The Hall County Wrestling Championships are officially upon us as wrestling programs from around the area eagerly await the opportunity to prove themselves to their peers.
The event has become a sign of the beginning of the wrestling season — a chance for athletes from all of Hall County’s schools to show off the results of the weeks previous spent in the weight room and training gym.
This year’s tournament will be held at Johnson High on Friday and Saturday.
“The kids are wrestling against guys they’ve grown up with,” Johnson coach Chad Cole said. “It’s just a unique opportunity for all these local guys who have grown up with each other to kind of test their mettle against each other.”
Cole said this particular event is always special for his athletes, but getting to play host makes this year a source of particular excitement.
Though it’s come with significantly more work than a typical year, Cole said volunteers and support offered from all other participating teams — such as lending mats to make sure there are enough to go around — has helped the school to become as ready as possible for guests this weekend.
“Essentially you just want to make sure it runs smoothly, it runs efficiently, and no one goes home with hurt feelings because of any kind of screwups that happen,” Cole said. “As the host team, you just want to make sure you put on a good tournament and everybody leaves feeling like they got a lot of good wrestling time in without any kind of hiccups along the way.”
While the tournament is almost always competitive, the defending champion North Hall comes into the event as favorites to repeat with another county title.
After coming up just short of a state championship last season, the Trojans once again begin the year as one of the strongest programs in the state thanks to a large contingent of returning athletes. And while they will certainly be eyeing finishing off the state title this time around, the North Hall wrestlers still have a special fondness for getting to compete against other local programs at the Hall County tournament — particularly considering all the out of state events the team regularly travels to during the season.
“We always enjoy wrestling in the Hall County tournament,” North Hall coach David Nichols said. “All these kids grew up together, competing against each other. It’s just nice to all come together and have this event. We take great pride in competing in it and having a chance to win it. The tournament is usually competitive year to year. There’s a lot of good coaches in the county, a lot of good programs. It’s always something we look forward to.”
As usual, the county-wide event will provide a measuring stick for all participating teams to gauge how competitive they might be in the coming season.
And while there can be only one ultimate winner every year, Hall County’s teams will all embrace the chance to show off to childhood friends and rivals exactly how hard they’ve been working this offseason.
“I don’t really know if we’re strong enough to beat everybody, but that’s always the goal, to go out there and test our mettle against others, see where we’re at,” Cole said. “But if all my guys are trying hard and they’re working hard and they’re taking risks to try to be successful, that’s all I can ask them to do. The results take care of themselves after that.”