THE GRIND Championships is presented by Scott's Auto Center. Register and vote at forsythnews.com/grind.
The allure of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament – of March Madness – is the Cinderella story. Of Georgia State taking down Baylor, UAB taking down Iowa State, NC State taking down Villanova, despite whatever havoc it brings upon our brackets.
The first round of the Scott’s Auto Center THE GRIND Championship delivered enough upsets to fill a whole NCAA Tournament!
Horizon Christian Academy boys basketball player Josiah Laws pulled off the ultimate upset. As the lowest seed in the 46-athlete tournament, Laws ostensibly had no chance of advancing. Instead, he moves on to face South Forsyth football player Cameron Kline.
If Round 1 was any indication, the remaining five rounds of THE GRIND Championship should be wild and unpredictable.
Here’s a look back at Round 1 and what to look for as voting begins for Round 2:
Almost one-third of first round match-ups ended in an upset, so congrats to West Forsyth volleyball player Taylor Ashcraft (No. 36 seed), North Forsyth lacrosse player Justin Gibson (38), Pinecrest Academy boys basketball player John Crone (39), North Forsyth mountain biker Kyle Ellis (40) and Laws (46).
Coal Mountain magic
Go to North Forsyth baseball, basketball or football game – really, any North athletic event period! – and you’re likely to see a packed and rowdy crowd of community and students.
So it really shouldn’t be a surprise that Raiders athletes went a perfect 6-0 in the first round with victories for girls basketball player Caroline Bowns, boys basketball player Chad Bureau, football player Colton Miller, wrestler Keigan Radake and Ellis and Gibson.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Coal Mountain community can help North athletes can keep up the early success.
Unfortunately, it’s certain that at least two North athletes will be eliminated in the second round. That’s because there are five match-ups in all featuring athletes from the same school.
Bureau faces off against North football player Jackson Bardall. Bowns takes on Raiders baseball player Matthew Heard.
Other classmates facing off include West wrestler Jacob Miller and Ashcraft; Lambert football and lacrosse player Justyn Jean-Felix and Longhorns pole vaulter Mason Lord; and South Forsyth girls soccer player Hannah Goudy and War Eagles football player Cameron Kline.
Top seeds get going
Eighteen athletes make their first appearance in THE GRIND Championship after receiving a bye in the first round, including the top four seeds.
Top-seed KK Storms (South) is in an all-girls hoops match-up against Forsyth Central’s Abbey Fagan. Second-seeded Blake Atmore (South) faces North football player Colton Miller. Third-seeded Jeremy Johnson (Lambert) takes on Radake. Fourth-seeded Jacob Miller (West) faces Ashcraft.
From here on out, there are no more free passes.
Others to watch
Two additional match-ups interest me.
First, Forsyth Central football player Shaun Diebel and South Forsyth girls golfer Tiffany Kang. Diebel burst on the scene this past season and is arguably the front-runner for 2015 Offensive Player of the Year. Kang emerged as well, the sophomore helping the Lady War Eagles finish fourth in AAAAAA at the state tournament.
Second, West Forsyth girls soccer player Landen Bowman and North Forsyth girls basketball player Lochlain Corliss. Bowman and Corliss are the closest seeds at Nos. 15 and 18, respectively. Both just recently graduated after impressive high school careers. Bowman signed to play at UAB, while Corliss will play at North Georgia.
Brian Paglia is sports editor of the Forsyth County News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 770-205-8976 or follow him on Twitter at @BrianPaglia.