Panthers surrender to Chestatee and Commerce, place fifth at Bowden Invite

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By CHARLES PHELPS AND LATRICE WILLIAMS

Head Coach Jason Powers said his team wrestled good in some spots in Tuesday night’s tri-match against Chestatee and Commerce High School, but good wasn’t good enough as Jackson County lost to both Chestatee (48-28) and Commerce (49-15) at home.

“Obviously that wasn’t too good of a night for us,” said Powers. “We had too many kids out of the lineup for various reasons and we just didn’t quite have the firepower for either team.

“We wrestled two tough teams. We knew we had to have a full lineup going into that night,” said Powers. “Not having it didn’t help matters at all. I felt like, in spots, we wrestled well. I felt like, in spots, we should’ve wrestled better no matter the team score. There’s a lot to learn from tonight; we need to move forward and get ready for Area in two weeks.”

Anthony Ledford was the only Panther to win a match against Commerce. Their other two wins came off of forfeits by CHS. Ledford also won his match against Chestatee 6-4. Commerce won the other eight matches, including two by first-round pins and four second-round pins.

“I didn’t feel like we were physical enough that night. Commerce is a very physical team, which is great, but we didn’t quite get physical with them. In some of the matches we were a little bit outskilled in some spots,” said Powers. “That’s fine; however, we’ve got to get more physical. If you get more physical, sometimes it opens up a few more holes.”

Against Chestatee, the Panthers faired better, but it still wasn’t enough to keep it close. Evan Breakspear won his 220-pound match with a second-round pin. Kyle Crumley won his 145-pound match with a second-round pin as well. They also recorded two forfeit wins against Chestatee.

“It’s back to ground-zero — working on the stuff we’ve got to get better at. Everything’s a building block. That night was a building block as far as getting ready for Area,” Powers said. “That night was just one of those stepping stones that wasn’t (quite) what we wanted it to be, but we have to look at it as that, learn from it and move on.”

This past weekend, the Panthers competed in the Bowden Invitational where they finished fifth; however, Jackson County had some impressive individual performances.

“This was a great tournament for us going into the Area tournament. We still had two starters out of the lineup and we were only a couple of points out of third place,” said Powers. “I am very proud of how we performed this weekend, especially in the medal round. Evan and Lane both picked up their second tournament victories of the season and our other wrestlers added to their medal count for the year.”

The Area meet is scheduled for this weekend. It’s always a goal of the Panthers to place somewhere in the top four but a first-place finish would be a huge confidence booster and not to mention a better seeding at sectionals. The state tournament requirements are stiff, leaving Jackson County no room for error, however, Powers said he feels as though his team is up for the task.

“We are doing our best wrestling of the season right now and I know we are ready mentally and physically. We are hoping to advance at least seven wrestlers out of the area tournament with hopes that a few more wrestlers will step up and get some big wins. As a team it is our goal to stay in the top four. Doing this will be a great accomplishment coming out of the Area,” Powers said.

“The higher you place, the better off you will be headed into the sectional tournament. Placing in the top three will be great heading into next weekend, but those that place fourth will still have a great shot as our number four seeds will be a lot better than most number two and some number one seeds out of the other area,” said Powers.

Jackson County will return to action tomorrow at 5 p.m. and on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Elbert County High School.