February 18-- The Vidalia High School Indian Wrestling team finished in 8th place out of 51 AA schools at the GHSA Traditional State Tournament in Macon. Tahjah Watts defended his AA State Championship at 195 pounds this past weekend, wining his second consecutive State Championship. After wining his third consecutive Region Championship and losing in the sectional finals, Watts battled through the GHSA State Championships like a man possessed. He defeated Woods of Model and then Walker of Banks County before facing off against one of two people to defeat Tahjah this season. Watts defeated Veatch of Chattooga by major decision in the State Finals. “Yes, yes, yes. This is awesome being a back to back champion. I have felt a lot of pressure to perform well here and I’ve enjoyed the competition. I’m a state champion again,” stated the usually reserved Watts after his dominating state championship match. Watts finishes his career with a school record 173 wins, two state titles, three region titles, six individual tournament championships, and eleven tournament placings. Coach Steve Fullam commented, “Tahj has had a great career for us at Vidalia. He wasn’t a starter his freshman year and has worked extremely hard since then to earn everything that’s about to come his way. Tahj will be a great ambassador for our team, school, and community at whichever school he chooses to attend.”

Fellow senior, Noah Tippett came back from shoulder surgery a year ago to finish 4th at 120 pounds. Tippett defeated Cornell (Lamar County), Clark (Banks County), and Gomes (Oglethorpe County) on his way to a top four placing; losing to only one person the entire tournament. After his last high school wrestling match, Tippett commented, “I am very appreciative of getting to come back this year and wrestle. Two weeks ago, I didn’t think I would even qualify and now a have a state medal. This medal represents continuous hard work and perseverance, not just placing in a tournament.” Tippett leaves Vidalia Wrestling with 73 career wins and ten tournament placings. “We are very proud of the season Noah was able to put together. He battled with that shoulder all year and many times in the last two weeks he won through sheer grit, one of the cornerstones of our program. We’ll miss that grittiness his has,” Coach James Ferry stated. Senior Lawson Paradice also competed at the State Tournament, winning two matches over Martinez (Union County) and Santos-Cunningham (Hephzibah). Paradice also came back this season from a severe knee injury that required complete reconstruction. Paradice said, “It meant a lot to return this year, find a weight I could compete at, and finish my career with a trip to the state tournament.” Paradice completes his career with 86 wins and ten tournament placings. Lawson is the school’s only four time All Area Academic Team member. Coach Bobby Blount stated, “Lawson has been a staple of our program for a long time. We are excited to see him end his career with us well.”

 Junior Markevious Mincey finished fourth at 132 pounds and sophomore Thomas Godbee posted his second consecutive fourth place finish at 170 pounds. Both wrestlers recorded four wins on their way to the medal stand. Mincey defeated Nunley (Callaway), Hames (Social Circle), Tuck (Olgethorpe County), and Olmos (Elbert County) on his path to fourth place. Godbee beat Carpenter (Josey), Sullivan (Jordan), Page (Dade County), and Fortson (Elbert County) on his trac through the bracket. In fact, Godbee’s only loses came to the same opponent. Coach Ferry stated, “We are not only pleased with these guys’ results, but also that they are returning next year to lead a young team. Mincey is a gifted athlete that will do tremendous things next year. He’s finally serious about what he can do in wrestling. Godbee is amazing to watch wrestle. He exemplifies what we refer to as pace, another one of our cornerstones. He has one speed and we love it. Tom is also a highly intelligent kid having placed on the All Area Academic Team both years of high school.” Also competing for the Indians was Jaylin Burns, posting a 44-win season along with him qualifying for the state tournament.

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