Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia

Local Sports

February 2, 2013

Southland wrestling uses seven individual champions to claim Region 4 Title

ALBANY — On Monday evening the Southland Academy Raider wrestling team joined Crisp Academy, Deerfield-Windsor, Southwest Georgia Academy, Tiftarea, Valwood and Westwood in Albany to compete for the GISA Region 4 wrestling title. The Raiders, winners of four consecutive region championships, were looking to keep up their phenomenal run by collecting their fifth-straight, and seventh of the last nine, region championships. Just as they have done in the past four years, the Raiders completely overwhelmed all of their region opponents as they stormed to their fifth-straight region title behind seven individual region champions.

After losing only one senior from last year’s team the Raiders were heavily favored to defend their region title going into the tournament. Not only did Southland accomplish that task, but they completely dominated the tournament with seven individual region champions and 11 placers in the region finale.

Five sophomores brought home region titles for the Raiders, starting with Corey Doggett claiming first place in the 113 pound weight class. Defending GISA State Champion Ryan Landreth also brought home a region championship in the 126 pound weight class. Colt Stephens brought home a first place medal in the 152 pound weight class, and fellow sophomores Hood Souter and Cauldin Smith won the 160 and 182 pound weight classes, respectively.

Junior Lance Harrod also became a region champion with his win in the final match of the 285 pound class. Lone Raider senior Andrew Alexander made sure that he went out of his career on top, claiming the 220 pound weight class title.

Junior Joel Snider narrowly missed becoming the Raiders eight individual Region 4 champion, coming up just short in the championship match of the 195 pound class but still taking home a second place medal.

As if Southland’s future wasn’t already bright enough, two more very young underclassmen placed third in the Region 4 Tournament. Freshman Brandon Revell and eighth grader Stephen Turton finished the tournament with bronze medals in the 132 and 138 pound weight classes, respectively. Sophomore William Grinnell rounded out the Raiders placers with a fourth place finish in the 145 pound weight class.

The dominating region performance also gives the Raiders a full head of steam as they prepare for the GISA State Tournament on February 8 and 9 at Tattnall Square Academy, according to Raider head coach Mike Smith. “I was real pleased with our team. We started out a little slow before Christmas, but we have picked up some momentum now,” he said. “I hope we are peaking at the right time and that we can keep this going into state.”

Smith has headed the Raiders program since their inaugural season in 2001. Since that time Southland has won an incredible seven region titles and compiled a stunning 196-25 duals record. Last year the Raiders finished fourth in the state tournament, and this season Smith hopes his team can take another step towards the GISA Team State Title. “We were very optimistic this year if we could make the weights and avoid injury. We finished fourth last year, so our goal at the beginning of the year was to finish third or better in the State Meet, and I think we have a really good shot to do that,” said Smith.

With such a young team the Raider wrestling program future looks bright, but right now the Raiders are only focused on the present. With another region title under their belt they will now make a run at the state title with a huge wave of momentum carrying them to Macon in just four short days.

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