The Wrestling team had great success at the 2018 Sectional Traditional Tournament held at Buford High School on February 2 and 3. Following the Area 6-AAAAA Traditional Duals, the Raiders sent 11 wrestlers to the Sectional Tournament. Of the 11 grapplers competing at the Sectionals, five are advancing to the 2018 State Tournament in Macon. Congratulations and good luck to Ronan Quigley (120 lbs), Alex Gruenig (126), AJ Harris (138), Slim Harris (152), and Ronald Humphrey (182). Three alternates are accompanying the team: Dabo Fofana (170), Nicolo Salvatori (195), and Justin Miller (285).
Sectional Tournament Notes:
Coming off their first place finish in the 2018 Area 6-AAAAA Traditional Tournament, the Raiders traveled to Buford for the Class AAAAA - Sectional B State Qualifier. To advance to the State Tournament, each individual wrestler needed to place in the top eight of their weight class. Last year, the Raiders only sent four to the Sectionals (and one alternate). In great contrast, the Raiders had 11 grapplers at Sectionals this year:
As the action began Friday night, the Raiders got off to a great start when Alex Gruenig (126) pinned his opponent from East Paulding. Next, Daba Fofana (170) dropped his opening match, but rebounded in the second round and pinned his opponent from Chamblee. At 220, Malcolm Stewart stepped up and got the pin over Cross Keys. Ronan Quigley (120) turned in a dominant performance over Buford with a 10-0 Major Decision. Unfortunately, things turned south during Mick McQuary's (132) turn on the mat. As McQuary was being taken down, he tried to break his fall and fractured both the radius and ulnar in his left arm. With five mats running at once, most of the team was unaware of the injury. Fortunately, Slim Harris (152) and Ronald Humphrey (182) returned the Raiders to the winning trend by opening with pins over Lithonia and Clark Central (respectively). Justin Miller (285), Nicolo Salvatori (195), and Tre Forbes (160) had first round losses, yet each bounced back with victories in the second round to stay alive. The highlight of the night was AJ Harris' 2-0 start. Harris (138) pinned his first round opponent from Clarkston and followed with a 17-5 Major Decision over Hiram. With his 2-0 start, Harris became the Raider's first State Qualifier of this year's tournament. At the end of the first day of competition, everyone was still in contention, except for the injured McQuary. Nine wrestlers were 1-1; AJ Harris was 2-0.
Competition resumed early Saturday morning. Once again, Alex Gruenig (126) started off with a win by pinning his opponent, this time from Hiram. Wins from Ronan Quigley (120), Slim Harris (152), and Ronald Humphrey (182) followed, bringing the number of Raider State Qualifiers to five. Despite third round losses, Daba Fofana (170), Nicolo Salvatori (195), and Justin Miller (285) continued and each finished with pins to qualify as State alternates.
The bright spot has to be the team's marked gains over last year. In 2017, the Raiders emerged from Sectionals with two sixth place and two seventh place finishes. In contrast, AJ Harris claimed second place and Ronald Humphrey finished third this year. In addition, the team added three State alternates, compared to only one in 2017.
This was a great team effort. Even accounting for the injuries to Ethan Hunt (145) and Mick McQuary (132), the team managed to qualify five of ten. In addition, Head Coach Zach McKeone was out with the flu and, as a result, Coach King and Coach Brody managed the entire tournament. This was no small task as five matches were going on at all times. With ten active wrestlers, they were busy all day. The Assistant Coaches deserve tremendous credit for keeping the team focused and organized.