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Forsyth, Georgia
December 12, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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December 12, 2018

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December 12, 2018 Page 7C RepOrter By Richard Dumas In its fourth year of existence, the Mary Persons wrestling program could be in the midst of a transition year in 2018-19 after the graduation of some of its inaugural team members. Third-year MP head coach Barron Hamlin said the Bulldogs, who lost nearly a dozen seniors to graduation, has only a handful of returners this season. But Hamlin said youth is not a bad thing because a promising 10-member freshman class could lead to big things for MP in the future. Hamlin said of his freshmen contingent: "It's new competition for them on varsity, but it's going to serve us well next year. The kids will be able to get some mat time and will continue to grow as wrestlers and show some results" Without question, MP's top returner is senior Brycen Young, who has competed in the individ- ual state competition in each of the past two years. Young is one of just two current MP wrestlers, along with fellow senior Covi Zellner, who were on the Mat Dogs' first-ever team in 2015-16. "Brycen is my Top Dawg right now" Hamlin said. "He has to step into a bigger leadership role this year" Hamlin said he expects Young, who finished last season with a 42-11 record in the 152-pound division, once again to be among the top wrestlers in the state in his weight class. "He is the only person that will stop himseW,' Hamlin said of Young. "I think he's got all the tools. He's one of the best ones I've coached" The squad's other two seniors are Zellner, who will compete in the 220-pound class, and wres- fling newcomer Austin Mock, an MP baseball standout who will wrestle in the 160-pound class. Hamlin said of his seniors: "Covi's finally getting his chance to come out and step out on the mat and see what he's got. And Austin Mock, he's a new guy. He's a baseball guy. He's a good athlete, takes coaching real well. Austin has stepped out and really surprised us" Junior team members include a pair of returners: Keller Smith (138 pounds) and Travis Webb (195 pounds) while varsity sophomores include: Tyler Nor- sworthy, Dante Olivieri, Noah Thompson and Peyton Ward. Joining the nine upperclassmen are 10 freshmen, most of whom were on the Monroe County Middle School squad a year ago, including the team's lone girl, Cassidy Holland. Hamlin said he anticipates his varsity team will be even larger in the coming years thanks to the sport's growing popularity at the middle school level. "We've doubled in size for the middle school program from last year, which is great because it only helps to feed into us for the high school" HamlJn said. ' nd having so many freshmen, those were the freshmen from eighth grade last year. They've just filtered in. It's going to take some time to catch back up, but I think the success that we're going to have is start- ing early at the middle school level." Hamlin said he credits new c-team MP Varsity Wrestling Schedule DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME Dec. 12 Upson-Lee Home 5 p.m. Dec. 14 John Smith Mountaineer (JV Only) Away 5 p.m. Dec. 20 East Hall Christmas Away 10 a.m. Dec. 29 Harlem Bulldog Bash Away ]0 a.m. Jan. 3 Monticello/Perry Home 5 p.m. Jan. 8 Walnut Grove Away 5 p.m. Jan. 11-12 Area Duals @ Perry Away TBD Jan. 22 Monticello Away 5 p.m. Jan. 23 Jackson/Rutland Home 5 p.m. Jan. 25-26 Burnt Mountain Classic Away 5 p.m. Feb. 1-2 Area Traditionals @ Perry Away TBD Feb. 8-9 State Sect. Traditionals @ WL Away TBD Feb. 13-16 State Traditionals @ MaconAway TBD coach Douglas Fletcher with the expanding interest in the program. "Coach Fletcher is a special ed teacher at the middle school, and he's piv- otal;' Hamlin C-Team Wrestling Schedule DATE OPPONENT LOCATION TIME Dec. 12 Upson-Lee Middle Home 5 p.m. Dec. 19 Jasper County Middle Away .5 p.m. Jan. 3 Jasper County Middle Home 5 p.m. Jan. 8 Walnut Grove Middle Away 5 p.m. Jan. 23 Henderson Middle Home 5 p.m. Jan. 25 Area Tournament Away 5 p.m. said. "He's my go-getter. He season has ended, he hopes that Hamlin said despite having such gets those kids involved at the several MP gridiron players join a young team in 2018-19, he's still middle school level. The reason the wrestling squad and fill in the targeting a move into third place we have a big group this year is few weight gaps the squad pres- this year. because he went out and did a ently possesses. For MP to com- "I think we can compete with little 'recruiting; and it showed, pete with the top squads in its Upson-Lee this year" Hamlin He'S my guy. He's helped me while area, including perennial powers said. "We lost last night (Nov. 27), I'm still doing football. He's come West Laurens and Perry, the Mat but we had some weight dasses in and basically nm practice for Dogs can't afford to forfeit weight forfeited. The ones that we did me and been a big help to getting classes. While MP placed fourth win, I think we're gonna have, us started" in its area in 2017-18, narrowly and the ones that we lost, we're Hamlin said now that football behind third-place Upson-Lee, gonna get better" MONROE COUNTY MIDDLE SCHOOL 2018- 19 WRESTLING TEAM: Pictured on the front row from left to right: Amorion Johnson and J. T. Hollifield. Pictured on the middle row from left to right: D.J. Guice, Jacobi Jones, Landon White, Colby Hubbard, Braydan Funck, Tanner Law- rence, Colin Welsh and Ea- son Farmer. Pictured on the back row from left to right: Konner Clark, Ja'Quez Ow- ens, Derrick Parker, Amelia Jones, Coach James Shan- non, Lucas Wells, Coach Douglas Fletcher, Van Tane, Ava Hill, Cheyenne Ward and Malaki Knight. Not pictured: Rachel Henderson, Emily Oden, Leighton Judd and Thomas McCollum. LADY DOGS Continued from Front terms of football. You're not leaving the court.' I'm just trying to get them to under- stand that you can't take plays off, you can't take seconds off, because the bali's gonna keep bouncing. And they don't understand that because they haven't played enough basketball:' McElhaney will rely heav- ily in 2018-19 on a trio of seniors, center Anna Hight- ower, center Auyonis Avery and shooting guard JaDasha Owens. Hightower is perhaps the squad's most reliable de- fender, top screener and most experienced player, Avery is the team's biggest post pres- ence and perhaps its most capable rim protector, and Owens is one of the team's best shooters. The Lady Dogs will also feature six juniors, led by third-year starting point guard Taylor Buffmgton per- haps the team's most danger- ous long-range shooter and its most consistent ball-handler. Other juniors who will receive playing time include: forward Kate Wilson, wing Khada- jah Bradley, shooting guard Precious Gaines, forward Rebekah Brown and wing Tysheeka Hart. McElhaney said Bradley and Wilson are two of his top hustlers, always willing to do the dirty work like taking charges or diving on the floor. Two sophomores, guards J'Mya Mann and Victoria Vining, and one freshman, forward Tatiyanna Brown, will also be counted on for big minutes. Mann, a first-year starter, might be the team's most gifted all-around player. "Mann is actually a basket- ball player" McElhaney said. "She sees things. She might be the best ball-handler we have. You can tell she's been playing a long time. But she doesn't work hard enough. She'll take plays off. I track loafs, and she's the leader in loafs. I get on her about it all the time. The game ain't gonna stop because you're tired" MP'S only real chance to win in the early season came last month when the Lady Dogs dropped a 34-32 contest against FPD in Stratford's season-opening tournament. Bufflngton came up just short on a game-winning three- point try, hitting the front iron on a shot that was several inches from being perfect. McElhaney said currently MP is just focusing on getting its first win before it re-sets its pre-season goals. "You always want to be bet- ter than your last (season)" McElhaney said. "We've got to get one first before we get to four, which is more than last year. We still have a chance to do something, but we've got to fix a lot of mistakes" McElhaney said he's trying not to harp on errors in what is thus far a winless campaign, but instead choosing to focus on what his girls are doing well to keep the team's morale from being sunk. "I have to have reasonable expectations for what's about to happen. And I do" McE1- harley said. "I don't expect for us to win 20 games, but I do expect us to play hard and try to get better each and every day in practice or games. I can't just hound on the things we did wrong. I have to find some of the good things because they're going to continue to hear bad, bad, bad from everybody else. So you don't want them to get accustomed to that. You don't want them to get used to that because they'll start believing and accepting that. They'll start thinking, 'We're sorry. We'll just lay down: You don't want them to get into that mentality." e signs Georgia A Stratford Academy senior with Monroe County roots signed a letter of intent to play golf on scholarship for Georgia State on Nov. 14. Will Chambless is the son of Mark Chambless of Culloden and Linda Chamb- less, and the grandson of Roger Chambless and the late Ann Chambless of Forsyth. Chambless thanked his friends, family, teachers and coach Cater Pierce for their help in developing his game. (Photo/Terry Sowell)