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Gator wrestling heads to state

    Two-time state wrestling champions Justin Lane and Dylan Stuckey lead a talented group of grapplers in a march to Americus this weekend to capture the GISA Class AAA crown.
    The seniors were two of 12 Gators who won region titles last week and captured the top seeds in their weight divisions. Fourteen BA wrestlers advance to state traditional tournament at Georgia Southwestern State University. The double-elimination event starts Friday night.
    “The top-seeds either get a bye or wrestle a fourth-seed from another region,” said BA head coach Andy Tomlin. “There will be 21 schools represented. Although not every team has a full squad, there will be a lot of great wrestling during these two days.”
    As a team, Bulloch has spent the season overpowering both public and private school squads. This weekend, their biggest competition will be Southland Academy from Americus and Westfield School from Perry. These three teams have dominated the GISA wrestling scene for the past five years. The Gators and the Hornets from Westfield have an intense rivalry.
    “The bottom line is that we will have to wrestle well,” said Tomlin.
    Lane, who wrestles in the 132-pound division, and Stuckey (182) are also five-time region champions and are highly favored to repeat as state title-holders.
    Other top-seeded wrestlers are freshman Kyle Samuels (106), freshman Hunter Marlowe (113), freshman Billy Tillman (126), junior Joshua Bohannon (138), senior Drew Salter (145), freshman Skyler Shuman (152), sophomore Garrett Williams (170), freshman Seth Conner (195), sophomore Tyce Lovett (220), and sophomore G.C. Kimbrell (285). Freshman Lawson Anderson (120) and senior Jake Hagan (160) go into the tournament as second seeds.
    “Lane, Stuckey and Samuels are favorites to win their weight classes,” said Tomlin. “Bohannon, Salter and Kimbrell have good chances to be state champions. They could get in there and take care of business.”
    For Lane, Stuckey, Salter and Hagan, the meet will be the final one in their illustrious careers. BA won the traditional state title in 2012 and finished second in 2011, ’13 and ‘14.  Tomlin has challenged the seniors to lead the younger grapplers.
    “All year long, the seniors have been saying that it was there year,” said Tomlin. “The last time we won a team title, these guys were freshmen. They have come so close in the last couple of years. They want to go out with a bang. The underclassmen support them and will wrestle their hearts out for them.”