Dawson County’s varsity wrestling team hosted its postseason awards ceremony and banquet on Sunday, March 26, capping off a season that saw many individuals step up and make impacts within a youthful squad.
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With just one senior on this season’s team, the Tigers had their weight classes represented by a wide variety of ages.
For head coach Arron Haynes, this scenario resulted in a tough start to the season followed by steady progress as the season continued.
By the time the Area 7-3A tournament rolled around, many of the younger wrestlers had picked up wins and the more seasoned players were preparing to qualify for State.
In the end, four individuals would finish within the top four of their weight classes at the Area Tournament, qualifying them for the State Sectionals. Five others wrestled well enough to be listed as State alternates.
Here are the award winners from the team’s ceremony, with all winners voted by the players except for the Coaches Award.
Team MVP: Landon Glander
Tough Tiger: Alex Stewart
Rookie of the Year: Ronan O’Keeffe
Most Dedicated: Mason Rosenberg
Most Improved: Jesus Arroyo
Coaches Award co-winners: Luke Lowe and Aaric Muilenburg
Glander proved to be the team's most consistent wrestler, with the freshman displaying skills that were often more refined than many others his age. Competing in the 113-pound weight class, Glander was one of the four state qualifiers.
Stewart was on the other end of the weight spectrum for the Tigers, throwing himself into the highly competitive 175-pound class that would have him face intermittent injuries. His hard-nosed and demanding approach on the mat also earned him a spot at the State Sectionals.
O’Keeffe had himself a productive season in multiple ways, with the eighth-grader helping lead the middle school team to an undefeated regular season before being called up to join the JV squad. Getting valuable mat time at major events this year, O’Keeffe will be one to watch for some time.
Rosenberg, a freshman who competed in the 106-pound class, faced early trials during the season that could have been tough to handle. But the young gun pushed on, eventually picking up wins and earning himself a spot as a state qualifier after pulling off an upset at the Area Tournament.
Arroyo also had a resilient season, initially having difficulty finishing off matches before becoming a tough out for any team. His best day was at the Amicalola Classic, where he won three matches and finished third in his weight class.
Lowe was ultimately the most successful wrestler on the squad this season, pushing through the State Sectionals to qualify for the State Finals. His skills, determination and leadership will have a strong impact on the team during his senior year next season.
Muilenburg had one of the toughest roads of any wrestler this season, with the well-built track star not winning on the mat for a while. But his hard work would eventually pay off, winning matches at both the Amicalola Classic and the Senior Night event.
The sophomore also displayed strong character during the Area Tournament, turning down an opportunity to win a match by forfeit when his opponent made an illegal move. Muilenburg chose to continue wrestling, eventually losing the match that would have qualified him for State.