Christian Rodgers maintained a steady climb up the state wrestling ladder throughout his high school career.
Every year, Rodgers’ finish at the state meet improved. The only thing lacking on his resume was a state title.
In his final GHSA match Saturday, the Tattnall Square senior took care of that one missing piece, winning the Class 1A title at 220 pounds when his opponent, Knox Allen of Commerce, could not continue following an early ankle injury.
“It was not exactly how I wanted to win it,” said Rodgers, who lost just two matches during his senior season. “But I got to the final round, and I ended up winning it.
“It feels awesome. Six years of wrestling, all of that hard work, and I finally got a state championship.”
Rodgers’ match didn’t last long. Allen appeared to roll over his right ankle as he tried to shoot underneath Rodgers five seconds into the contest. Rodgers turned him over for a two-point takedown as they rolled out of bounds, but Allen didn’t appear to be hurt until he mounted a successful escape attempt a few seconds after the restart.
Allen, who came to a stop after the escape with both wrestlers in the up position, used all but 14 seconds of his allotted 90-second injury time before continuing. The two wrestled in the up position for about another minute, then, as one of the officials began to put Allen on notice for stalling, Allen went to the mat on his own. His injury time elapsed soon after, and Rodgers had himself a victory 1:29 into the match.
“When you get to state, it’s so scary,” Rodgers said. “One match, and you’re out of the running for first and second. The first match (Friday) I came out and wrestled a little sloppy, got a little worried. The second match, I was able to get control and wrestle how I was supposed to wrestle to get to the finals.
“(Saturday) I was able to get a takedown and get a win, but it wasn’t the way I wanted to get the win.”
Northside’s Dashawn Farber went the distance in winning the Class 6A title at 132 pounds, defeating Valdosta’s Miles Paramore 11-4. Farber dominated his match, scoring a three-point takedown in the first period and building on that margin from there.
“I just kept trying to score points,” Farber said. “(The three-point takedown) was very crucial.”
Claiming second-place finishes after losses Saturday were Veterans’ Julian Farber at Class 5A 106 pounds and Houston County’s Reed Vincent at Class 6A 138 pounds.
In other Middle Georgia action, West Laurens’ Vincent Mannella won the 106-pound class in Class 4A with a 19-4 technical fall over Gilmer’s Dan Puac. His teammate, Cameron Butler, topped Jefferson’s Mason Corbett 12-9 to win the 160-pound class.
With 133.5 points, West Laurens posted Middle Georgia’s strongest team finish, third in Class 4A. Veterans finished ninth in Class 5A with 68 points, and Dodge County placed 10th in Class 2A with 35.5 points.
Winning team championships were Camden County (7A), Alexander (6A), Buford (5A), Jefferson (4A), Bremen (3A), Social Circle (2A) and Commerce (1A).
GHSA Wrestling Championships
Middle Georgia Finishes
132: 1. Dashawn Farber (Northside).
138: 2. Reed Vincent (Houston County)
106: 2. Julian Farber (Veterans).
132: 5. Michael Mort (Veterans).
138: 6. Nick Nelson (Jones County).
160: 5. Jacob Pierce (Veterans).
182: 4. Kori Walker (Veterans).
106: 1. Vincent Mannella (West Laurens).
120: 2. Logan McGowan (West Laurens).
126: 5. Evan Stokes (West Laurens).
145: 2. Blake Beasley (West Laurens).
160: 1. Cameron Butler (West Laurens).
170: 6. Keyontae Robinson (Upson-Lee).
220: 4. Lazavier Moore (Upson-Lee).
285: 4. Joseph Horne (West Laurens); 6. Carl Whitehead (Perry).
182: 4. Tavores Pearson, Westside.
285: 6. Javis Johnson, Central.
126: 4. Cameron Mack, Dublin.
132: 5. Dejuan Blackshear, Dublin.
138: 2. Christian Grauberger, Dodge County.
160: 5. Jared Cannon, Dodge County.
170: 3. Maximillian Hess, Monticello.
182: 2. Zyshonne Holliman, East Laurens; 5. Zacharie Pryor-Hicks, Northeast.
195: 5. Davadrick Turner, Dublin; 6. Cam’ron McCloud, Dodge County.
220: 6. Zachery Ferguson, Lamar County.
285: 3. Cedric Dumas, Lamar County.
132: 4. Matthew Barajas, Crawford County.
195: 6. Denson Martin, FPD.
220: 1. Christian Rodgers, Tattnall Square.