Pinning their way to more medals, eight of nine wrestlers from the Liberty County Recreation Department’s Mat Rats wrestling team are on their way to their first state meet.
The middle school division meet was scheduled for yesterday at Roswell High School and the elementary division wrestlers will head to Fayetteville next Saturday.
"We took nine wrestlers to West Laurens for the state qualifiers and eight of the nine qualified," Mat Rats coach Philip Howe said. "It was their first time at the qualifying event and it will be their first trip to the state meet."
In yesterday’s folk-style meet, Mason Wells was set to fight in the 135-pound weight class, Tyler Fisher at 130, Jonathan Moyett at 110,
David Schiesser at 97 and Trey Neil at 73.
The coach thinks Wells will surprise the judges.
"We’ve got a couple of them that could be really underestimated," he said of his wrestlers. "Mason (Wells) has done incredibly well this year and, unfortunately, he has gone in as the 16th seed in the tournament. They are greatly underestimating his abilities."
The coach was pleased, however, that Trey Neal and Jonathan Moyett were seeded high in their respective weight divisions.
In the elementary division, the qualifiers were Sam Schiesser in the 76-pound weight class, Andrew Houghton at 70 and Zach Terry qualified at 160.
"I have no expectations of them except for them to go out there and learn and have a good time and get something from it," Howe said.
Assistant coach Travis Wells said it should be a great learning experience for the group and an opportunity to see exactly where they stand.
Howe said the meet features the top 24 wrestlers in the state.
For Fisher and Wells, it’s their first and last chance to shine at state. Next year, they will be too old for the middle school category.
"I feel for those guys," Howe said. "That this is their last big shot. All but two of them will have an opportunity to go in next year. Obviously this will be Mason and Tyler’s last year. They will have state and stuff, but it will be on the folk style and Greco-Roman side of things."
However, Howe was quick to point out Wells and Fisher will continue to fight when the Greco-Roman and freestyle meets begin around April.
The Courier will provide state results as they become available.