EDITOR’S NOTE: The COVID-19 pandemic closed local schools before they could hold their winter sports banquets honoring student-athletes, so coaches have agreed to announce postseason team awards here in the newspaper. Coverage continues today with GMC Prep boys and girls basketball and wrestling.
Lacking the numbers to make an impact when it came to the team aspect of competition, the 2019-20 GMC Prep wrestling team took to the mat with a different mission in mind.
“Our season was actually pretty positive,” fourth-year GMC head wrestling coach Dr. Steve Greer said. “We suffer from not having a full team. That’s our biggest challenge and it’s been that way since I’ve been here. … For me, it’s just about having the guys go in there and do their best and try to improve individually as wrestlers. We medaled at every single tournament we went to, so that was promising.”
Bulldog wrestling finished this past season with seven on the squad. With 14 needed to field a full team across the different weight classes, it’s easy to see why the main focus was more on individuals. Five GMC Prep wrestlers placed in the top-4 at area, including one area champ, which was good enough to advance them to sectionals. There three of the five competed well enough to earn their ticket to the big event — the GHSA wrestling state championships held at the Macon Coliseum.
“It’s not the most kids we’ve sent to state, but in terms of numbers it was very good in comparison to how many we had actually compete,” said Greer.
The three who went to state failed to make a big splash on high school wrestling’s biggest stage, but the good news is that all of them are expected back next season with that valuable experience under their belts.
GMC Prep wrestling announces the following awards based on the team’s performance from the 2019-20 season.
Most Outstanding Wrestler - Hudson Caldwell
As a junior wrestling in the 195-pound weight class, Caldwell was the Bulldogs’ only wrestler to earn a ‘W’ at state. That win was preceded by his second individual area championship as a high school wrestler.
“He actually had a pretty good season overall,” Greer said. “Overall he was very competitive and fought through a couple of injuries. He’s a two-time area champ for us now. He’ll be back next year to serve as our senior captain.”
Co-Most Improved Wrestlers - Will Deason and Evan Brantley
The most improved award is being shared by the other two Bulldog wrestlers who like Caldwell earned the right to compete at state.
“Both had good seasons as 10th-graders and have been with our program since middle school,” the head coach said. “We’ll be glad to have these guys come back next year as juniors.”
Grit Award - Calvin Waldroup
The team’s final individual award goes to junior Calvin Waldroup, who Greer said showed a great deal of improvement throughout the season as well. When he returns as a senior, Waldroup will look to break through the sectional competition and earn his spot on the state stage.
“He’s really the grittiest guy we have,” said Greer. “He’s a kid who just doesn’t stop and always gives you 100 percent at practice. He’s just one of those hard-nosed kids. He plays on the line for our football team at only about 170 pounds. Calvin’s just a good all-around athlete who is always there when you need him.”
Other members of GMC Prep’s 2019-20 wrestling team who finished the season included Andrew Westberry, Joey Benson and David Smith. Devon Harper and Kathence Mooneyham served as the team managers.
While there will be no seniors lost to graduation, there is one piece that will be missing when the Bulldogs return to the mat — their head coach. Dr. Greer is handing the reins over after four years to newcomer Rob Carlyle who will be coming to GMC Prep from Locust Grove. Greer said Carlyle plans to start a youth wrestling program at the school for the elementary-age kids in hopes of building the program’s numbers up for the future.
“He’s a very talented wrestling coach and a talented wrestler in his own right,” Greer said of Carlyle. “He wrestled in the U.S. Navy’s freestyle program and also wrestled four years in college after he left the Navy. We’re excited to bring him on board and I really see the GMC wrestling program growing over the next several years.”