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HERALD WRESTLER OF THE YEAR: Trojans’ Grove wraps up wrestling career in style

Lee County senior Colton Grove, on top, is The Herald’s Player of the Year in wrestling after finishing third in the state meet this season.

Lee County senior Colton Grove, on top, is The Herald’s Player of the Year in wrestling after finishing third in the state meet this season.

LEESBURG — The opponents were bigger, but Colton Grove really didn’t care.

After all, he was thinking it might be his last year to wrestle, and after spending most of his life on the mat, he just wanted to walk off it a winner.

He won his final match of his high school career to finish third in the Class AAAAA state meet and walked away leaving more than a stellar career behind.

Grove, who weighs 197 pounds, wrestled at 220, giving up more than 20 pounds to his opponents, but he never gave up on himself and gave to others along the way.

Those are just some of the reasons Grove, a senior at Lee County, was a clear choice as The Herald’s Player of the Year in wrestling.

He still isn’t sure if he will wrestle in college. He has had offers from Darton State, Shorter and Mercer.

“I don’t know if I will wrestle in college,’’ said Grove, who has a 3.6 GPA and plans on going into the medical field. “I went into this season knowing that after it was done that I might not wrestle again and I wanted to do everything I could.’’

He has been on the mat since he was 5 years old — literally.

Grove’s father, who wrestled in high school in Ohio and then wrestled at the University of Miami in Ohio, ran his own youth wrestling program in Leesburg, and Colton wrestled competitively at the age of 5 years old.

“He was brought up in a wrestling environment and by the time he came to us as a freshman he knew what he was doing,’’ Lee County wrestling coach Tom Matheny said. “That’s unusual for us. He was a very good wrestler as a freshman. I thought he had a lot of potential as a freshman.’’

Grove won 31 matches as a freshman and then had to sit out his sophomore year after tearing his ACL. He came back the following year and was the region runner-up to the wrestler who ended up finishing fifth in the state. Grove advanced to the state tournament and went 55-12 as a junior at 195 pounds.

He could have stayed at 195 but stepped up to the next weight class as a senior and used his quickness to make up for the difference in size. He won the Region 1-AAAAA title and finished second in the sectionals and third at state to wrap up a brilliant career in which he won 126 matches and had 65 pins in three years.

“We were pretty blessed to have him,’’ Matheny said. “Colton is an outstanding guy. He works hard. He would stay after practice and work on his own in the weight room. He’s just a super nice kid. I’m telling you, he’s got a lot of character. He’s a quiet, unassuming type of guy. He’s a quality person, and we were glad to have him.’’

Grove not only succeeded on the mat but he became a mentor to the younger wrestlers.

“He was instrumental in developing our younger kids,’’ Matheny said. “He really took Collins Tinsley under his wing.’’

Tinsley, a freshman, won the Region 1-AAAAA 195-pound title and finished fifth in the sectionals to advance to the state meet.

Grove the teacher was also Grove the demonstrator. He had a season to remember.

“I was pretty happy with my season,’’ Grove said. “I had a lot more confidence this year. I think it’s just because of all the mat time. I worked hard knowing it was my last season. Even the people I lost to at state beat me by just one point. It was a real good year.’’


2012-13 Herald All-Area Wrestling Team

Player of the Year Runner-up

Charleston McKenzie, Crisp County, Senior, 285

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAA title, finished second in the sectionals and took home fourth place in the Class AAAA state meet. He finished the season with a 30-6 record.

ALL-AREA WRESTLING TEAM

Kyle Gill, Deerfield-Windsor, Junior, 106

Why he’s here: He won the region title and was the state runner-up in the GISA state wrestling tournament. He went 15-2 with 14 pins and was 14-1 at 106 pounds, losing only in the state finals.

Rondell Williams, Westover, Junior, 120

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAA title and finished the season with a 21-12 record.

Lamar Wynn, Lee County, Sophomore, 126

Why he’s here: He was injured most of the season and an injury prevented him from wrestling in the state meet, but he finished second in the Region 1-AAAAA meet and was fifth in the sectionals to advance to the Class AAAA state meet. He finished with a 13-6 record.

Ryan Landreth, Southland, Sophomore, 126

Why he’s here: He won the region title and finished second in the GISA state wrestling meet and had a 22-5 record.

Alex Davis, Lee County, Senior, 132

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAAA title, finished second in the sectionals and advanced to the state tournament, finishing with a 44-13 record with 19 pins.

Devon Yelverton, Lee County, Senior, 138

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAAA title, finished third in the sectionals and advanced to the state tournament, finishing with a 36-10 record with 19 pins.

Chandler Lane, Deerfield-Windsor, Senior, 138

Why he’s here: He was the state runner-up, losing in the final seconds to the only wrestler to beat him all season. He went 11-4 with 11 pins, losing all four matches to the eventual state champ.

Austin Cave, Westover, Freshman, 140

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAA title and finished the season with a 17-9 record.

Kyle Morgan, Lee County, Junior, 145

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAAA title, took fifth at the sectionals to advance to the state meet, finishing with a 18-18 record.

Chris Rapley, Lee County, Senior, 152

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAAA title, took fifth in the sectionals to advance to the state meet and was 36-18 for the season.

Brandon Silverburg, Westover, Freshman, 152

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAA title and finished with an 18-10 record.

Colt Stephens, Southland, Sophomore, 152

Why he’s here: He won the region title and finished second in the GISA state meet and finished with a 22-5 record.

Alex Pollock, Crisp County, Junior, 160

Why he’s here: He finished second in the Region 1-AAAA meet, and had an impressive 38-18 record.

Nathan Green, Deerfield-Windsor, Senior, 171

g Why he’s here: He finished third in the GISA state meet and went 13-4 with seven pins.

Dillian Richter, Crisp County, Senior, 182

Why he’s here: He ended a stellar career at Crisp County, where he was fourth in the state as a junior. He won his second consecutive region title and was fifth in the sectionals, advancing to the state tournament for the second straight year. He finished with a 50-13 record.

Collins Tensley, Lee County, Freshman, 182

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAAA title and finished fifth in the sectionals to advance to the state meet. He had 24-13 record.

Cauldin Smith, Southland, Sophomore, 182

Why he’s here: He won the region title and was the state runner-up in the GISA state meet, finishing with a 26-3 record.

George Harvey, Crisp County, Sophomore, 195

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAA title and took ninth in the sectionals, finishing with a 15-8 record.

Kaun Daniel, Crisp County, Sophomore, 220

Why he’s here: He won the Region 1-AAAA title and finished the season with a remarkable 52-8 record.

Andrew Alexander, Southland, Senior, 220

Why he’s here: He won the region title and was the state runner-up in the GISA state meet. He finished with a 26-3 record.

Lance Harrod, Southland, Junior, 285

Why he’s here: He won the region title and was the state runner-up in the GISA state meet, finishing with a 22-6 record.