After having their starting lineup depleted by graduation and a series of redistricting between school years, the Eagles have seen their numbers fall dramatically, sending one of the best wrestling programs in north Fulton a year ago into a swift retooling phase.
“It is an understatement to say we are rebuilding after losing five seniors to graduation and three starters to Cambridge [through redistricting],” said Milton wrestling Coach Billy Bradach. “We haven’t had over 20 athletes come out this year, now we are down to about 17 wrestlers and I’ve had to adjust my expectations for the season.”
The rebuilding process comes one year after Bradach had one of the best groups not only north Fulton, but statewide — the Eagles sent wrestlers in six of 14 weight classes to the Traditional State Tournament in Gwinnett, had two wrestlers place in the state and finished 15th overall in AAAAA.
This season they have struggled to fill out a full 14-man lineup most nights, normally forfeiting three to four weight classes in dual meets — the main reason for their 5-15 mark as a team.
“Right now we are young, but learning to be competitive,” said the Milton coach, before pointing out he starts seven sophomores, three junior and just one senior.
With such a young team, Bradach has leaned on senior Phillip Anderson to lead the team.
Anderson, who finished second in the state last year at 120 pounds and third in the state as a sophomore at 119 pounds is the Eagles’ team captain. Bradach said he expects Anderson, who is 20-0 with 12 pins this season, to make a run towards a state championship this fall.
Behind Anderson, Bradach said junior Zach McGee (132 pounds) and Jake Vitari (138 pounds) have been impressive this season along with sophomores Charles Mills (160 pounds) and Lee McClellan (170 pounds).
“I’ve never been in quite this situation before, but I hope by the region tournament we will be over all of our injuries and inexperience,” said the Milton coach. “Until then we will keep hammering away [in practice] at the basics and see what happens.”
Milton will head to LaGrange for the Granger Duals next weekend then compete in the 5AAAAAA Duals at Roswell High School Jan. 5.