Blue Devils win Region 1-6A traditional title

Feb. 3—TIFTON — Tift County secured another region wrestling title Saturday, Feb. 3. This time, it was the Blue Devils earning the 1-6A traditional crown, with six first place winners at the tournament, held at Tifton's Eighth Street Middle School.

The Blue Devils ran away with the title, scoring 241.5 points for the meet. Lee County and Thomas County Central tied for second in points, each at 192.5 Officials were still in the process Saturday afternoon of determining official procedure for ties.

Fourth place went to Veterans at 161.5, with Houston County fifth at 130 and Northside (Warner Robins) sixth at 116.

"Without a doubt," he's proud, said Tift head coach Shawn Watson. "I'm proud. We got after it today."

Tift won the girls area tournament Friday and in January, the boys won Region 1-6A's duals, giving them three conference championships this year.

Every wrestler competing placed at region, said Watson. The worst finish of any weight class was fifth. Beyond the six golds, two wrestlers were runners-up and three placed third. Injuries cost Tift a heavyweight wrestler.

Antron Johnson (113 pounds), Kenneth "K.J." Wilcox (126), Stephen Zheng (144), Javon Bateman (150), Bryan Melton (165) and Damion Moate (190).

Only two Devils won his title by pinfall. Bateman needed 55 seconds to dispatch his opponent from Thomas County Central. Melton pinned a Northside grappler in the second period. Bateman's semifinal saw him pin a man as well.

Johnson was only the first example of Tift's dominance in championship matches, winning a 14-3 major decision. He also won the semifinal match by major decision, 18-7. Wilcox secured a 13-4 major decision in his championship following a pin in the semis. Moate's gold medal match was an 11-3 major decision.

Zheng trailed 5-1 at the end of the first period of his finale, the single point coming in the closing seconds on an escape. He battled back to tie in the second before holding on in a wild third period.

Dawson McMillan earned second place at 157 pounds, as did Danny Freeman at 175.

Though Freeman finished second, he had the shortest match of the day, winning his semifinal in six seconds. Moate was close behind with a 16-second pin.

In third were Peyton Whiddon (106), Andres Soto (120) and Austin King (132).

King's consolation win was a 17-1 technical fall that did not even make it all of the first period, being stopped with nine seconds still on the clock.

Fourth place went to Michael Dixon at 215 pounds and fifth place went to Daniel Soto at 138 pounds.