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Southland Academy Raider wrestlers win eighth straight region title

AMERICUS – The Southland Academy varsity wrestling team won its eighth straight Region 3-AAA title Thursday night, January 24, at Southland Academy (SA).

The Raiders scored a team total of 92 points. Valwood finished in second place with 50 points, followed by third-place finisher Deerfield-Windsor with 36 points. The Raiders have now won eight straight region titles in varsity wrestling.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome. We put ourselves in a good seed for the state tournament next week,” Southland head coach Mike Smith said. “It always comes out to where first place gets the better bracket than fourth. Anytime we can finish in first or second, we’re very pleased. I think this gave us an edge going into next week.”

SA senior wrestler Ragan Norman with his first-place medal after winning the individual region championship in the 285-lb. weight class.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Eight Raiders finished in first place individually. In the 170-lb. weight class, junior Tyler Kennedy finished in the winner’s circle, as did freshman Landon Griffin in the 126-lb. weight class.

Sophomore Coleman Fort won the individual region title in the 138-lb. weight class.

SA senior wrestler Ragan Norman competing in one of his matches.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

This was also a great night for the seniors. Senior Cole Landreth finished as region champion in the 152-lb. weight class, and senior Ragan Norman won the individual region title in the 285-lb. weight class. Norman described to the Americus Times-Recorder how he won his first match against a wrestler from Tiftarea Academy. “With 11 seconds, I just went in and took an outside leg sweep and took a head-in-arm and pinned him. That was it,” Norman said.

SA senior wrestler Cole Landreth with his first-place medal after winning the individual region title in the 152-lb. weight class.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Landreth described to the Americus Times-Recorder how he was able to win one of his matches on his way to a region title. “I went in and tried to get as many take downs as I possibly could,” Landreth said. “I let him back up, then I tried to get some more take downs. In the second round, I started doing more of my pinning moves. That’s how I won.”

Seniors Parker Weldon and Ben Cook both turned in outstanding performances in the tournament. Both finished as region runners-up. Weldon finished in second place in the 195-lb. weight class and Cook finished second in the 220-lb. weight class.

Left to right: SA senior wrestlers Ben Cook, Ragan Norman, Cole Landreth and Parker Weldon with their medals.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Two eighth graders finished in first place individually. Tanner Humphrey won the region title in the 113-lb. weight class, and Keaton Griffin topped the standings in the 120-lb. weight class. Three other eighth graders had strong performances in the tournament. James Wall finished as the region runner-up in the 106-lb. weight class. Mitchell Turton finished as the region runner-up in the 145-lb. weight class, and Will Rhodes finished in fourth place in the 132-lb. weight class. Freshman John Saye won the region title in the 182-lb. weight class.

SA senior wrestler Cole Landreth competing in one of his matches during the Region 3-AAA Tournament. Landreth won the individual region title in the 152-lb. weight class.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The performance of the Raiders, especially the younger wrestlers, should bode well for the Raiders in the GISA State Wrestling Tournament to be held at the GSW Storm Dome Friday and Saturday, February 1-2.

SA eighth grader Tanner Humphrey wrestling in the Region 3-AAA Tournament. Humphrey won the region championship in the 113-lb. weight class.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Last year, the Raiders finished as state runners-up. They will be trying to move up one notch this year. The tournament will begin on Friday, February 1, at 11 a.m.