Rome came out the the self-appointed victor of the dual, which was held at New Manchester, winning all three of their matches.
Lithia Springs was one victory away from claiming the top spot from the Wolves. The Lions went into the final weight class of their match with Rome with a lead but the Wolves managed to earn a pin, winning 39-36.
“I had no idea Rome was going to be here until we got here,” said Lithia Springs new coach Matt Robinson. “They have a really strong tradition as a wrestling school.”
“As young as my team is, being able to put them up against a really good team like Rome is healthy for us,” he added. “And the fact that we were right there with them at the end, I was very pleased with that.”
Lithia opened the dual with a 57-18 victory over Chapel Hill and then defeated the Jaguars 58-24 in the final match to set up the showdown with Rome.
“I was really proud of how our guys competed,” Robinson said. “We have a lot of first time wrestlers and I thought they did very well.”
Lithia was led by a host of undefeated talent. returning state placer Elbert Patterson won all three of his matches in the 152-pound weight class.
Corey Rutledge also went undefeated in three matches at 138. William Martin at 126 went undefeated in two matches and won a third by forfeit.
“I was really impressed with Corey and he showed great leadership and character,” Robinson said. “He is only a freshman but Martin had a couple of touch matches and he did a really good job.”
Justin Merriwether at 152 also went undefeated in two matches and picked up one win by forfeit.
The Jags of New Manchester had a strong day as the hosting school despite two losses. New Manchester opened the day with a loss to Rome (47-27) and loss to Lithia Springs, but managed to salvage a win against Chapel Hill, 48-30.
“These matches just showed the talent we have in Douglas County,” said head coach Raymond Leonard. “This gives us an opportunity to expand our program. The matches went well and it was great competition.”
However, Leonard was not without his critiques.
“I think we could have done better,” he said. “The lack of experience came out, but we wrestled hard.”
Standing out for New Manchester was DaQuan Hughley, who went undefeated at 170-pounds.
“I believe that Hughley is one of the best talents we have,” Leonard said. “He is very energized, and a fun wrestler to watch and he is only doing this in his first year.”
The Panthers fought hard but struggled to overcome their forfeits, as the team once again enters the season without a full roster. However, the kids they did have performed well on Wednesday.
Chapel Hill lost all three of their matches, but the results were of little consequence to new coach Marcus Harley.
“The energy was great,” Harley said. “We have a lot of stuff to work on but I liked the spirit, and the fight the guys had and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Senior Khyree Walker led the Panther team on the mat at 285-pounds after returning from Nationals over the Thanksgiving break. The Hornes brothers, Malcom and Malik, also performed well.
Harley also stated that he was impressed by the performance of sophomore Tyler Salls at 126.
“Once he gets a few big years under his belt, he will be a force to reckon with,” Harley added.