VALDOSTA, Ga. – Darrell Rochester and Noah Pettigrew achieved All American status last week at the USMCJunior/16U USA Greco-Roman/Freestyle Nationals in Fargo, ND representing Team Georgia.
Rochester took 7th place at 16U Freestyle/100lbs, winning his last match by decision, 5-2, over Koy Buesgens of Team Minnesota. “To win a match at this tournament is an accomplishment in itself, but to place here is nothing short of an incredible achievement”, Coach Jason Griner stated, who was in Rochester’s corner throughout the tournament.
Rochester had advanced to the 3rd round of the Championship side of the bracket when he lost to Team Pennsylvania and was thrown into the Consolation side of the bracket, where he had to wrestle through 6 wrestlers to bring home 7th place. The wrestler he lost to did not place.
Pettigrew, the returning Freestyle National Champion from last year, lost a tough match to Team Indiana and had to wrestle back through 8 wrestlers, including his Team GA teammate, David Harper, in the Consolation Final, to bring home 3rd place in 16U Freestyle/195lbs.
“What Noah did was tougher than anyone can imagine. When you run that gauntlet all the way to the Consolation Final and win, you’ve more than proven yourself”, Coach Griner said, who was also in Pettigrew’s corner during his final match. “I was talking to a DI college coach after he won his Conso final and all he could remark on was how he was more impressed with this performance than he was with Noah’s National Championship last year.”
The USMC Junior/16U USA Greco-Roman/Freestyle National was the largest USA National on record with 5378 entries. Rochester and Pettigrew wrestled in the 16U division where 1253 wrestlers competed from 47 States. They were joined by 33 other 16U wrestlers that represented Team Georgia at the event.
In all, Team GA had 76 wrestlers competing in Junior, 16U and Women’s divisions across both styles. In fact, this was a historic year for Team Georgia, bringing home a total of 29 All Americans, including 4 National Champions in both styles. “This 16U team was particularly special, as they placed 4th as a team in Freestyle and 3rd in Greco-Roman. No team at any age level in the history of Team Georgia has ever placed higher or brought home more Stop Signs”, Coach Griner stated.
A “Stop Sign” is what wrestlers call the National Championship plaques they receive at this level due to their octagon shape. Rochester and Pettigrew were joined by other local wrestlers on the Team Georgia National Team, including LB Neloms, Cameron Bradley, Dominic DiTomasso, Andrew Adams, Cameron Jackson and Cecily Livingston, who competed in the Women’s Division.
Pettigrew, who wrestled at Valdosta High School and was a 2019 GHSA 6A State Folkstyle Champion, also represented Storm Wrestling Center in Perry, GA and will be attending Blair Academy in New Jersey next year. Rochester, Neloms, Bradley, DiTomasso, Adams, Jackson and Livingston also represented the SGAC Devil Dogs in Valdosta.
Neloms and Bradley are teammates with Rochester at Valdosta High, where Rochester was a 2019 GHSA 6A State Runner Up and Adams, DiTomasso and Jackson wrestle at Lowndes High. Livingston wrestles at Berrien High School and placed 3rd in the first-ever 2019 GHSA Girls State Championship.
SGAC is a local non-profit, USA Wrestling Affiliated Youth Wrestling program located at the Old Valdosta High School, providing training in Folkstyle, Greco-Roman and Freestyle Wrestling to boys and girls ages 4 and up.
For more information on how to get involved with USA Wrestling, contact SGAC Devil Dogs/Team GA Coach Jason Griner at 229-251-0264 or visit their Facebook page, SGAC Devil Dogs.