Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 4, 2014

Southland wrestling dominates region meet for eighth straight title

CHULA — The Southland Academy wrestling program has long been known as one of the most dominant forces in the state. On Saturday at Tiftarea Academy, the 2013-14 wrestling team did nothing but improve an already stellar legacy by dominating the seven team GISA Region 4 Wrestling Meet to claim their remarkable eighth straight region title.

One of the biggest accomplishments for Head Coach Mike Smith’s Raider squad was the ability to qualify 100 percent of their region participants for the GISA State Meet this weekend. To qualify for the state meet, a wrestler must finish inside of the top four at their region meet, and all 13 of Southland’s wrestlers accomplished that task on Saturday.

Southland’s assertive run to the overall team Region 4 Championship was fueled by five wrestlers who navigated their brackets unscathed to claim individual region titles.  Over the course of the season, these five Raiders have compiled a 78-5 overall record, including 59 pins against their various opponents.

The lightest weight class champion for the Raiders was Ryan Landreth who cruised to his fourth straight individual region title on Saturday. The 138 pound weight class champion is now 14-1 on the season with 10 pins, and he will take a huge head of steam into the weekend as he seeks his second individual GISA State Title.

The next region champion came for Southland came in the 182 pound weight class where Colt Stephens made quick work of his opponents to earn his third region title. Currently, Stephens is 18-1 overall, and the junior standout has pinned an unheard-of 83 percent of his unfortunate opponents this year.

Another pin master for the Raiders is junior 195 pound weight class standout Cauldin Smith. Smith, who is now 20-1 for the season, also had little trouble as he too took his fourth consecutive region championship. Of Smith’s 20 wins, 16 have come by-way of a pin.

A two winter-sport star for Southland was the next region champion for the Raiders. Although Clay Copeland was not able to wrestle at the region meet due to the state championship swim meet in Atlanta, his two regular season region victories over his would-be opponent (who also could not participate in the region meet), allowed him to claim the region wrestling title for the 220 pound weight class. Overall, Copeland is 10-1 this season with six pins to his credit.

One of the most consistent wrestlers for the Raiders this year, Lance Harrod, continued a strong senior season by claiming his third individual region wrestling title on Saturday as well. Harrod’s victory in the 285 pound championship match gave the Raiders their fifth and final region champion for 2013-14. So far this year, Harrod has pinned 70.5 percent (12 of 17) of his opponents en route to a 16-1 overall record.

The Raiders also boasted four wrestlers who narrowly missed out on individual region titles to finish as Region 4 runner-ups. Brent Allegood (113 lb.), Billy Calcutt (120 lb.), Hood Souter (160 lb.), and Drew Brown (170 lb.) were all able to qualify for the GISA State Tournament this weekend and take home silver medals from the Region 4 Tournament with strong performances.

Tanner Rundle (106 lb.) and Brandon Revell (152 lb.) also qualified for the state meet with third place finishes at region, and Jeremy Ledger (126 lb.) and Morgan Youngdale (145 lb.) will also go to the state tournament after finishing fourth in their respective weight classes.

“We wrestled really well like I expected us to,” said Smith, who knows a thing or two about good wrestling. “It was a good day for us and the kids wrestled really hard. By placing nine kids first or second allows us to have a good start this weekend (at the state championship meet).”

By taking their eighth region title in a row since 2006, Smith’s Raiders will head to Macon’s Tattnall Square Academy with a lot of momentum as they pursue a state title. The Raiders will compete for the state championship on Friday evening and Saturday, and with an experienced-laden squad they stand a good chance of bringing home the big trophy.

Smith is assisted by coaches Brett Collier and Nick McGehee.

 

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