Dougherty’s two region champs — Christopher Rapley, left, and Kavasae Trappier — work on their moves during the Trojans’ final practice Thursday in preparation for today’s all-important sectionals in Atlanta. Rapley won the 152-pound class, while Trappier was the region’s 138-pound champ as Dougherty — which has just five guys on its entire team — qualified all five. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY --- There’s good. There’s great. And then there’s perfect.
That’s life in the wrestling program at Dougherty High, where the Trojans give a whole new meaning to the cliché about getting the most out of what you’ve got.
Simply put, Dougherty was perfect, going 5-for-5. That’s the magic number, because the Trojans had only five wrestlers on the team this season, and all five qualified for the two-day Class AAA sectional tournament in Atlanta that begins today at Riverwood High School.
“We didn’t have many, but everyone qualified for the sectionals,’’ said Dougherty coach Kareem Sanders, who was short-handed because three of his returning wrestlers had shoulder surgery after football season, and two more left the program because of family reasons. “But it was a good year, because everyone is going to sectionals. And we have two region champs.’’
Christopher Rapley (152 pounds) and Kavasae Trappier (138) both had redemption seasons to win Region 1-AAA titles, and both are hungry for more.
Rapley finished third in the region last year as a sophomore and left the mat angry and confused after a questionable call kept him from continuing his quarterfinal match.
“I was really mad when I lost last year,’’ said Rapley on Thursday as he prepared for the sectionals. “It was a bad call. I was on an injury timeout, and the referee was supposed to tell me how much time I had (to get back on the mat). But he was quiet and didn’t say anything. Then he disqualified me.’’
The gaffe ignited him.
“After that happened last year, I focused this year and trained harder and got committed,” Rapley said.
It paid off. Rapley is 20-2 with 18 pins and sees himself as a contender at the state meet next weekend. The top eight wrestlers in the sectionals advance to the state meet, and Ragley plans on being there.
Trappier, a senior, feels the same way. He lost in the Region 1-AAA final last year to finish second and came back with a rock-solid mindset. He has a 15-3 record, including the region title, and 13 of his 15 wins were by pins.
“He’s a powerhouse,’’ Rapley said of Trappier, who gained weight and moved up from wrestling at 125 pounds a year ago to the 138-pound weight class. He feels stronger and it shows.
“I really feel stronger and a little faster,’’ Trappier said. “Losing (the region final) last year made me want to work harder this year. I never cheat myself at practice. I do everything I need to do, and then stay afterward. And a lot of days I run extra on the track after I’m finished with wrestling practice.’’
Rapley had the same dive-head-first work ethic, and spent extra time working out with the Darton College wrestling club to get better.
“I got my technique from the Darton wrestling club and coach Mike Miller. That really has helped me,’’ said Rapley, who works at Darton three days a week. He also spent time last summer working out with the Lee County wrestling team.
“Both of them came back this year and worked hard to rebound and win the region title,’’ Sanders said. “It shows what hard work can do.’’
Rapley and Trappier both have hopes of reaching the state tournament — and more.
“I want more,’’ Rapley said. “I want to win sectionals and to win state.’’
Trappier, a senior, knows it’s his last chance this weekend to reach the state tournament.
“It’s right there,’’ he said, pointing a finger. “It would mean everything to me to get to state.’’
Dougherty’s success story doesn’t end there, however.
It includes three young wrestlers who showed up on the team this year and will show up in the sectionals today. Deon Randolph, a sophomore, finished fourth in the 182-pound class to qualify for the sectionals, and two freshmen, Christopher Hudson (220) and Christopher Bryant (285), both took fourth in the region in their first season on the mat for Dougherty.
LOAD UP THE BUS AT LEE COUNTY: They don’t keep team scores in the wrestling sectionals, so it’s anyone’s guess just how many points Lee County’s Trojans could score this weekend at Northside, Columbus, where they will compete in the Class AAAA state sectionals.
It will be a crowded ride to Columbus, where Lee County is sending wrestlers in 12 of the 14 weight classes to the two-day tournament that begins today.
And it’s not just quantity. Lee is sending five Region 1-AAAA champs to Columbus, and coach Tom Matheny believes any — or all 12 of his kids — have a chance to get to the Class AAAA state tournament next weekend in Atlanta.
“It’s like Nick Saban said before Alabama won (the BCS title game). He said, ‘If we stay focused and play, or wrestle, up to our capability we will be fine,’ ” Matheny said.
Lee County has been more than fine in the region since Matheny took over last year. A year ago the Trojans ran away with the Region 1-AAAA title, winning by 60 points. This year’s team is even better. Lee County destroyed the field, beating second-place Northside, Warner Robins by 89 1/2 points — racking up 219 points.
“That’s the way we roll,’’ said 126-pound champ Britt Beshear, who won his fourth region title and heads to the sectionals with a 37-9 record.
Lee County is led by Rashaud Anthony, who won the 113-pound title last week and is 50-4 this season. He’s a four-time region champ with his sights set on winning a state title that got away last year.
But he’s only part of the Lee County story. Devon Yelverton, a junior, is 48-5 and the region 145-pound champ, and Alex Davis, a 132-pound junior who just won his second region title, is 42-15. Freshman Austin Braswell took home the 106-pound title.
Freshman Brett Butler (120), junior Colton Grove (195) and senior Mantony Harris (152) all took home second in the region, and sophomores Kyler Morgan (138) and Darryl Jackson (182) took third along with junior Ian Grimsley (170) and freshman Marvin Phillips (220).
Matheny would love to get all 12 to state, but that’s a tall order for any team. Still, you have to look at five or six Trojans as definite state contenders this weekend, starting with the five region champs and including Grove and Harris, who has been nursing a back injury.
“They have the experience to do it if they don’t run into Ray Lewis (who was a monster two-time state wrestling champion in high school),’’ joked Matheny with a smile, before adding, “We need the brackets to fall our way.
“We need to get five to state, and Mantony could get there, too, but he’s battling a back problem,’’ he added. “We took 10 to sectionals last year and got three to state.’’
Lee’s Zach Thompson won the state title and was The Herald’s Player of the Year in wrestling last season. Lee could produce another one if Anthony wins a coveted state title. But starting today, it’s all about getting to state, and Lee takes a dirty dozen to Columbus with that goal in mind.
“We should all get there,’’ Anthony said. Then Beshear jumped in and added that Lee was out to prove a point.
“Everyone thinks we have a weak region,’’ he said. “We have to show everybody that our winning the region was not a fluke. We have to prove it to people who say we have an easy region.’’
ALBANY HIGH IS SOARING: They had a memorable football season and are in the middle of an incredible boys basketball season as The Herald’s No. 1 and the state’s No. 5-ranked team. The Squaws are in good shape to win the basketball region title, and everything seems on the rise at Albany High.
You can add the wrestling program to that list.
The Indians are sending eight wrestlers to the Class AA sectionals at Blessed Trinity High School in Roswell today, and that’s the most since anyone can remember.
“I don’t know how long it has been,’’ wrestling coach Michael Moore said. “But I know it’s been a long time. Everyone keeps telling me that. I have been coaching wrestling three years, and this is the first time we have had a full team in a while.’’
Albany had wrestlers compete in all 14 weight classes this season, including Kayla O’Neal, a young lady who wrestled in the 195-pound class. She didn’t make it to the sectionals, but she did make a little history for Albany High.
Moore said he hopes to keep wrestling on the rise and send some of his kids to the state tournament next weekend. The top eight advance to state from the sectionals.
Shaquille Morman, the only senior in the group, finished second in the Area 1-AA meet last week to get to the sectionals, and Darius Phillips (120) and Brian Sawchyn (152) were third in the area meet.
Freshman Dreshawn Foster (120), junior Jamil Zachary (138), and sophomores Shaquil Jones (145), Justin Crutchfield (160) and Jeffrey Wallace (285) all finished fourth last week to qualify for the sectionals.
“I think Morman, Sawchyn and Jones have an excellent chance to get to state,’’ Moore said.
MONROE SENDS SIX TO SECTIONALS: Monroe High will have six wrestlers n the Class AAA sectionals today, including 138-pounder Derrick Bernard, who is 20-2 and coming off a second-place finish in the Region 1-AAA meet. Freshman Taye Glanton (220) also finished second, and Monroe had juniors Jamil Upshaw (160), and Sedrick Jones (152) and senior Josh Carter (285) take home thirds last week. Freshman Cornelius Jenkins finished fourth at 132.
“I’m hoping to get Bernard, Jones and maybe Carter to state,’’ Monroe coach Clifford Wooden said. “Those three have the best chance.’’
WESTOVER’S YOUTH MOVEMENT: The Patriots have had some dominant wrestling teams in recent years and will send eight to the Class AAA sectionals — but only two seniors.
Senior Lance Drummer (145) finished third in the Region 1-AAA meet to qualify for the sectionals and senior Antoine Hill (152) was fourth. Sophomores Rondell Williams (113) and Aaron David (126) and freshman Cody Hughes (106) took thirds last week. Junior Evan Drew (132), sophomore Todd Dresthel (195) and freshman Anthony Morgan (170) took home fourths to earn the trip to Columbus.
“They are extremely young and inexperienced,’’ Westover coach Kevin Fretwell said. “The only thing I want them to do is make weight and fight hard and leave everything on the mat. We’re a very, very young team.’’