Dawson County High School hosted the annual Amicalola Classic wrestling tournament over the weekend of Dec. 27-28. As one of the larger tournaments of the season, the Classic gives local teams the opportunity to go head-to-head with teams from across the southeast with schools as far away as North Carolina coming to participate in the two-day event.
This year’s slate included the Area 7-AAA Fannin County Rebels and Dawson County Tigers; a pair of teams from Cumming, Georgia in the Pinecrest Academy Paladins and Forsyth Central Bulldogs; a selection of north Georgia teams represented by the Heritage Panthers, the Chestatee War Eagles, and the Union County Panthers; and the out-of-state Murphy High School Bulldogs of North Carolina.
Another North Carolina team, the Cherokee Braves, were originally scheduled to take part in the tournament but a last-minute conflict prevented the school from attending.
Day one of the tournament featured team duals as each school battled it out across 14 weight categories in a round-robin style bracket. Unfortunately, due to the combination of a missing team and the injury status of the Tigers, Dawson County was unable to participate in the opening round of action according to event organizer and team head coach Aaron Haynes.
“With one team missing there was an odd number of teams in the tournament which makes scheduling a real pain,” Haynes said. “And with our injuries, at the moment, we would have been forfeiting seven or eight matches so it made sense for us to sit out.”
After wrestling through the shortened field, the Fannin County Rebels, who have been a dominant presence in region 7-AAA emerged as the points leader and the odds-on favorite to win it all as the tournament headed into the events of day two.
Wrestling on day two, Dawson County got the opportunity to show what they were made of as nine Tigers, slightly more than half the team, took the floor in the individual events. Starting with sophomore Trevor Cowart’s gritty victory in the 113-pound class, Dawson County swept through the first round of every weight class in which they competed.
“We’re not bad,” Haynes said. “We’re just injured.”
As the day wore on the rivalry between Fannin and Dawson emerged as a focal point in the brackets with the Rebels eliminating three Tigers along the way. In the end, eight of the nine Dawson County wrestlers fought for medals with six eventually standing on the podium.
Senior B.J. Newton (220-pounds) brought home the sole gold medal for Dawson County. Seniors D.J. Mitchell (170-pounds) and Danny Phillips (285-pounds) along with junior Ethan Powell (1256-pounds) all picked up silver medals. Cowart along with fellow sophomore Kincaide Schuette (160-pounds) rounded out the winners with a pair of bronze medals.
Forsyth Central snagged a tournament high four gold medals but, with six team finalist and 11 wrestlers placing, the Fannin County Rebels emerged as the overall winners of the 2019 Amicalola Classic.
“Fannin is really tough and have gotten better over the season. Right now, I feel like they may be one of the top two teams in the region,” Haynes said. “To be honest, if we are healthy, and that is a big if, I think a dual with Fannin would be a real slobber knocker.”