LAGRANGE – When Gary Silva called a pin, he left no doubt.
Silva, who was a long-time wrestling referee in the area, had a way of calling a pin that was all his own.
Silva would leap into the air, and he’d land on the mat and slam his hand down, and the sound would carry throughout the gym.
Sadly, Silva died in 2012 at the age of 49, and as a way to honor him, LaGrange High wrestling coach Scooter Weathers decided to name a tournament after him.
LaGrange has been hosting a tournament after Christmas for years, and following Silva’s death in the spring of 2012, Weathers decided to change the name of the event.
“We changed the name of it that wrestling season that came around,” Weathers said. “At the funeral I talked to his family, and his wife, and she was really happy that we were going to do that. We did, and it’s been good. Everybody in the wrestling community liked him, everybody knew him, and appreciated him, and knew what a great man he was.”
Weathers said Silva loved the sport, and that he took great joy in helping the wrestlers he spent so much time around.
“The kids loved him,” Weathers said. “There were a lot of teenagers’ lives that he touched just by him refereeing, and talking to them, and associating with them. They don’t make them like that very often. He was a special person.”
The Gary Silva Invitational, as the tournament has come to be known, will return this week.
The two-day tournament will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday at Gardner Newman Middle School, with the action set to get under way at 9 a.m. each day.
The host LaGrange Grangers along with the Callaway Cavaliers will be among the 16 teams participating.
Troup’s wrestling team, meanwhile, will be on the road this week for the Fayette County Christmas Classic that will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Among the 16 teams competing in the Silva tournament will be Leeds High, which is a powerhouse on the Alabama wrestling scene.
“They’re the two-time defending state champs in Alabama,” Weathers said.
As for his team, Weathers said things are starting to come together, with many of his wrestlers ready to settle into their ideal weight division.
“We’re getting there,” Weathers said after Sunday’s practice session. “The weights today were really good. We’re going to have two of them fall in place Tuesday.”
Leading the way for LaGrange is senior Guy Wegienka, who has won two consecutive tournaments.
After bringing home a first-place medal from the Chattahoochee River Wrestling Association tournament, Wegienka made it two in a row by winning the 195-pound division in the Hardaway Invitational.
“He’s in a zone right now,” Weathers said. “He’s wrestling better than anyone on the team right now. He is having a great season right now.”
After the Silva tournament, LaGrange will host a junior-varsity meet on Jan. 6 before participating in the area duals on Jan. 8 at Starr’s Mill.
That will begin a busy stretch for the Grangers that will culminate with the traditional state finals on Feb. 11.
“It’s a meat-grinder,” Weathers said. “The last month is tough. You just have to get through it.”
Troup, after going 6-3 in the Dariel Daniel Grind last week, will have a busy stretch this week.
After the Fayette County tournament on Tuesday and Wednesday, Troup will turn around and compete in the Ola Duals on Saturday.
That will serve as a tuneup for the area duals that will be held Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 at Woodward Academy.
Troup has had a nice run in traditional tournaments of late.
At the CRWA tournament, Troup finished second and had nine placers, including tournament champion Jeremiah McClendon.
Then at a tournament at Whitewater, Troup had five placers, including Steven McClendon, who finished first.
Callaway’s wrestling team will return to the mat this week for the first time since competing in the Hardaway Invitational on Dec. 19.
Sophomore Justin Kiss, who won the CRWA tournament and the Hardaway Invitational, will be looking to make it three victories in a row this week.
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
LaGrange – Tuesday and Wednesday in the Gary Silva Invitational at Gardner Newman
Callaway – Tuesday and Wednesday in the Gary Silva Invitational at Gardner Newman
Troup – Tuesday and Wednesday at Fayette County Christmas Classic/Saturday at Ola Duals
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports