Winning a State Championship requires teamwork, persistence and, every now and then, it doesn't hurt to have an All-American on the team. The Buford Wolves and the Commerce Tigers can certainly attest to that -- both teams just won their first state duals titles and were lead on the mat by All-Americans.
The Wolves and coach Rob Carlyle have built a team around six-time All-American Chip Ness that has accomplished more than any Buford wrestling team to date.
"When I accepted the job to coach at Buford I did so knowing I could build a team around Chip that would be successful," said Carlyle.
Coach Kendall Love and Commerce, meanwhile, take a tremendous amount of pride in the success of their season so far and are counting their blessings for having an All-American wrestler like Chance McClure on their team.
(To watch a video feature with the two wrestlers, simply click "play" in the box to the right.)
"Having a wrestler like Chance on your team is an absolutely blessing, he is an impactful leader and helps everyone on the team be better," Love said.
Both teams are looking ahead to the February 13-15 State Traditionals with the hopes of making history again and bringing home yet another state title.
"I like to set a goal of five state champs, it's a nice round number," Ness states.
"This year's team has the talent to win it all, our mentality is we hate to loss," said McClure.
The list of accolades for the two All-Americans is lengthy enough to comprise a small novel.
-- 1st Buford High School Wrestler to sign with a NCAA Division 1 school (University of North Carolina)
-- Ranked No. 2 in the country at 195 lbs.
-- Three times State Champion
-- 2013 Super 32 Champion
-- 2012 Flo Nationals Freestyle Runner-up
-- 2011 NHSCA National Champion
-- Six times All-American
-- Signed a letter of intent to wrestle at University of Virginia
-- Three time state champion, once at 195 pounds and twice at 220 pounds
-- Ranked No. 3 in the country at 220 pounds
-- 2013 Fargo Cadet and Junior Greco National Champion
-- 7th at 2013 Fargo Cadet and Junior Freestyle Championships
-- 2013 NHSCA National Champion
If you are wondering if the two standout wrestlers know each other, they most certainly do. As a matter of fact they are good friends, chat often and train together at The Wrestling Academy in Lawrenceville.
"I know that I can text Chance any given day and ask him to meet at the academy and he will be there," said Ness.
The matches between the two at The Wrestling Academy are known to get pretty heated.
"There are literally holes in the wall at the Academy from me and Chip going at each other," McClure said.
However, no matter how heated the matches get they both say that they view each other as mentors and use each other as motivation to become the best in the nation. And with these two wrestlers that is well within the realm of possibility.
Perhaps, what distinguishes these two young men from the rest is their determination to accomplish every goal they set for themselves.
"[In college] I'd like to be a four-time All-American and a two-time national champion," said Ness.
"I'd like to go into college and win a national title my first year, I don't have any reason not to," McClure said.
With both Ness and McClure heading off to nationally-ranked collegiate programs next year (McClure at the University of Virginia and Ness at the University of North Carolina) the two unprecedented prep All-Americans will once again surely be in the national spotlight.
The success of teams like the Buford Wolves and the Commerce Tigers speaks volumes to the emerging productivity of the sport of wrestling throughout the state of Georgia.