WAYNESBORO, Ga. — Burke County’s Chris Washington thought this promise would end like the others — one that saw good effort but not a golden finish.
Sometimes, it’s good to be wrong.
The Bears wrestler won the Class AAAA state title at 285 pounds during the state traditional meet this year to earn recognition as The Augusta Chronicle’s Wrestler of the Year.
“I thought I had lost at first,” Washington said. “He blew the whistle, and it dawned on me: ‘I’ve been doing this for five years, and I have yet to win a championship. I’ve made (coach Johnny Castro) a promise every year, that I’ll win for him.’ I thought I had lost and was disappointed, but the ref raised my hand and I cried.”
Washington, a senior, defeated Steven Wallace, of Marist, with a 7-5 decision.
Washington weighed only 235 pounds after he competed at 220 pounds the previous year. The change meant while he didn’t necessarily have the weight edge – “Them boys ain’t small!” he said about the 285 level with a laugh – he did have the quickness needed to win.
The wrestler, whose brother, Cornelius, was a senior on the University of Georgia football team last season, will attend the University of West Georgia for football. Washington was a linebacker for the Bears, who won a Class AAA state championship in 2011, and he used his participation in both football and wrestling to succeed.
In wrestling, balance and leverage are essential to win. On the gridiron, those areas help when he’s going downhill to make a tackle or to be strong in a stance.
The sports also helped him build endurance. All the work paid off when Washington won that state title in February.
The victory was for him and his coach – the unfulfilled promise – and it provided a moment that will never leave his memory.
“I made that promise a few years in a row, but we’d come short every year but this year,” Washington said. “That’s there forever. I was just amazed, in awe of what happened.”