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Paradice returns, Packers win Mulligan Memorial

Jan. 21—MOULTRIE — Welcome back, Logan Paradice.

At last eligible for the 2023-2024 wrestling season, the former Colquitt County state champion won all five of his matches to help the Packers take last weekend's George Mulligan Memorial in Panama City, Fla.

The Packers had three weight-class winners in Paradice, at 150; Russell Flowers, at 157; and Turk Daniels at 285 to score 281.5 points and win the 30-team event.

Eric Henson, at 132, was second after dropping the first-place match in a 5-4 decision.

Gulf Breeze (Fla.) was a distant second with 215.5 points.

Region 1-7A opponent Valdosta also competed and was fourth with 168.5 points.

Paradice won the state championship at 132 pounds as a freshman in 2022, but did not wrestle at Colquitt County last year and was unable to participate in this season until Jan. 18.

"It's been frustrating for him, he's been chomping at the bit, but he's been in the room with us, helping with the other kids," coach Benjy Scarbor said.

And when Paradice was finally able to compete?

"He was on the attack," Scarbor said. "He got a lot of takedowns. I

"It's great to have him back in the lineup. He's an awesome kid and has an awesome family."

Paradice pinned his first three opponents in Panama City: Niceville's Sal Richhio, Tate's Roman Sison and Bay's Deven Bradshaw.

In the 150-pound semifinal, he defeated Valdosta's Caden Sapp with an 18-3 technical fall.

Paradice finished off his first competition of the season by taking a 24-9 technical fall over Fort Walton Beach's JJ Martinez, who has a 38-4 record this season.

Daniels was named the tournament's most outstanding wrestler after winning his first four bouts by pin and taking a 5-2 decision over Mosley's Logan McAlister in the first-place match.

Scarbor continues to rave about Daniels, the state runner-up at 285 last year.

"He's been my most valuable wrestler this year," Scarbor said of Daniels who is 37-3 this season. "He's a great teammate, always positive, outstanding character.

"He has a great work ethic and is a great representative of Colquitt County High School."

Flowers, in raising his season's record to 33-5, opened with two pins and a technical fall then took a 16-11 decision over Fort Walton Beach's Matthew Sinclair and won the first-place match with a 7-1 decision over Rocky Bayou Christian School's Clay Nelson.

Henson opened with a pin of Freeport's Jaden James and then took an 11-3 major decision over Crestview's Hunter Leavitt.

In the quarterfinal, the Colquitt County senior took a 10-4 decision over Bay's David Drake and then pinned Wewahitchka's Jake Parker in the semifinal.

Henson then dropped the 5-4 decision to Liberty County's Jay Brown in the first-place match.

The Packers also got third-place finishes from Billy Lawton at 138 and Randy Smith at 144.

Britton Marshall at 126 and Rafael King at 190 finished fourth.

The Packers went to Panama City after not finishing as one of the top two teams in the Region 1-7A duals and missing a berth in the state duals championships.

Camden County, which went on to edge Buford and win a 10th-straight state duals title, and Richmond Hill advanced from Region 1.

"It was disappointing because we felt like we were good enough to make it," Scarbor said. "We are better than that. and we had wrestled well the previous week (in the Packer Classic)."

Scarbor said it took his team two days to get over its region duals performance.

But the Packers wrestled well in Panama City.

"I was proud of how the kids performed," he said.

Scarbor said he is planning to take a group of his wrestlers to compete in Valdosta on Friday.

On Saturday, one group will go to Social Circle to compete in the Redskin Rumble and another will go to Cairo for the Syrupmaker Invitational.

Those events will be the final tuneups before the Region 1-7A traditional tournament, which will be held Saturday, Feb. 3, at Lowndes.

The top four finishers in each weight class will advance to the Feb. 10 Sectionals to be held at Valdosta, with the top six in each weight class then qualifying for the state tournament, scheduled for Feb. 15-17 in Macon.

"Getting through Sectionals will be key," Scarbor said. "There are a lot of quality kids in our Sectional."