CONYERS - One of if not the most prestigious wrestling resumes in Rockdale County history belongs to Salem's Peter Yates.
Yates, a senior, has had an impressive first three years on the mat.
He won his first state championship as a freshman before finishing as the state runner-up as a sophomore. Yates then went a perfect 51-0 last season en route to his second state championship.
But that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Yates recently signed a national letter of intent to wrestle next year with the Virginia Tech Hokies in Blacksburg, Va.
Yates said the decision to sign with Virginia Tech culminated from many aspects, but in the end, it came down to the caliber of the wrestling program, the school itself and the amount of scholarship money.
"They gave me a good offer, so it would be affordable for me and my family," Yates said. "The wrestling was very good. They have a brand new staff, and a new program that looks like it's going in the right direction. Academically, it looks like a good school. And that was really the three things - the money, the wrestling and the school itself.
"It was also closer to home than some of the other schools I was looking at. They saw me wrestle at a wrestling camp, then they saw me wrestle up at the Junior Duals. They were really the first people to talk to me. Right off the bat, I really liked the coaches. After I placed seventh at Fargo (Junior National Freestyles), they set up an official visit. I've visited some other schools, too, I just liked Virginia Tech the best - academically and athletically."
Yates has come a long way over the years. He wrestled his first national tournament in sixth grade. Earlier this month, he finished first in the Beast of the East, a national wrestling tournament in Delaware.
"That's probably been my biggest accomplishment so far," Yates said.
Yates said the secret to his success has been his work ethic and his passion for the sport.
"I've been doing it forever. I like it, I love it and I work hard at it," he said. "I think the thing is a lot of guys wrestle, but they don't really have their heart in it. They don't enjoy it, they just do it. I love it, it's my passion and it's what I do. I do it all year long.
"The thing that I think I'm looking forward to the most is just being in the college wrestling room. The head coach (Kevin Dresser) is an NCAAA champ. The assistant coach is an NCAA runner-up and the heavyweight coach is currently ranked third in the nation at the senior level. It's a great staff and I'm going to be there with them every day; that's what I'm looking forward to the most. For me, it all comes down to putting in the work. You get out of it what you put into it."
Yates is undefeated this season and is vying for his third state championship.
Brandon Evans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.