Greg Cordle can't talk about the area championship without a big smile coming over his face.
The senior helped Brookwood claim the program's first Area 8-AAAAA title on Saturday to earn a spot in this weekend's dual state tournament in Macon.
"It finally sunk in," Cordle said. "It didn't at first, but when it did, it was pretty sweet."
Brookwood defeated Grayson in the area finals and it was Cordle that got things rolling for the Broncos in the 39-22 win.
"He's a motivational leader for everyone," Brookwood coach Chris Cicora said.
The fact that Cordle is even able to wrestle is a surprise after an injury five years ago nearly ended his athletic career.
Cordle was a baseball catcher in eighth grade and a collision at home plate ended his baseball career when a base runner cleated Cordle in the right leg, snapping it in three places.
The first surgery put eight screws and a metal plate in his leg. The next surgery removed the metal, but a third surgery was required after his leg got infected.
The result was an eight-inch scar between his ankle to knee.
"It was rough. That was my last baseball game ever," Cordle said. "It's a big ol' scare. It gets banged up every now and then. It still hurts if I get hit and it's easy to bruise."
Cordle still feels some occasional pain in his leg from the surgeries and he doesn't have a lot of flexibility because of the injury. But that was just the first of his setbacks.
Cordle missed his freshman year of wrestling as he recovered from the leg surgery. He came back strong as a sophomore and was one of the Broncos' top wrestlers last year with a 30-15 record.
Then he got a skin condition on his forehead and had to miss the traditional area and state tournaments.
That's why when Cordle is asked about the area title Brookwood won, he can't help but smile.
"It definitely makes me work harder because I didn't get that experience last year. We didn't go to team state, I didn't go to individual because of my infection," Cordle said. "It definitely makes me want to work a little bit harder and make this year a little better to make up for it."
He started the season 5-0, placed second at the Brookwood Invitational and was fourth at the Gwinnett County tournament. He began the season wrestling at 160 pounds, but now wrestles at 152 and holds a 27-6 record with 15 pins.
"The kid will wrestle kids that are ranked top six in the state and be right there head-to-head with all of them," Cicora said.
Cordle would love to qualify for the individual state tournament, but that's a month away. Right now he's focused on helping Brookwood build one of the top wrestling programs in the county.
"We definitely want to place and try and get in the top eight (at state)," Cordle said. "We won't be satisfied with anything else."
It's that mentality that pushed his through his recovery from leg surgery five years ago and has made him determined to finish his senior season strong.
"He's pushed through the challenges that have been posed to him," Cicora said. "He's been faced with a lot of challenges and overcome adversity and really pushed through it. It's tough for young kids to push through it and because he has, he deserves it."