers, respectively.
“We feel great qualifying 12, but these 12 have to work hard this week and peak at the right time,” said Sinnott. “We’re just going to go after it and see how many we can get through.”
“My goal every year is to win state championships,” Jarrard added. “Right now we have 13 kids left, so my goal is to get them all to state.
“At this point anything can happen. When you get to this stage, if you stay focused anything can happen. We’re going to try to win the matches we’re supposed to, and some we’re not supposed to, and hopefully everything else takes care of itself.”