Tift wrestling heads to region tournament

Caleb Barber (right) makes a Colquitt wrestler’s world topsy-turvy in a match at the team duals in January. Barber will compete for Tift Saturday in the 106-pound division.

TIFTON — The regular wrestling season is over at Tift County High School. Now it’s crunch time.

Shawn Watson’s mat squad goes to Camden County Saturday for the traditional region tournament.

The top four wrestlers qualify for the area meet, which means that with four teams in the region, the Blue Devils should be in good shape, just as long as they make weight. Unfortunately, two weight classes are open at the moment. “We’re going to be missing ’13 and ’20,” said Watson, referring to the 113- and 120-pound division. Watson possibly could move someone to the 120-pound division.

Though filled, the Blue Devils will be hurting in another weight class. Alex Fulford is out after knee surgery. “He had a great season,” Watson said. Fulford wore a brace during the season, but further injured the knee at the region duals Jan. 11. Fulford came back and won a crucial match, but couldn’t make it through one more later that afternoon.

Qualifying wrestlers will go to sectionals, which will be at Perry next week. Perry will likely see one more wrestler in action: Madison Cox. Cox travels with the team to Camden, but her big test will be at area. She can become Tift’s first female wrestler to make state if, said Watson, she finishes in the top two of her weight class.

Tift’s teams split up last weekend, some going to Toombs County, others venturing to Cairo. At the former, they finished fifth. Gerald Coney won at 195 pounds. Keyshawn Jones was second at heavyweight, Quay Goldsborough and Timothy Wright were third in their divisions and Caleb Barber was fourth.

One school in particular was a big stumbling block. “We lost to some tough kids out of Veterans,” said Watson. Ten wrestlers went to Lyons and five placed.

At Cairo, Garrett Sumner took second place, as did Zach Carter. Taquan Ellis and Andrew Taylor each had a third place finish.

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