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Hulett wins state

For somebody who had not wrestled in three years, Hayden Hulett turned out to be pretty good at it.

The John Milledge Academy senior won the school’s first wrestling state championship since 2021 over the weekend, earning the crown as top 190-pound wrestler in the Georgia Independent Athletic Association (GIAA).

And he did it by exacting a little revenge. Hulett throughout the season lost twice to Gatewood senior Justin Jameson, once at the Trinity invitational tournament then again at region.

“I knew, more than likely, that I was going to see him again in the finals,” Hulett said.

That prediction turned out to be true Saturday inside the Storm Dome at Georgia Southwestern State University. Hulett and Jameson wrestled their way through Friday’s sectional to earn their places in Saturday’s state championship bracket. In their finals match, Jameson grabbed two quick points to take a 3-2 lead into the second period where he chose the bottom position. That’s when pre-match preparation and familiarity came into play.

“We knew he was going to run this move the coaches had been practicing with me all week,” said Hulett. “He did, so I jumped to the side and stuck him.”

Just like that, Hulett was a state champion for the second time his senior year. His first came in the fall as an offensive/defensive lineman on the Trojans’ now four-time defending state champion football team. Winning the wrestling title is a little different though. It’s an accomplishment Hulett can call all his own.

“It’s not a team sport,” he said. “It’s just you against him, so there’s nobody else out there to help you.”

“Words can’t even describe it,” added JMA wrestling head coach Chad Freeman. “It felt like three months’ worth of work had paid off in 30 seconds.”

Perhaps the success of Hulett, who was returning to the mat for the first time since he was an eighth-grader, can lead a resurgence of the John Milledge wrestling program. There were only two student-athletes on the team last year, but that number quadrupled in the 2022-23 season.

Also posting a strong finish at state was JMA sophomore Bradyn Jenkins while wrestling in the 215-pound weight division. He finished fifth overall in a GIAA sport that is separated out only by weight class, not by school size.

“He’s got a really bright future,” Freeman said of Jenkins. “To be honest, he was either going to win a state championship or finish in fifth. It was all about how the brackets fell. He’s super talented, so a state championship is definitely possible in his future.”

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