MACON — At the conclusion of Saturday’s Class AAAAAAA 170-pound finals bout, Rockdale County’s Jha’Quan Anderson sat on the mat, his right arm slouched over his right knee and the left arm propping him up while staring into the ground, not knowing how to react in that moment.
The senior’s goal of winning an individual state championship after finishing in second his junior year fell short after losing to Mountain View’s Garrett Spikes by one point, 6-5 Saturday evening.
And while he eventually built up the stamina to raise to his feet, shake his opponent’s hand and walk off of the mat, Anderson spent the next few minutes alone, knowing his opportunity of going out on top was no longer a possibility.
Head coach David Baros attempted to find his senior amongst the thunderous crowd on hand before Anderson eventually returned, stood atop his second-place podium spot, all while barely uttering a word before walking out of the Macon Centreplex one last time as competitor.
Baros said that while it was hard to watch Anderson come so close again, it was a career he wanted his senior to know that he was proud of.
“These are awesome kids,” Baros said. “They work hard. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I know he’s upset that he didn’t win a title, but he still worked hard and that’s more important than anything. That’s what life is going to be. You have to keep working hard no matter how tough things get. You keep working hard and that will always be my message to them.”
Anderson finishes his career at Rockdale with more than 140 career victories and was the Region 8 Area Duals champion, Area Traditional champion and sectionals champion before finishing in his runner-up spot at the state tradtionals on Saturday.
Fellow Bulldog Edward Pollard joined Anderson atop the podium in second place after falling to Collins Hill’s Tomari Fox 8-1 in the 285-pound bout. The junior cruised through the first two round of the bracket before earning a hard-fought victory over Camden County’s Hayden Malson, 3-1 in the semifinals. Pollard’s second-place finish comes after having not made it to state as a sophomore.
Also reaching the podium for the Bulldogs included Rodney Winston, who brought home a fourth-place finish at 152 pounds. Makis Hill took home fifth at 182 pounds and Kaleb Walley at 195 and CJ McCollum both finished in sixth to round out the placers, good enough for a fifth-place team finish with 87 points, one spot away from a trophy.
Heritage’s one state placer, Yamon Carr, finished with a sixth-place finish at 145 while Eastside’s Austin Wilson finished third at 113 and Christion Curry finished fifth at 285. Wilson, who was defeated in just the second round of the tournament, battled back to finish in fifth, where he defeated Chestatee’s Bryan Ramos via pinfall.
The lone female competitor in the area, Newton’s India Page, finished in fifth place at 166 pounds.