JEFFERSON — The Dual State Championship for Georgia high school wrestling was created in 2002 and took place after the Traditional State Tournament. A year later it was moved to January to please the majority of teams, coaches and wrestling supporters.
This year, inclement weather has forced the Georgia High School Association to move the tournament back to its original time of year.
Due to icy conditions and treacherous roads, especially in the high elevation areas of North Georgia, the GHSA decided last week that it was in the best interest of the participating teams that the tournament be postponed to Feb. 25-26, a week after the traditional state meet at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
This means that Jefferson, the defending Class AA dual and traditional state champions, will have to defend each of its titles a week apart.
“It really puts us in a time crunch being a smaller school,” Jefferson coach Doug Thurmond said, in reference to many of the wrestlers taking part in spring sports. “With baseball and track starting up, it puts us at a disadvantage with bigger schools that might not have as many athletes competing in multiple sports.”
The Jefferson baseball team will have played two regular season games by the time the rescheduled state duals take place. The Jefferson track season begins March 3, leaving wrestlers less than a week to prepare for a new season in a different sport.
On the bright side of things, the delay of the state duals gives Thurmond and his team more time to prepare, rest up and recover from injuries.
“Hopefully we can use this as a chance to get healthy,” he said. “We’ve been battling the flu and have injuries with some of our key guys, so hopefully they will be ready to go when the time comes.”
The names of the injured wrestlers were not released, but Thurmond has confidence that they can potentially be healthy for both the traditional and dual state tournaments.
“My inclination tells me that they can be ready, and they certainly want to compete, so the delay has worked in their favor,” Thurmond said.
The Dragons are set to face Greater Atlanta Christian in the first round of the Class AA duals.
The postponement will also affect the location of the state duals, as the Macon Centreplex, the original venue, is not available for the new dates. Because of this, each classification will wrestle at a separate site.
According to Thurmond, his team will focus on what is now the closest task at hand, the traditional area and state title, but was quick to point out that his team will not lose focus of the team mentality.
“We can’t lose sight of the team aspect of the season. We’ll continue to develop the guys individually, but we are still focusing on looking at this as a team and not just individual efforts.”
For Thurmond, Mother Nature having a hand in the wrestling season isn’t a rarity, as the sectional tournament was cancelled last year due to a winter storm. A extra round was added to the state individual tournament to make up for the cancellation.
“I just hope that we don’t have something like this happen again,” he said. “Usually when you get a bad snow once, another is on its way, so we will just have to wait and see what happens.”
In the meantime, the Dragons are back on the mat and preparing to defend each of their titles.