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December 2, 2013

Tift County wrestlers to be in Fitzgerald Thursday

TIFTON — Wrestling season has arrived again for the Tift County Blue Devils, though fans have had to travel to see Shawn Watson's team in action. They have been to McDonough and Lawrenceville. Thursday will be the first close chance to see the team in action, as they travel to Fitzgerald to face both their hosts and Turner County Thursday.

"It's been a rough road so far," Watson said. His team is 2-8. At Ola in Henry County last Tuesday, they went 1-4. Saturday, at Lawrenceville for the Takedown Sportswear Duals, hosted by Archer High, they again went 1-4. The win came against Mill Creek the coach was not disappointed.

"It was a good measuring stick for the kids," he said. "They got to see a lot of great wrestlers." The losses were against Archer, Greater Atlanta Christian and Bradley Central of Tennessee. He rated Archer as one of the state's best programs and said Bradley was quite strong as well.

This will be another busy week for them. They have not just the meet Thursday, but another big road trip this weekend, traveling to Columbia, Fla., for the Tiger Invitational. "Hopefully, we'll come home better than 1-4," he said.

Thursday's meet also has some extra interest, as it will be a combined middle school, junior varsity and varsity event. Watson said he was excited about this opportunity and hoped that it would build extra team spirit.

He is working with about 54 wrestlers this year. He has determined starters, but "others are definitely battling in the wings."

Seniors this year are Clay Berry, who has been competing at 152 and 160 pounds., Sam Dunn, who has been at 220 pounds. and whom he hopes gets down to 195, Devin Lewis (160), Nick McCall (113), Tommy McDonald, who will be wrestling at 182, Jimmy Scarborough (152 or 145) and Gunnar Schemmel (170). Jesse Snow is also on the roster, but has not been in action yet as he is working his weight down to 285. Watson hopes to have him Dec. 17 for the meet at Ocilla.

He has only one junior starter on his roster, Jerry Rodriguez. He competes at 145 pounds.

Sophomore starters include Quen Campbell (126), Cole Dillard (132), Keanu Moore (120), Rayder Schemmel (160), Bailey Sellars (heavyweight), Tal Vickers (138) and Ryan Tucker. Tucker is 220 pounds, but has been wrestling heavyweights just to get an opportunity on the mat.

Four freshmen have cracked his lineup. Dalton Burks (145), Charlie Powell (182 and 195 classes), Jake Pratt (120) and Mack Strickland (138).

The first real home meet will be Jan. 7 against Coffee. On Jan. 14, they host Turner County. The annual Blue Devil Invitational will be Jan. 18.

 

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