Northeast Georgia will be well-represented at Friday’s traditional wrestling state semifinals.
Seven Jefferson wrestlers advanced in the Class AAA bracket during the opening rounds on Thursday at the Macon Centreplex in Macon: Dawson Bates (106), Mitchell McGhee (113), Ben Kelly (120), Tanner Thurmond (132), Chase Piperato (145), Will Ballard (152) and Caleb Little (182).
McGhee and Thurmond are both one of three area wrestlers to reach the semifinals in their respective brackets.
Jackson County’s Luke Gonzalez and Lumpkin County’s Logan Brown are set to square off opposite McGhee on the other side of the 113-pound bracket, while Jackson County’s Connor Crump and Banks County’s Dylan Suttles will meet opposite Thurmond on the other side of the 132-pound bracket.
Brian Carranza (120) also reached the semis for Jackson County, along with Chris McCrackin (126) for Banks County.
Four other Lumpkin County wrestlers are alive in the semifinals: Greg Hilliard (145), Conner Heriot (152), Eddie Daniel (182) and Victor Ramos (285).
West Hall’s Elliott Raiford (160), the 2014 state runner-up, was the program’s lone wrestler to reach the semifinals but did so in style, winning each of his first two matches by pinfall.
Dawson County’s Gavin Brown (195), a two-time state champion, also advanced to the semifinals.
In Class AAAA, Buford and North Hall pushed three wrestlers on to the semifinals apiece. Darius Bunch (126), Jack Barber (132) and Trent Ferguson (138) advanced for the Wolves, while Michael Carew (145), Isaiah Hale (170) and Darrien Ingram (195) moved forward for the Trojans.
Two Chestatee wrestlers advanced to the semis — Marvin Cunningham (138) and Matthew McLellan (145) — while White County’s Andrew Poston (220) also reached the final four.
Buford’s Ferguson and Chestatee’s Cunningham are on opposite sides of the bracket and would advance to face each other in the title match if they each win their 138-pound semifinal. The same is true of North Hall’s Carew and Chestatee’s McLellan in the 145-pound bracket.
Flowery Branch’s Brady Dyer (145) and Gainesville’s Kash Jones (220) were the only area wrestlers to reach the semifinals in Class AAAAA.
The Class A and Class AA state tournaments will also begin Friday.