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Wrestling: North celebrates Jarrard's 500th victory with win at Coal Mountain Classic
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North Forsyth wrestling coach Travis Jarrard poses with current and past North wrestlers after accepting a plaque recognizing his 500th career win on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. - photo by David Almeda

Travis Jarrard couldn’t help but crack a smile.

During the lunch break at the 2019 Coal Mountain Classic on Saturday, the North Forsyth wrestling coach of 20 years was called onto the mat, along with a host of past and present wrestlers that he’s coached over his tenure. The crowd in attendance listened in as his accolades were listed off: an all-time record of 509-189, 14 Forsyth County championships, 11 region traditional championships, 10 region duals titles and six individual state champions, among other accomplishments.

And when North Forsyth athletic director Scott Tilden handed him a plaque to commemorate his 500 career wins, Jarrard beamed as his former and current athletes congratulated him.

“I don't really put a whole lot into all the hoopla and my statistics; that's not why I'm here, but that one meant a lot,” Jarrard said. “Five hundred wins was something that I didn't necessarily mind celebrating.

“I was joking around earlier that we counted that there were six people that were there for win No. 1 tonight. That was really cool, so I really liked that. That was really neat.”

He liked what his team did at the actual event, too. The Raiders took the top team spot at the tournament on Saturday with 182 points, followed by Forsyth Central, which finished second with 149. Central and North each had four individual champions, while Pinecrest Academy finished with one in Mark Metz (132).

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North Forsyth's Tate Bissell grapples with Kell's Keith Williams on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019. - photo by David Almeda
For North, Saturday was a promising result as a team that hasn’t really had a chance to hit its stride yet, with Michael Gryder (113), Tate Bissell (152), Bentley Wheeler (160) and Mason Butcher (182) all winning their respective brackets. Butcher’s final bout with Central’s Zach Redecker was one of the more exciting of the night, with Butcher winning by fall 4:30 in.

“We've come a long way to where we are now from where we were that first week in October,” Jarrard said. “It’s been kind of a weird season so far. I started late because of softball, about half the kids came out later than usual because of football. Shortly after all the football players came out, we rolled right into Thanksgiving break, and now they come back for a couple of weeks and now we're right into Christmas break.”

Central had itself a standout night, though. Tyson Upchurch (106), Avery Krippner (170), Luis Mier (182) and Darius Green (285) all came away with individual titles. Krippner bested North’s Andrew Sexton 7-0 in their final round. Metz, a defending GHSA individual champion in Class 1A Private, defeated Newnan’s Marlin Wortham 9-0 for Pinecrest’s sole title.

North will have a week to rest again before embarking on the rest of the season. By the time it's over, the Raiders hope to be right where they need to be.

“(There were) a lot of positives, a lot of stuff we need to work on, but if we look at the whole grand scheme of things, I'd say right now we're ahead of schedule,” Jarrard said.