All four teams will be competing today and Saturday in their respective area tournaments to determine whether or not they will advance to the state dual meet in Macon next weekend.
“If you get into those top two slots then you move onto the state tournament, so it’s all coming to a head this weekend,” Cartersville wrestling coach Garvin Edwards said. “We’ve all been working hard and competed in a lot of dual meets against tough competition. We’ve been working in dual meets up to this point and a lot of six-day weeks, so everybody’s hoping to move on to states.”
The tournament is set up to have the top two teams representing each area in the state. If a team does not reach the state dual meet, then the duals season is over and the traditional, or individual, season begins.
“The two teams in the finals, if either of those teams didn’t beat you and you wrestle all the way through to third place, you can challenge the loser for the true second-place slot,” Edwards said of the tournament’s format.
Adairsville and Woodland are hosting their area meets. Cartersville is in the same area as Adairsville, so the Purple Hurricanes will wrestle close to home. Cass will travel to Gilmer, the defending state champion, for its area meet.
Two teams from each area will make the state dual meet.
In Class AAA, Area 2, there are 10 teams, including: Adairsville; Cartersville; Carver, Columbus; Central, Carrollton; Chapel Hill; Coahulla Creek; Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe; Ringgold; Rockmart; and Sonoraville.
According to Adairsville head coach Joey Harris, four or five schools will be battling for the top two spots.
“I feel like we can win the duals or place fifth,” Harris said. “I kind of feel like there’s four or five teams for sure that can wind up, if not winning it, in the top two.”
Sonoraville, Ringgold, Rockmart and Cartersville will be Adairsville’s top competition in the meet.
“There’s some really good competition in there,” Edwards said. “Adairsville has a good team; Rockmart has a good team; Ringgold always has a good dual team, so it’s going to be tough.”
Adairsville will have a bye in its first round and will face the winner of Coahulla Creek and Chapel Hill in the second round. Cartersville also has a bye and will face Ringgold in the second round.
Sonoraville is the favorite entering the tournament, but Harris likes his team’s chances of qualifying for the state duals.
“We’re coming along,” he said. “We’ve made some good progress and our lineup is shaping up. I feel like, if we wrestle well, we can qualify. If we don't wrestle well, we won't.”
Cartersville is hoping to sneak into the two seeds this year after a third-place finish in the tournament last year.
“Last year, we fought our way back after a loss to challenge for a true second place. We got beat by Rockmart in the last match and didn’t qualify, so we’re hoping to improve on that this year,” Edwards said.
The tournament begins at 3:30 p.m.
Along with Adairsville, the other team that is a second seed and host of its tournament is Woodland in Class AAAAA, Area 5. Allatoona defeated Woodland earlier in the season to earn the top seed, but Woodland now has a full lineup and could be considered the favorite.
“There’s probably three or four teams that could qualify,” Woodland head coach Adrian Tramutola said. “I’m expecting for us to win it like in every other tournament.”
The Wildcats have a bye and will wrestle the winner of New Manchester and Villa Rica in the second round.
Of the 11 teams in the area, the 3-seed, South Paulding, and the 4-seed, North Paulding, will likely be Woodland’s top competition, along with Allatoona, for the top two spots.
Woodland will begin at 6 p.m. at Woodland High.
In Class AAAA, Area 7, Gilmer reigns supreme as the powerhouse wrestling program in the state. However, the Colonels have wrestled well as of late and will be Gilmer’s toughest competition.
“We’re as prepared as we’re going to be at this point into it. We should be as close to full strength as possible,” Cass head coach D.L. Koontz said. “It will be the first time that all 14 are put together. I’ve had a 14-man lineup before, but these are actually going to be the full 14 that would normally make up the entire team.”
Gilmer is the top seed in the 11-team area, followed by Cass, LaFayette, Heritage and Northwest Whitfield. According to Koontz, LaFayette and Heritage are threats to take the area’s second invitation to the state tournament.
“Realistically, I think there’s four that could take the top two spots. LaFayette and Heritage have done pretty well. Northwest, I would say, but they have a younger team. We saw them earlier this year and they’re a bunch of freshmen and sophomores,” Koontz said.
The Colonels have a first-round bye and will meet the winner of the Ridgeland and Dalton match in the second round. If Cass moves on from there, the Colonels will wrestle the winner of LaFayette and Southeast Whitfield.
“I mean, at this point in time, everyone has done a lot of wrestling and you got to just let the kids go,” Koontz said. “They know what to do. They know all the moves. It doesn’t matter what team you’re on, it’s just a matter of who’s going to be less afraid to make a mistake and go after the glory, if you will.”