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Ellijay, GA
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Bobcat a national wrestling champion!

Gilmer High sophomore Levi Seabolt traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., and came home as a national champion in his weight class.
Seabolt crushes competition for wrestling national title

by Robbie Bills

Gilmer’s Levi Seabolt entered the tournament as the second lowest seed, and left as the undisputed heavyweight national champion.    

The National High School Coaches Association wrestling tournament for sophomores  was held in Virginia Beach, Va., March 28-29. Bobcat Matthew Waddell (170 pounds) posted a 2-2 record while Seabolt tore through the 32-man field and was crowned the top sophomore heavyweight in the United States.

“Levi and Matthew were our highest scorers this past season as sophomores,” said GHS coach Sam Snider. “They both won state and one of the reasons is their dedication to doing offseason training. Casey Wingard has done a great job coaching and working with Levi. Ultimately, it was Levi and his family that committed to being the best (at) 285 (pounds) in the state, and now the best sophomore 285 in the nation. Levi has done us all proud and it is an amazing accomplishment.”

Seabolt, who posted a 52-3 record during the high school season, said he was unfazed by his low seeding entering the event and expected to win.

“I really didn’t care because I knew if I beat the No. 2 seed (in the opening round) I was basically in the finals,” he said. “I thought I was going to win it all, especially facing people my age (15).”

Seabolt pinned his first two opponents in the first period and won in the quarterfinals by minor decision, 4-1. In the semifinals, he pinned once again in the opening period. He was the lone sophomore representative from the southeast in the finals, and made quick work of New Jersey’s Nick Rivera with a cradle for a first-period victory.

Following the tournament, Seabolt received the distinction as the national champion with five victories in the shortest amount of time.

Despite his dominance, he had to shake off some nerves heading into the finals.

“I was really nervous because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t have anyone to warm up with,” Seabolt admitted. “I just had to grab one of the guys I beat earlier in the tournament to warm up with. It was good to work up a sweat before the match because I just like to get all the nerves out. It helped my muscles warm up and get my reaction time up.”

Seabolt normally warms up with Wingard, a GHS assistant who won a state championship at Etowah High School 13 years ago and placed third in the nation. Seabolt credits Wingard with being his biggest wrestling influence.

“I don’t know how I could have done it if I didn’t have him,” Seabolt said. “We get after it in the wrestling room and it’s good to have two big guys going at it who are both athletic.”

Wingard praised Seabolt and noted he possessed the skills needed to succeed before his arrival to GHS.

“Levi deserves everything he gets, because out of all the places I’ve been, he is by far the hardest working, most respectful and coachable kid I’ve had the pleasure to be around. His work ethic is tremendous and he has the  desire to be better than he even expects.  When I came to Gilmer two years ago, he already had the building blocks in place. I just drilled with him and was able to be that partner who pushed him.”

In addition to wrestling, Seabolt started every game last season for the Bobcat football team. He is undecided about his post-high school plans, though he is leaning toward wrestling.

“I feel like I’m better at wrestling than football,” he said. “I definitely could get a scholarship in both, but there will be a lot more big guys going on to play collegiate football and there’s a need for bigger guys in college wrestling with the weight classes jumping from 197 to 285.”

Next, Seabolt will attend the East Coast Nationals in Jackson County, April 11.
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