The Carrollton High School wrestling team hosted its inaugural 'Trojan Wars' on Saturday with several regional and out-of-state programs descending upon the East Carrollton Recreation Center for a full day of action.
Even with his team coming up just short as the overall runner-up, Carrollton head coach Michael Cleek was pleased with how his first major tournament turned out and looks forward to hosting several more in the future.
"As smooth as this tournament ran, it showed us that we can host one of these every year and we definitely will here at Carrollton," Cleek said. "My hat's off to the administration. They've been totally supportive in us running this tournament. Along with them, the parents have been phenomenal. They've helped us set up the entire thing and have been here since Day 1. I can't thank them enough."
The tournament featured 12 teams from Georgia and Alabama being placed in three pools of four, where the final rounds would be determined by how the teams placed in their respective pool.
Carrollton swept its way to the championship match, defeating Marist, Spain Park (Ala.), Calhoun and Northwest Whitfield in the process. Cleek's Trojans would then run into region foe Troup County, which dashed the Trojans' hopes of finishing a perfect 5-0 in the tournament to take home first place.
Cleek considered it a great outing for both his team and the event as a whole.
"We had great competition throughout the day with a lot of top-notch schools," Cleek said. "I'm really pleased with how our guys wrestled. We came up just a little bit short in the last match. Troup's a quality team, but we improved by 35 points from the last time we wrestled them."
Usually in early December, teams like Carrollton find itself getting caught up to speed conditioning-wise with key members of the lineup making the transition from the football gridiron to a wrestling mat.
The second-year head coach was pleased with the hard work his grapplers have put in, particularly a returning junior and a newcomer to the sport.
"Martez Hudson came out ready to go," Cleek said. "He's a heavyweight, so he owned weight coming in and went 5-0 throughout the day. Jeremiah Pierce is a first-year wrestler who we talked into coming in and trying out. I'll tell you, he's an athlete with a motor. He set the tone against Troup and made it a war. He pinned his guy right off the bat and it was on."
Now as Carrollton navigates through a slate of regional tournaments leading up to January, it's all about getting reps. The more reps and time in the gym, the better you'll be prepared for the state's biggest stages.
"Everything's a practice until you get to the area duals and state individual tournament," Cleek said. "All of these tournaments we're competing in are important in getting mat time for our guys so they can get better for the state tournaments."
Story by Nick Simon
Reprinted from Times-Georgian
Photos by Melanie Boyd