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Wrestling Team Reaches Elite Eight

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Sweet 16 was oh so sweet, but the Elite Eight was nothing but spectacular.

For the first time in its 5-year existence, the varsity wrestling team at Blessed Trinity Catholic High School finished 2nd in the Area Duals thus qualifying for the State Duals and guaranteeing a spot in the Sweet 16. The State Duals were held in Macon, Georgia, this past weekend. 

For the returning members this year, making it to the state tournament was something they needed to accomplish. “Last season, the wrestling team was left with a bad taste in its mouth after losing to Riverwood in the last match for a chance to go to the State Duals,” said head coach Richard Barden. “The team did not want to have the same thing happen again this year. They worked hard during the off season to prepare.”

The hard work, blood, sweat, and, at times, tears, saw the team through the requirements of this year’s Area Duals held on January 12 and 13. BT needed to defeat at least four of their five opponents to reach state. “Our first match was against Clarkston and we defeated them 84-0,” said Barden. “Our second match was against Chamblee and we defeated them 75-6.  Both of those matches were on a Friday night. The next day we started off against Dunwoody where we were victorious with a score of 52-23. Our next match was against Riverwood, the team that had kept us from going on to state last year. I knew that Coach McKeone (Riverwood’s head wrestling coach) would have his wrestlers ready.” The match went back and forth, but BT was able to secure the berth in the State Duals with a score of 41-25.  The final match of the evening was against Westminster which BT lost 24-39.

The team members and coaching staff continued their practice regimen for the week leading up to their trip to Macon.  “We practiced all week with one goal in mine: wrestle one match at a time,” commented Barden. “The State Dual is a double elimination tournament. I talked with my assistant coaches and, while we all agreed that we were very excited about making it to the State Duals, we put a goal as a wrestling staff to try and win at least one match! This goal was going to be tough, though.”

The team’s first opponent was Elbert County, the number one team out of Area 8.  After being down 7-0, the team mounted a comeback and the matches began to go back and forth. By winning four of the last five matches, the Titans sealed the upset victory, 39-28. Goal met!

BT next went up against Hardaway,  who had defeated the Titans earlier in the season, 57-18.  BT lost 33-41.  Dinner and a good night’s sleep!

On Saturday morning, BT met Cairo, the number one team from Area 1.  “I told the team that if we could pull off another upset then we would be in the Elite Eight,” remembered Barden. “ We started off the match at the 189-lb. weight class against one of their better wrestlers, Michael Johnson. Our 189-pounder, Patrick Dever, pulled off an upset victory and set the tone for the rest of the match. We won seven of the next eight matches securing an Elite Eight finish. We finished the match with a score of 49-24.”  Crying in the stands!

The Titans were then eliminated by West Laurens, who finished third at the State Duals, in the next round with a score of 21-53.  “The loss was an end to our run at the State Duals," said Barden,"but we came away with two victories that no one had expected. I am very proud of all of my wrestlers! They have worked very hard since last year and that hard work paid off.” History made!

Team members include: Michael Crupie, Ryan Chesnutt, Michael Parker, Chad Grenda, Chris Petrakos, Jameson Contratto, Scott Buzzard, Brent Osborne, David Castellanos, Brett Nocerini, Trevor Barden, Patrick Dever, Mike Richardson, Harris Howard, Sean O’Brien, Ben Fulcher, Shane Fadem, Kyle Beauchamp, Adam Vandenberg, Brendan O’Dwyer, Mat Parker and Charles Pagano.

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