Photo Illustration: Jason Braverman
When it comes to nicknames, Bazell Partridge doesn't have the most intimidating one. Especially in the sport of wrestling where athletes are known for being strong, tough and intimidating.
The Collins Hill wrestler is known around the state as Pooh. As in Winnie the Pooh, the fictional children's book character. Not exactly a tough name for one of the state's top wrestlers.
"No, it's not that intimidating, but his dad calls him Poohby and that's even worse," Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos said.
No matter what his name is, the results have been the same -- wins, and lots of them. Partridge rolled up a 53-4 record last season and dominated at the state tournament. He won the Class AAAAA 103-pound state championship last season as fans cheered loudly for Pooh.
"When I was 4, I went over to my cousin's house and we were watching Winnie the Pooh," Partridge said. "After a while she said I looked like Winnie the Pooh. My cousin started calling me it, then my mom and dad and then my friends started calling me it."
Ever since then, the nickname stuck. So has Partridge's dominance in Georgia wrestling. Partridge was one of the top wrestlers in the youth ranks growing up. He was a four-time kids state champion and placed high at Tulsa Nationals.
"He's been wrestling almost his whole life," Ramos said. "I remember watching him when he was a little kid and he looked like a little, tiny worm. You could tell he was good."
Partridge wrestled on the junior varsity as a 90-pound freshman, posting an 8-1 record on the varsity. He blossomed as a sophomore, placing fifth at the Midwest Classic in Kansas City, Mo. It wasn't until after The Clash, one of the toughest dual tournaments in the country, that Partridge really began to shine. He won his last 27 matches of the season, 17 coming by pin.
"Last year he was doing really well, but he wasn't looking great until probably the time we got to The Clash after Christmas and then it clicked with him and he picked it up," Ramos said. "He didn't lose again. He lost one match at The Clash and he didn't lose again after that. He was beating guys worse than at the beginning."
Partridge cruised through the Region 7-AAAAA tournament and the state sectionals. He saved his best performance for the state tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. Partridge won by pin in his first three matches at state and then used a 13-1 victory over Camden County's Austin Trott win the state title. He allowed one point during the state tournament.
"I think he might have been the most dominating state champion last year," Ramos said. "I know they might say in other classes guys pinned their way through, but we're talking about AAAAA and he had one point scored on him the whole state tournament and that was in the finals. It was 13-1 and that was his closest match."
Partridge wants to go undefeated this season, which will be tough considering another strong out-of-state schedule for the Eagles. He's expected to face several wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in the country this season. A couple of wins over nationally ranked wrestlers will get people asking, "Who is Pooh?"
"He's a real quiet guy, but he can be explosive and he's really learned how to drill real well," Ramos said. "He could be a little better on his feet and on top and on bottom. I think if he gets better on bottom he's going to be really hard to beat this year."
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