The Liberty County Recreation Department Mat Rat Wrestling Team started competing as a team just this season.
Earning a team trophy was their goal, one that was met last week when they won third place at the South Georgia Wrestling Championships in Toombs County.
"Finally we broke into the top three at a major USA Wrestling event," head coach Philip Howe said. "We’ve been right on the edge of breaking into the top three. All of the wrestlers did an outstanding job at the tournament. Most notable merit came from Mason Wells earning the most outstanding wrestler of the tournament."
Howe said Tyler Fisher also had a key win, which secured the team’s placement.
"This victory helped to nudge out Perry for third Place," the coach said. "Once again our number of entries where low but our efforts where huge. We had 9 entries compared to South Georgia Athletic Club’s 20 entries, Toombs’ 42 entries and Perry’s 31 entries. Once again, we are competing and beating these top programs head-to-head."
The coach said Wells pinned all 7 of his opponents, finishing with gold medals in the 130 and 135- pound weight class. Wells finished the day with most pins, most wins, most team points and most pin falls in the shortest amount of time — 7 pins in six minutes and 26 seconds. His fastest pin was 33 seconds.
Fisher finished with a silver medal at the 130-pound class and bronze at 135 pounds.
"Tyler’s key match came at 135-pounds," Howe said.
Mighty Rat Andrew Houghton, 8, finished fourth. Zack Terry finished with a gold medal at the 160-pound weight class.
"Zack displayed some of his best wrestling of the session," the coach said. "It was truly impressive to see Zack put so many combinations of moves together in the matches he wrestled."
Jonathon Moyett finished with two silver medals in the 105- and 110-weight classes.
"These bouts with (a Toombs wrestler) who is 19-0 on the session where very intense battles," Howe said. "Jonathon demonstrated just how tough he was in all of the matches they faced each other. With a little more time and work Jonathon will be seated at the top of this weight class with his great work ethic and tremendous heart."
Johnpatrick Schiesser finished with a silver medal in the 115-pound class. The coach said he was on his way to a gold medal before he was forced to forfeit due to an injury sustained in his semifinal. A Toombs wrestler who was disqualified for an illegal slam that injured Schiesser.
The Mat Rats will send three wrestlers to Valdosta this weekend for the SGAC Devil Dog Challenge.
"We hope to get some extra practices and much needed rest in before attending the state qualifiers in West Laurens in two weeks," Howe said.
Beginning in March freestyle wrestling practices will begin and the team is recruiting more athletes. Registrations are being accepted at the LCRD.
Visit the Mat Rats Web-site at: www.caawrestling.org
First place: South Georgia Athletic Club (Valdosta)
Second place: Toombs County
Third place: LCRD Mat Rats, Coastal Athletic
Fourth place: Perry
Fifth place: West Laurens
Sixth place: Peachtree City