The McCallie Invitational wrestling tournament, held at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, TN, has long been THE southeastern test before the Christmas break for wrestling fans. With 33 teams and the absolute best high school wrestlers in the area, winning at the McCallie Invitational is a statement of big goals and a badge of honor to be worn into the new year. But winning here is no Christmas gift. This is a title that must be earned.
The field is deep with talent and any place on the podium is a symbol of courage. The northwest corner of Georgia is filled with wrestling talent many local wrestlers were on hand to battle for on of these coveted spots on the award podium.
In Floyd County, it was the Armuchee Indians, with just seven wrestlers, who picked up 61 points and finished 22nd in the field. The Indians were missing defending State Champion Wes Conley but were led by senior returning State Champion Jacob Henderson (182). Henderson was the #2 seed going into the tournament and blew through his competition until the semi-finals. Ben Deal from West Laurens was the eventual tournament champion and allowed only a single point to be scored against him. The 4-1 victory over Henderson was the best match of the day as Deal went on to score a 10-0 victory in the finals. Henderson bounced right back after the loss, scoring two more Majors, including a 10-1 victory for 3rd Place. Henderson’s 5-1 record with two pins and two Majors earned Armuchee 25 team points and led all Indian wrestlers. Freshman Joey Espy (106) went 2-2 with a pin and a Major and earned 9 points, brother Cameron Espy (113) went 3-2 with two pins and picked up 12 team points. Brayden Butler (145) went 3-2 including two pins while Ethan Nixon (152) went 1-2 with a Tech Fall.