‘Only thing’ wrestler wants is state title
by Chris Byess
cbyess@cherokeetribune.com
December 15, 2012 01:28 AM | 2379 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — After the 2011-12 season saw Blake Walker win the 106-pound Region 5AAAAA title, the Class AAAAA sectional and place third at state, the Cherokee wrestler achieved what many strive to accomplish in their four years of high school.

For Walker, it only took him until his sophomore year.

Now, as a junior, he feels that he has one thing left to accomplish — win a state championship.

“My goal this year is to win state,” said Walker, who’s now competing at 113 pounds. “It’s the only thing I have my mind focused on right now.”

Considering the start Walker has had to his season, contending for a state title is a goal that seems well within reach.

Though he has only wrestled five matches so far this year — all coming at 120 pounds — Walker is undefeated, with two of those wins coming in a championship march through the Creekview Invitational Tournament.

Other notable victories for Walker this year have come against two returning state-qualifiers — Woodstock’s Tristan Watson and Etowah’s Joey Payton.

While five matches may not be enough to fully gauge how far Walker can go this year, his 44-2 record from last season shows just how much he’s grown used to winning.

“That’s just normal for him,” Cherokee coach Lance Riccio said. “Blake always expects to succeed.”

Though winning a state title is his priority, Walker said he would also love to finish the regular season undefeated.

“I would love to accomplish that. It has always been a goal of mine,” he said of obtaining a perfect record. “It’s a big challenge, but I think it’s possible.”

When asked how he felt he had established himself as one of the top wrestlers in the state as an underclassmen, Walker credited the willingness he put in with extra work during the offseason.

For the last two years, Walker has attended the Super 32 national tournament, a competition that he considers to be one of the toughest in the nation. Both years, he returned with a winning record.

Walker has also wrestled for Team Georgia the past two summers, and he frequents a wrestling gym in Acworth almost every Sunday during the off season.

Not to only credit himself, Walker also praised the Cherokee coaching staff and the rest of his team for his success.

“I have partners in the wrestling room that really help me out a lot, and without coach Riccio, I wouldn’t have been successful,” Walker said. “Even the people I don’t drill with, they keep my head straight and keep me focused. They just encourage me to keep going.”

While Walker has set some lofty aspirations for himself this season, he isn’t the only one who believes he can achieve them.

“I think that he has the ability to win it all,” Riccio said. “He just has to make sure that he stays focused and sticks to his gameplan, and things will go his way. He definitely has the ability to get to the top of the podium.”
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