The Bremen High School senior capped off his amazing Blue Devil career with a dominating, 54-0 showing this season en route to a third consecutive individual state championship, becoming the first heavyweight in state history to reach the state finals in all four years of his prep career.
This past Sunday, Bexley was honored with a selection to the Georgia Wrestling Coaches Association Dream Team — ranking him as the top heavyweight across all six classifications — at the annual GNWA Award Show in Atlanta.
“I tried to get him in there for Senior of the Year, because they take the four-timers and they already get a special award. I wasn’t really thinking about that. But Joe is the first four-time state finalist at heavyweight and has won it three times,” Bremen wrestling coach Tony Armas said. “He’s only the second person I’ve ever had that has gone undefeated for a season.”
Bexley immediately emerged on the state scene as a freshman, earning runner-up honors in Class A that year. And while it was an impressive performance for a freshman, Armas recalls his young star enduring some early growing pains at the high school level.
“His freshman year he came in and he had to figure out how to wrestle a little bit smarter. He lost like six matches in a row at one point and he just couldn’t quite figure out how to win matches,” Armas said.
And while there was a learning curve, it didn’t take long for Bexley’s reputation as one of the state’s rising stars to spread throughout not only Georgia, but the entire Southeast.
The Blue Devil coach pinpointed a strong tournament effort at one of the more top-level invitationals his team took part in that year where Bexley finished third as boosting his confidence and pushing him in the right direction. After recording the second-place finish and helping the team sweep the Class A traditional and state crowns, Bexley would place second at nationals to University of Illinois commit Brooks Black, who is currently the second-ranked heavyweight in the country.
Bexley came back even stronger during his sophomore year and only lost one match that season while winning his first state title for the Blue Devils, helping the team sweep the dual and traditional state championships once again.
The multi-sport star’s only loss as a sophomore came against Henry County’s Dalvin Tomlinson, who went on to become the state’s first three-time state heavyweight champion — Bexley has since joined him in that elite club — and later signed a football scholarship at the University of Alabama.
The summer following his sophomore season, Bexley won a national title and went on to lead the Blue Devils to a fourth straight Class A traditional state title, along with a third-place showing in the state duals. As an individual, Bexley claimed his second consecutive heavyweight title as a junior.
This past season, Bexley enjoyed his most dominating performance, never being threatened throughout the year, including recording three pins at state for his third consecutive crown.
For his career, Bexley was part of three traditional team titles, two dual titles, along with a third-place dual finish in Class A and runner-up showings upon moving to Class AA this year in both the dual and traditional formats. Of course, his individual achievements speak for themselves as one of the most dominant and athletic big men to ever compete in Georgia — across any classification.
Armas said there were a few guys that could make the score look respectable against his mild-mannered heavyweight this year, but nobody that actually gave Bexley a true scare.
“People could keep a match close with him, but in terms of actually trying to win the match and when people actually tried to beat him and tried to wrestle him, they were in a lot of trouble. He usually handled them if they did that,” Armas said. “But if they just wanted to keep it close, they could do that. I don’t think there was ever a threat for him to get beat this year.”
After closing an impressive prep chapter to his wrestling career, Bexley is now preparing to take his unique package of power, size and athleticism to the next level, having committed to The Citadel.
“Their heavyweight’s a senior this year and they have a very good upperweight coach, so I think he will be in good hands there,” Armas said.