• Ryan Crump (left) finished second in the 182-pound division at Saturday’s Panther Invitational.

GHS places 4th at Panther Inv.

The always competitive Panther Invitational at Jackson County High School played host to 23 teams last Saturday.

The event attracted three state champions from last season, and they topped the standings. The Gilmer Bobcats made the two-hour trek and placed fourth with 154 points.

Fellow Class 4A foe Jefferson won the event ahead of Class A Commerce, 261-203. Class 2A Social Circle was third and tallied 175.5 points.

GHS coach Josh Ghobadpoor noted that Gilmer wrestlers did not receive any favors when seeded, and several faced eventual tournament champions in early rounds.

“We had eight placers, and a lot of guys wrestled tough,” he said. “We really didn’t have great draws going into the tournament. We were matched up with Commerce three or four times in the first round.

“We saw West Laurens and Jefferson (wrestlers) a little early as well so our seeding could have been a little better, but since it’s early in the season, there isn’t much we can put for some guys who may be having a great year, but their criteria isn’t enough to get seeded over a state placer.”

While the Bobcats did face some daunting draws, Ghobadpoor was happy to see GHS tested.

“This was one of those things where it was, ‘How are we going to act when we got into a big individual tournament?’ he said. “We’ve been to some big dual tournaments, but now it’s a little different when everybody has to be mentally prepared and kind of warm up on their own.

“I thought we did really well. We faced some really tough guys in the first and second rounds, which kind of put us in a tough spot later on. But we needed to wrestle those matches, and in a lot of them we kept the score tight.”

Senior Bobcat Ryan Crump (182 pounds) was Gilmer’s lone finalist and placed second.

“Ryan lost a really good match to Ben Deal of West Laurens,” Ghobadpoor said. “He was a state champ two years ago, and it was probably the best match of the entire tournament. Both guys wrestled a really good match. If that match were wrestled a couple of times, it could have gone either way.”

Grayson Patterson (113) and Hoyt Stover (132) both placed third and Alex Repeuten (138) was fourth.

Four Bobcats finished fifth, which included Lucas Lopez (120), Javier Jacinto (126), Chase Calvert (152) and Anthony Zilke (285).

“Hoyt looked really tough and he had a good tournament,” Ghobadpoor said. “Alex had Dawson Bates of Jefferson, who is a three-time state champion, and that was just a tough matchup. Chase had an outstanding day. He only lost to one guy but had to wrestle him twice. I feel like all of our guys, for the most part, got better as the day went on.”

Also competing for GHS were Gustavo Morales (106 pounds, 2-2 record), Jose Velasquez (145, 1-2), Carlos Lopez (160, 0-2), Abel Jacinto (170, 0-2), Grizzly Breedlove (195, 2-2) and Taylor Brogdon (220, 2-2).

Gilmer was without several starters, but Ghobadpoor noted it was not a unique situation.

“We were missing three or four starters for various reasons,” he said. “A couple had to take the SAT, and we were dealing with a couple of injuries. We had around 10 of our normal guys and took some younger ones in some weight classes so they could see what a big tournament is like.

“But you could probably say the same about some of the other teams as well. At this point of the year, you might not have everybody, but you’ll have most of them.”

GHS hosted Pickens and Robinsville (N.C.) at press deadline. The Bobcats will attend the Cleveland (Tenn.) Duals Saturday.

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