Hosting the Junior Jacket Invitational, the Rockmart Middle School wrestling team turned in an exciting day of competition to post a 3-1 record and take third place out of nine teams.
RMS defeated Davis Middle School 58-48 to start off the morning, beginning a full day of matches that tested the Jackets’ durability while battling injuries.
“For the first match we did pretty well,” Rockmart coach Kris Maynard said. “We’re sill missing a couple of starters and having to forfeit some matches but I felt good about it. They’re a strong team.”
Taking on Darlington next, the Jackets easily won 99-16 after Darlington was forced to forfeit a string of matches and Rockmart piled up a number of pins.
Finishing up pool play, Rockmart took on Cass Middle School – the toughest competitor of the day and eventual tournament champion – and lost 65-38.
But the Jackets did not go down easily as twice matches went into an overtime period where Cass was able to get the first points and win.
“If it wasn’t for three or four close matches we could have beat them and they’re ranked No. 1 in the state,” Maynard said. “That tells us we’re right there at the top.”
Jared Pike picked up a close 7-6 decision in his match while Dakota Wilson faced a bigger opponent in his turn but was able to overpower him for an 18-2 win by technical fall.
Marlon Morales and Hayden Cook won by fall in their matches and Chris Owens was on the verge of picking up another Rockmart win as he was beating his opponent on points but was pinned in the third and final period.
“We came out and wrestled hard,” Maynard said. “That was probably the best we’ve wrestled all year.”
Finishing second in their pool, the Jackets took on Cartersville Middle in the battle for third place and were able to shake off a loss to the Purple Hurricanes the week before and win 72-45.
“We had more guys this time around but we still had other starters out,” Maynard said. “Most of all we came out fired up, ready to wrestle and we knew what to expect.
“The biggest difference was we wrestled with energy.”
Rockmart needed that energy to get past the diligent Cartersville team as the lead changed hands a number of times until the Purple Hurricanes had a 39-30 advantage midway through the match.
But a pair of forfeits by Cartersville along with pins from Morales, Cook, Wilson and heavyweights Alvin Allen and Jamal Sims locked in the win and the third-place finish for the Jackets.
Overall, Devon Darden, Tyler Jones, Morales, Cook and Wilson all went undefeated on the day as did Nick Forsyth, who wrestled one match and had to be replaced due to an injury.
But still, Forsyth, Cook and Wilson remain undefeated on the year and are big parts of a team that Maynard says is getting more confident by the day.
“We did much better today,” he said. “We’re neck and neck with the top team in the state and that’s pretty good.”
RMS will have a long break to get everybody back as they will not compete again until the Polk County Championships on Jan. 11 at Rockmart High School.