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Weather forces changes to Area 7-AAA wrestling duals
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Area 7-AAA Duals

West Forsyth High

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Cost: $7 per person

Seeding: No. 1 Gilmer, No. 2 West Forsyth, No. 3 Lumpkin County, No. 4 White County, No. 5 Flowery Branch

Last year’s winner: West Forsyth

State duals: The top two finishers at area advance to the state duals next weekend in Macon

Mother Nature has thrown a wrinkle into this weekend’s Area 7-AAA wrestling duals, but coaches from the 13 schools involved all know they’re in the same boat.

Due to the snow, and especially with travel logistics for the mountain schools in mind, coaches opted to try to squeeze the two-day tournament into a one-day event Saturday at West Forsyth High School in Cumming.

“It’s definitely going to be a draining day of wrestling,” Flowery Branch coach Shane Lancaster said.

Instead of wrestling the opening two rounds today, all five rounds and consolations are planned to be completed Saturday. To make this happen, wrestling will take place on four mats to speed up the process until it’s necessary to knock it down to two mats later in the day.

Wrestling will begin at 9 a.m. and coaches hope the finals will be ready to roll at approximately 4:30 p.m.

The one stipulation is that there is a five-match limit per Georgia High School Association rules, which could push the remainder of the tournament to Monday.

However, for that to come into being, one of the top two seeds (No. 1 Gilmer and No. 2 West Forsyth) would need to be upset early in the early rounds and by a lower seeded team.

“For Gilmer or West Forsyth to lose early would be unlikely,” Lancaster said.

Of course the Area 7-AAA tournament is more than just the two giants at the top. Seeds three through five (Lumpkin County, White County and Flowery Branch, respectively) are pretty tough, too.

To put the strength of Area 7-AAA into context, consider the fact Flowery Branch is this year’s Hall County champion, yet in an area comprised mostly by Hall County schools, the Falcons are walking in the door as a fifth seed. That’s a steep climb to reach the top two and earn a berth in next weekend’s state duals.

“This is a heck of a tough region,” West Forsyth coach Dennis Stromie said. “It’s a shame that only two can qualify for state.”

The seeding for this weekend’s top five was pretty clear cut.

Gilmer (32-1) is ranked No. 1 in the state and was the obvious No. 1 for the Area meet, too. Defending Area 7-AAA champion West Forsyth, in just its third season, defeated both No. 3 seed Lumpkin County and No. 4 White County in the opening week of the season, and Lumpkin gets the edge over White thanks to a head-to-head advantage.

Flowery Branch gets the No. 5 seed due to an early season loss to White County.

Of course, don’t assume that it will be a cakewalk into state for the top two seeds. According to Stromie, Nos. 3-5 in could put up quite a fight of their own should they advance to state.

“The top five from this area could place in the top eight at state,” Gilmer coach Sam Snider said.

Even though there is plenty of talent in 7-AAA, it would still be a surprise to most if the Bobcats didn’t walk away with the No. 1 spot after a disappointing runner-up area finish last season and 15th-place finish at state.

After losing to Lumpkin County in the area semifinals by one point last season, the Bobcats still went on to state after the Indians were flagged for a violation.

This year, Gilmer has left little to chance. The Bobcats’ season so far includes a win at the Amicalola Classic by 150 points, a 100-point victory in the Creekview Invitational and a win at the Rome Duals, as well as a win against top-five ranked Peachtree Ridge out of Class AAAAA. Gilmer’s only loss was by a 34-20 score against defending Class AA traditional and dual state champions Jefferson.

“We’ve had good athletes in our program,” Snider said. “The difference this season is that we got our unity and leadership right.

“There’s a lot of excitement with our program this season.”

Due to the coming region re-alignment this is likely the final time all these schools will wrestle under the same roof. Gilmer will stay in Region 7-AAA, which will become a predominately northwest Georgia region in the 2010-2011 school year. West Forsyth is moving up to Region 6-AAAAA.

Meanwhile, the Hall County schools in Region 7-AAA, minus Flowery Branch, will transition over to Region 8-AAA. The Falcons are moving up to 8-AAAA.

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