North Hall wrestler Matthew Glenn knows exactly what to expect when it comes to this week’s state meet at the Macon Centreplex. In contrast to the more sparsely attended, more localized competitions held in high school gyms throughout the season, the traditional state championship is a bit of a production.
“It’s in a big arena,” Glenn said. “The stadium’s packed. It’s just so different. It’s such a big space. There’s so many mats, so many people. It’s not really nerve wracking, but it’s exciting.”
The nerves aren’t there for Glenn — a senior — this time around, and that’s largely thanks to his experience from a season ago. Glenn won it all in the 120-pound weight class then.
This year, he aims for his second straight individual state title, this time at 126.
“I was top dog last year, and it’s given me a chance to just go out and prove it this year,” he said. “Just show that winning it wasn’t a fluke and that I’m the best in my weight class.”
Glenn headlines a North Hall program that is sending 14 wrestlers to the individual state meet — more than any other school in Hall County.
The Trojans have enjoyed a good deal of success over the past few seasons, winning a state title as a team a year ago and finishing as runner ups to Jefferson this season. North Hall coach David Nichols said that experience will be extremely valuable to each member of his team at this year’s event.
“Our guys have a lot of experience in wrestling in that venue, in that environment,” he said. “Anytime you’re more familiar with the environment, that certainly helps you in your mental preparation.”
The traditional state meet provides a much different feel to the hundreds of competitors that come from around the state, 43 hailing from seven different Hall County schools.
Unlike the duals competitions teams went through during the regular season, the season’s final event gives athletes the chance to compete on a more individual level. The team’s will still travel together and be there to cheer each other on, but titles will be awarded to the top wrestler in each weight class, regardless of how their teammates fare.
“It’s an opportunity for them to be a little bit selfish,” Nichols said. “Obviously, there’s still a team score associated with this tournament. But we really feel like if each individual does what’s best for themselves, and they take care of themselves, then it ultimately ends up being better for the team.”
It’s also a good chance for athletes to grow as wrestlers, even if they don’t win it all.
Nichols said the way his team members respond to an early loss in the event can teach him a great deal about who they are as a competitor, and as a person.
“One of the great things about this tournament in building character is if you lose a matchup in the championship bracket, you cannot get first place,” Nichols said. “And so the character that’s built out of coming back and battling for those third and fifth place spots, those are lifelong lessons for our kids. I really hope that our character is strengthened through the tournament.”
North Hall’s participants will start things off with first-round bouts on Thursday, and champions will be crowned on Saturday.
It’s the last meet of the season for the team, and Glenn’s final chance to solidify his already accomplished legacy as a Trojan wrestler. And while that prospect would be daunting to some, Glenn doesn’t have any intention of letting it get to him.
“Personally I go out and wrestle like it’s another tournament,” he said. “It’s the same sport, same six minutes. So we’re just working hard, getting our weight down, staying focused and just doing what we’ve done all year.”
State qualifiers: Traditional state meet
Riverside Military Academy
Carter Sullivan 160 pounds; Shinkwang Moon (170); Wookdong Harry Kim (195); Caio Magalhaes (220)
Dawson Thompson 106 pounds Jacob Pedraza (113); Ali
Rogers (116); Cristian Contreras (120); Matthew Glenn (126); Jackson Whitmire (132); Hayden Cook (138); Ben Boyd (145); Cody Smith (152); Hunter Adams (160); Logan Hawthorne (182); Logan West (195); Seth Carlton (220); Bowie Eisenberg (285)
Annaleigh Whitfield 95 pounds; Ethan Powell (113); Cody Lee (120); Luis Garcia (126); Drew Highfield (138); Alivia Myers (146); Dylan Timms (152); Melissa Evans (156); Hunter Sunderman (160); Taylor Myers (182); Ray Grable (285).
Bryan Ramos 113 pounds; Pascual Velasquez (126); Caleb Carter (132); Chino Ortiz (170); Jeronimo Marin (182)
Kenley Chadwick 120 pounds; Colton Murphy (126); Chris Webb (138); Clay Anderson (195)
Skylar Yates 126 pounds; Gabriel Salut (220); Ricky Castillo (285)
JQ Malik (120); Cavazos Kendice (126)