Rosario will suit up next year for coach Jake Brumbelow, who knows a thing or two about wrestling in the county.
“I wrestled at Woodland High School 10 years ago. Since then, I’ve been gone wrestling and coaching wrestling,” Brumbelow said. “I know the potential we have in this state … and Bartow County does have talent and it’s untapped.”
There will be 40 wrestlers on the Barons team next season, and Brumbelow thinks Rosario can excel as a collegian.
“I watched him at practice. He has great character. You can turn your back, and you know he’s doing what he’s supposed to do,” the coach said. “He knows how to win close matches, and [he’s] smart in the classroom. [He’s] quiet, disciplined. He’s kind of well-rounded. … [Student-athletes] have to have that kind of balance to handle the rigors of college.”
Cass coach D.L. Koontz also believes Rosario will have little trouble wrestling as a collegian.
“I think it’s great that he chose to continue on with wrestling, not just go on with his education. … He’s pretty much ready for that college style ’cause he just wants to get in there and scrap anyways and just keep pounding until he gets his opportunity. That’s exactly what college coaches are looking for, so he’ll fit in very, very well right away,” Koontz said. “For him, I think it’s the beginning of something real special. It’s great as a coach because we’ve had a lot of talented kids come through here, and they may go for a semester but then they don’t continue on or they get burned out of wrestling. They stop wrestling. With Sammy, he’s got a true love for it.
“Since he was a freshman, he always wanted to go to college and wrestle. He did what he was supposed to in the classroom and obviously he’s done what he’s supposed to on the mat to get there. And he’s very fortunate to be in the inaugural class with some great kids that’ve already been named and have a great hometown, Georgia coach as well. It’ll be exciting to watch him for the next four years and see how he does.”
Rosario mentioned that inaugural class of Brewton-Parker wrestlers as one of the reasons he chose to attend the school.
“It was a school I wanted to go to because [there] was a good coach, and I have a lot of my wrestling buddies from Team Georgia going,” he said. “[I’m] wanting to start new things there, make accomplishments there — have a team we can build.”
The Colonels’ 120-pounder will serve as a great building block for the Barons’ program. In his high school career, Rosario has won 131 of 152 matches (with 61 pins), including a 38-3 mark this year.
Rosario has won the Crossbone Classic at East Paulding and the Area 7-AAAA traditional tournament twice; the Lambert Invitational and Class AAAA West Sectional once; and placed third in state last season — not to mention a fourth-place state finish as a sophomore.
He wants more this year, namely a state championship. Rosario hopes to be “standing at the top of the podium at the end of the year, with the big bracket,” he said.
“He wants to be at the top of the podium,” Koontz said, reiterating his senior’s chief goal for this season. “He has been working all year for it. He’s been doing what he’s supposed to, done a good job maintaining his weight and his body … [He’s] taking care of his little bumps and bruises that he’s gotten along the way to where he’s at full strength. And this will be a little different from his previous two times down there where he placed but he was really having a hard time with the weight. All yearlong he’s been right there where he’s supposed to be a day or two before [a tournament]. I’m really excited to see what he’s gonna do this tournament.”
Rosario wrestles at this weekend’s Class AAAA West Sectional at Northside-Columbus. With a top-eight finish, he would move on to the state tournament at The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, where he has placed the last two years.