Before every match, Jalon Causey always gets nervous, and Saturday was no exception.
The New Manchester High senior had a good reason to feel the jitters.
He had a chance to make school history as he was wrestling in the Class AAAAA Sectional at Allatoona High.
Causey entered the two-day tournament as the No. 2 seed in the 160-pound weight class.
No wrestler in school history had ever advanced to the state tournament.
But all that has changed now as Causey finished fourth to punch his ticket into the Class AAAAA tournament next week at the Infinite Energy Arena in Gwinnett County.
“I’m pretty excited about how it turned out,” Causey said. “I’m happy at how I finished. I have had several peers at the school to wrestle before me, and they served as my inspiration. I really looked up to them. It is great to make it out to state.”
Alexander had six wrestlers to advance to the state tournament.
Representing the Cougars will be London Dubroc in the 106 division, Vinnie Ferrara (113), Austin Starnes (120), Logan Dasaro (132), Nate Nelson (145), and John Gray (152).
Starnes, a senior, was the highest placer at the Sectional tournament at third. Gray and Starnes are the only seniors in the bunch to advance. Gray was eighth at the Sectional meet.
“I’m pretty pleased with going, it wasn’t first place but all you were trying to do was qualify for state,” Starnes said. “I felt that I was solid throughout the tournament. I’m definitely excited about going to state.”
Causey started the tournament off with two wins before closing out with a pair of losses. He was defeated 7-6 in the final match by Thomas Granat of South Effingham.
“Winning that first match definitely set the tone for me,” Causey said. “I had to shake off the losses to get a chance to qualify for state. It was definitely exciting for me and a great chance to represent my school as the first.”
New Manchester assistant coach Mark Pinkney agreed.
“I’m definitely pleased at how he wrestled this weekend,” Pinkney said. “He wrestled awesome.”
Starnes, who has a 38-4 record, pinned Starr’s Mill freshman Collin Kasler to take third place. He said defeating Allatoona’s senior Sonngy Santana to advance to the third place match. Sonngy placed fifth after a decision over Ryan McNeal.
“It was really exciting being able to finish third,” Starnes said. “I made the semifinals and they lost. I was able to bounce back and get third. I’m pretty happy with the weekend, and now I have to get ready for state.”
The Cougars took nine wrestlers to the Sectionals, but only six were able to advance.
Ferrara, Dasaro and Nelson are sophomores and Dubroc is junior.
“It is a good group of wrestlers that we are taking to state,” Starnes said. “It is a really big deal for us. We have some really good sophomores on the team. This is really helping us continue to build for the future.”