Jan. 1-2 Hall County duals Flowery Branch High
Jan. 8-9 Area 7-AAA duals West Forsyth High
Jan. 15-16 Class AAA state duals Macon Centreplex
Feb. 12-13 Class AAA state sectionals Locust Grove High
Feb. 12-13 Class AA state sectionals Jefferson High
Feb. 19-20 State championships Gwinnett Arena
Jefferson’s wrestling accomplishments during the first decade of the century read like a typo, but it is no mistake.
The Dragons reeled off 17 state titles (nine traditional titles, eight duals titles) from 2000-2009. Now the question becomes, what will the Jefferson wrestlers have up their sleeves in the first year of the newest decade?
“We certainly hope we’re going to be in good shape, but we’re really not going to know until we get all the guys back from football,” Jefferson coach Doug Thurmond said.
From the sounds of things, it could be another banner season for the Dragons.
Jefferson returns 2009 state champion Cason Thurmond (103 pounds) and 2008 state champion Lucas Redd. It also returns 2009 state placers Daniel Barber, Cutler Finch, Cain Finch, Wayne Elliot, Zach Allen and Forrest Przybysz to the mat.
In Area 7-AAA, Flowery Branch should certainly be considered a legitimate threat to challenge West Forsyth, last year’s champion, for the area’s top spot. The Falcons are led by senior Danny Bell, who captured the Class AAA state title last season at 119, and will either grapple at 119 or 125 this season, says Falcons coach Shane Lancaster.
“I think if Danny can repeat as a state champion this year, it will be an even bigger accomplishment,” Lancaster said. “Just looking around the state, there is really good wrestling at 119 and 125.”
Hall County champion and state placer Brandon Dyer (130) along with Nate Amos and Chris Amos are also seniors that Lancaster thinks will have solid seasons for Flowery Branch.
Lancaster says that the Falcons also have a good junior class, led by Zach Cannon and Adam Wellborn.
The story in Area 7-AAA will be which school can get the most out of its key wrestlers. According to Lancaster, each school has at least “five or six” strong wrestlers. How those wrestlers match up and compete against the best in their respective weight class will decide the area titles for teams and individuals.
Wrestling in Area 7-AAA is also a battle against the odds. It is the area with the most schools in the state and more ranked programs that any other area in the state. Therefore, the only four spots to state in each weight class will, in turn, keep some quality wrestlers from advancing to the state finals in Macon.
North Hall coach Jay Hargis believes his Trojans have a shot at a turnaround this season. He’ll be counting on seniors Nick Quinn, Wesley Adams, Colby McClain and Stephen Flanagan, and juniors Shane Doster, Cody Wilsdon, John Anderson and Lee Sisson.
“Nobody is thinking about North Hall as a top team, and we aren’t until we prove ourselves,” Hargis said. “But I can tell you that the top teams will know that they’ve had a tough match.”
At Jackson County, defending state champion Ryan Howe (189) and Izzy Carrillo-Garcia (fifth in state at 135) both return for a Panthers squad that only lost two wrestlers from last season. Jackson County also returns sophomore Tre’ Horton and Charles Smothers, both state qualifiers from last season.
Zach Moore, DJ Ledford, Ryan Shekey and Jamari Davis all return after qualifying for sectionals last season.
“I look for us to have a lot of talent and experience in the starting line-up this year, especially in our upper weight classes,” Jackson County coach Jason Powers said. “This will be my first year as head coach when we will have some very competitive wrestle-offs, which means our program is beginning to get to the level it needs to be at.”
The first major meet of the season locally is the Hall County Duals held from Jan. 1-2 at Flowery Branch, and the Area 7-AAA Duals on Jan. 8-9 at West Forsyth.
The state duals for all classifications are Jan. 15-16 at the Macon Centreplex. The traditional state championships are Feb. 19-20 at the Gwinnett Arena.