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SHS wrestling ready for state
SHS wrestling
Statesboro wrestlers Aaron Baynon and Gabe Hardy prepare for the state Class AAAAA tournament this week as coach Bo Viness looks on. - photo by All photos special to the Herald

Kasey Bayon may have graduated, but her impact can still be seen on the Statesboro High wrestling program. Her younger brother Aaron has blossomed into a state contender, and the attention she helped bring the Blue Devil program —becoming the first ever female to place in the state meet — is one of the reasons the Blue Devils have gone from four wrestlers qualifying for state to 10 this year.

“There’s no doubt that the media attention Kasey got for the program helped get other kids interested in Statesboro wrestling,” said Statesboro coach Bo Viness. “We have a lot of freshman out this year, and she helped lay the groundwork for our success.”

“We went to state duals two years in a row,” Viness said. “I have really tried to get the word out, and we are actually starting to get some kids to wrestle in middle school, which is something that hasn’t happened since I took over the program four years ago.”

The Blue Devils finished second in the region to qualify for last months state dual meet. This week they begin the state individual meet in Macon. Qualifiers include Eli Gawthrop at 106 pounds, Malik Perry at 113 pounds, Gabe Hardy at 120 pounds, Trey Van den Bosch at 126 pounds, Aaon Baynon at 138 pounds, R.J. King at 160 pounds, Deon Watson at 170 pounds, Noah Brannen at 182 pounds, Brian Phillips at 220 pounds, and Jarran May at 285 pounds.

“We really thought this year would be a little more of a rebuilding year,” Viness said. “Half of our lineup is freshmen, and we have a couple kids who have only been wrestling for a year or two so this year is pleasantly surprising.”

The state meet runs from Wednesday through Saturday at the Macon Centreplex. The competition wraps up with the state finalists wrestling on Saturday. Viness thinks he has a few wrestlers who can make it to the podium on Saturday.

“Aaron Baynon advances to the sectional finals, and I expect him to do well this week,” Viness said. “Gabe Hardy finished third in sectionals at 120 and he should do well. Jarran May made the sectional finals and he’s another to keep your eye on this week.”