High School Sports

State wrestling champ inspired by adversity on football field

GRAY -- It was a play that Jones County defensive lineman Torrez Finney won’t soon forget.

With the Greyhounds clinging to a slim lead and Mays down to its final play in the quarterfinals of the GHSA Class AAAAA football playoffs, Finney had a hand on quarterback Asahnia Aderhold.

Had Finney taken Aderhold down, time would have expired and Jones County would have won. But Finney could not quite hang on. Aderhold managed to find a receiver in the end zone and Jones County’s dream season was suddenly over.

Finney admits the frustration of the tough loss pushed him to new heights during the wrestling season, where he was virtually unbeatable. Finney (40-4) won the Class AAAAA championship at 195 pounds, defeating Camden County’s Aaron Galegor, a wrestler who had beaten him a week earlier in the sectional meet.

“Torrez is an unbelievable leader, and he has a relentless effort every day and demands the same from his teammates,” Jones County football head coach Justin Rogers said. “I may have to take him out of ­practice this spring just so we can get some plays off.”

The junior is The Telegraph All-Middle Georgia Wrestler of the Year.

“It was a tough time for all of us because we believed that we could win a football state championship,” said Finney, who recorded 24 sacks. “When it was time for wrestling, I was determined that I would not feel that pain of losing again. There are a lot of great wrestlers at that weight class, but thankfully I was able to come through with some big wins at the end of the year.”

Finney’s wrestling career started in the seventh grade.

“I actually got cut from the basketball team in the seventh grade, and I wanted to play another sport, so I decided to try wrestling,” said Finney, who went undefeated that first year in the 126-pound weight class. “By the time I started wrestling at the high school level as a freshman, I was up to 145 pounds and I was having a good season, but I broke my ankle in a match late in the season. That pretty much ended my year.”

The injury spurred Finney to train even harder. He said that it was frustrating to be injured, but instead of sulking, Finney had a different approach.

“I missed two weeks of school with the injury, and every day I would roll out of bed with one leg up and do pushups,” Finney said. “I got to where I could do 150 pushups without stopping because I realized I had to get my upper body stronger. When I could start rehabbing my lower body, I could only squat about 200 pounds, but in a short time I was squatting 315.

“As frustrating as the injury was, I think it ended up being a blessing in disguise because it gave me a chance to get much stronger.”

By the time he was a sophomore, Finney was up to 170 pounds, and he finished the football season as a backup defensive lineman. But he was much more accomplished as a wrestler, and he managed a sixth-place finish at the state meet.

This year, at a chiseled 195 pounds, Finney dominated his competition and cruised to the school’s first individual wrestling championship since 2006.

Jones County wrestling head coach Jay Crook said he was so confident in Finney’s talent that he actually told teachers at Jones County that he felt like Finney would win the state championship this year.

“He is such an unbelievable athlete that I truly believed he would win,” said Crook, who has been coaching Finney from the very start. “I remember when he started out he was like a wild man dancing, but it was obvious from the start he was extremely talented. I have no doubt in my mind that he is a D-I wrestler.”

Finney has put on almost 20 pounds since the season ended and is hopeful to continue participating in football and wrestling at the collegiate level.

“I know I can play college football at a high level, but right now I am only 5-6, and although that helps me in wrestling it is obviously difficult for a 5-6 defensive lineman to get much attention.

“I am still hoping to grow because I have size 14 feet and the doctor says I have the wingspan of someone that is 6-3, but if it doesn’t work out, that’s OK. I love both sports equally, and if I can get a scholarship in wrestling I can always walk onto the football team. But I really love both sports.”

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