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Annual John Wayne Corcoran wrestling tournament a success
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Bobbi Jo Corcoran presents the first and second place medals in the 165-pound weight class at the John Wayne Corcoran Novice Wrestling Tournament on Jan. 13. - photo by Bob Christian

The John Wayne Corcoran Wrestling Association held the eighth annual fundraising tournament at Rock Creek Park Jan. 13.

The event was a beginner’s tournament for first and second year wrestlers aged 5 to 14 and featured 80 wrestlers from all over Georgia, with one wrestler coming from as far away as North Carolina.

Originally organized by members of the community and friends in honor of John Wayne Corcoran, a young wrestler who was killed in a hunting accident in October 2009 at age 11, the tournament serves as the sole fundraiser for the Dawson County recreational team.

Corcoran’s passion for the sport was evident at an early age according to his mother and tournament director, Bobbi Jo Corcoran.

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Gavin Austin, 8, proudly shows off his first place medal in the 8U 52-pound weight class at the John Wayne Corcoran Novice Wrestling Tournament on Jan. 13. - photo by Bob Christian

“In the fifth grade, he went up to the high school coach and said, my name is John Wayne and I’m going to wrestle for you one day,” Corcoran said. “He was the only fifth grader allowed to practice with the high school team.”

Gavin Austin, 8, claimed the first-place medal in the 8U 52-pound weight class after battling through five opponents. When asked about the toughest part of his day, he talked about his third match.

“That kid had won the most,” Austin said. “He was undefeated, and I beat him.”

Family members and friends provided food and beverages while the high school and middle school wrestling teams provided referees and mats for the tournament.

“This year we saw a lot of the high school kids he wrestled with come back to the tournament with their own kids,” Corcoran said. “That was really neat to see.”