The Pickens County Dragons have poured their hearts into wrestling this season, and it’s certainly been one to remember. But – it’s not over, yet.
Just one week after hosting the Burnt Mountain Classic, where the Dragons finished 2nd overall, the team came together to hit the mats with a lot more on the line this time than just ‘braggin’ rights. Gilmer hosted this year’s AAAA-Region 6 area tournament, and the Dragons were one of the team favorites coming into the competition,
In traditional area wrestling, the top four individual competitors in each class qualify to compete at the GHSA AAAA Sectionals meet next weekend at Woodward Academy. On the other side of Sectional competition, Jefferson will host Area winners from areas 2, 3, 7 and 8. Jefferson won the team dual state championship last month, their 17th straight GHSA state dual championship. Gilmer County finished 2nd in that tournament.
With Pickens wrestling in what is arguably the most competitive region in the state, the team faced off against rival Gilmer, as well as quality wrestlers from Ridgeland, Heritage and more. The day turned out to be one of the best in school history, with a record number of sectional qualifiers and three traditional area champions: Zack Meadows, CJ Murphy and Michael Burrell.
Dalton Brunner also had a big day, finishing 2nd in his class.
Other qualifiers for the Dragons include Michael Hernandez (3rd) and Joseph Ferguson (3rd), as well as 4th-place finishers Nate Davis, Jared Edwards, Kelley Dover and Sam Stout.
The overall performance by the Dragons varsity wrestling squad earned them 6AAAA Area Runner-up honors, behind defending champion Gilmer High.
TeamFYNSports would like to wish the Dragons wrestling program all the best as they prepare for sectional competition this week!
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The Burnt Mountain Classic took place on Friday night and Saturday at Pickens Co. High School. The Classic comes with high expectations by the teams attending – and although inclement weather forced school cancellations throughout the week – the tournament still lived up to the bill.
Although the weather was rough all week, 15 of 19 Varsity teams that were scheduled came off the buses ready to strap on their head gear and hit the mat. Fannin County was one of 22 varsity teams scheduled to attend but like a handful of the teams who cancelled, they followed the school cancellation schedule due to potential hazardous road conditions.
The acclaimed Gilmer Bobcats varsity squad, who have been living up to their legacy of absolute domination all season long, was originally scheduled to attend as well. After speaking with head coach Josh Ghobadpor about his decision to give his varsity the weekend off, he stated that with the weather being what it was during the week, they hadn’t been able to practice. Rather than put his varsity in a high-pressure situation so close to area and sectionals, Ghobadpor focused instead on taking his junior varsity team to compete in the JV Scramble.
“We tried to get to the gym to train but with ice on the roads we didn’t want to take any chances. This weekend we decided to bring our JV and let them get the extra work in, though. After all the JV is the future of Bobcat wrestling,” Ghobadpor told TeamFYNSports.
As the wrestlers laced up and shook hands, match-by-match the competition began to heat up right away. Pickens, Lumpkin, Creekview, Etowah, Cherokee High, Calhoun, Alcoa, Milton, Sequoyah, Chestatee, Towns, SE Whitfield, Walker, West Hall and River Ridge all came in pursuit of conquest.
With each win or loss, the cream began to rise to the top. While all in attendance had much to be proud of, two standout teams battled for the heralded prize of tournament champions. As the dust (and sweat) settled, congratulations went to the Creekview High School Grizzlies for capturing the crown in the team scoring with 219 points. Narrowly taking the runner up award in the team points was the host: the Pickens County High School Dragons.
On Saturday, the action heated up with the JV Scramble. The young freshmen and sophomore athletes showed up and showed out on the mats with Calhoun Yellow Jackets taking the JV trophy. Individual award winners from Pickens County included: Zach Meadows(113 lbs) 2nd Place, C.J. Murphy(120 lbs) 2nd Place, Joseph Ferguson(152 lbs) 2nd Place Michael Burrell(160 lbs) 1st Place, Tyler Vreeland(170 lbs), Kellie Dover(182 lbs) 3rd Place and Dalton Bruhner(195 lbs) 4th Place.
Other results were not available at the event. Congratulations to all athletes and best of luck in Area Competition and State!
This past Friday on day two of the Mountaintop Holiday Classic, the Lady Bobcats traveled to take on the Lady Rebels. The Lady Bobcats were coming from a win on day one of the tournament while the Lady Rebels were well rested from the bye game that was scheduled on the first day. Both teams came ready to play and were hungry for another win.
It appeared to be an even matchup from the start. Gilmer had the hustle on defense while Fannin had the determination on offense. The Lady Rebels seemed to score the majority of their points off plays. Lady Rebel, Maleah Stepp, led Fannin in scoring with thirteen points with her will to win. The Lady Bobcats made most of their points from driving the lane and playing in the moment. Lady Bobcat, Mallory Kiser, led her team in scoring with nine points due to her grit. Lady Rebel post, Mackenzie McClure, was on fire with her outside shots which put her right behind Stepp in scoring with ten points. Lady Bobcat guard, Taylor Boling, was behind Kiser in scoring with seven points overall. With the first quarter coming to an end, the Lady Rebels were just one point ahead of the Lady Bobcats with a score of 13-12.
The second quarter was back and forth. Neither team could keep a consistent lead for the eight minutes on the clock. The Lady Rebels started to play scrappy on defense and began rebounding. Lady Rebel, Bailey Whitener, got aggressive down low and contributed three points for her team. Another Lady Rebel, Maddie Johnson, got after it and scored five points after getting steals on defense. Gilmer started looking up the court to find Lady Bobcat, Marylee Callihan, who also put five points on the board for her team. Number twenty-four for the Lady Bobcats, Emma Callihan, put her all into the game and contributed four points for Gilmer. With Fannin in the lead halfway through the quarter, Lady cat Michaela Staley drew a foul and made two of her foul shots. Staley’s two points tied up the game. Gilmer continued to score and further their lead until the end of the second quarter. It was the Lady Rebels ball as the clock was winding down and Reagan Henderson happened to be wide open. Henderson received a beautiful pass down low which resulted in her making a buzzer beater shot and contributing two of her overall three points to tie the game 23-23.
With both teams having the same chances of winning, Fannin found their spunk. The Lady Rebels started to draw fouls from driving the lane. Lady Rebel, Hope Franklin, drew two fouls from the block and contributed two of her four points from the foul line. However, Fannin was not the only team to draw fouls. Lady Bobcat, Katie Kiker, drew a foul and put one point on the board for Gilmer. As Fannin’s lead extended, Gilmer came alive on the block. Lady Bobcat, Faith Ralston, scored two of her three points from down low. Another post for Gilmer, Jasmine Staley, contributed two points for the Lady Bobcats from under the basket. Gilmer’s lead strayed farther from Fannin’s which resulted in the score being 31-25 at the end of the third quarter.
With Gilmer down by only six points, they were determined to make a come back. Both teams wanted to win and it showed through their hustle and intensity. With Gilmer trying their best to catch up to Fannin, the Lady Rebels tried just as hard to keep their lead. Although both teams had the heart to win the game, one had to lose. The Lady Bobcats played an amazing game, but were five points away from victory. The Lady Rebels 38-33 win over the Lady Bobcats put Fannin in the championship game to be played the next day against the Lady Dragons.
The Lady Rebels win puts their overall record at 7-6 while the Lady Bobcats record also stands at 7-6. Catch the Lady Rebels next region game at Fannin County High School on January 5 against GAC starting at 7:00! Or catch the Lady Bobcats next region game on the same day and at the same time as they travel to take on Northwest Whitfield!