The Wrestling Traditional State Championships return to the Macon Centreplex to crown seven classifications of state champs for the first time. The seven schools that outclass their competition and take home traditional state titles will rely on team depth and the individual prowess needed to stack up points necessary to score the sought-after traditional title. Within the rivalries and powerhouse programs’ battle for state bragging are an all-time high in individual titles being handed out. The fourteen weight classes in seven different classifications will see 98 individual wrestlers leave Macon as state champs in their respective weight classes.
In Class 7A, Camden County rides the momentum of a 50-15 state title victory over Archer in the dual state championship just four weeks ago. The Wildcats’ put an end to Archer’s four-year run of capturing the dual state title in Georgia’s highest classification and are on pace to end the Tigers’ four-year run in the traditional state championship this weekend. Camden County has won the last two traditional state titles in Class 5A, and after sweeping the sectionals by qualifying a wrestler in all 14 classifications, waits right on track to celebrate their three-peat in the newly formed Class 7A. Archer brings 11 wrestlers to the state competition, while East Coweta will be represented in 12 of the weight classes. Camden County’s Antonio Stewart puts his 38-0 record on the line in the 195-pound class, while Sangobunmi Smith headlines the 170-pound class with a 38-0 record. This Wildcats team has the experience and depth to potentially run away with the title.
Class 6A’s focus sharpens around the Alexander Cougars, which captured their first wrestling state title since 2010 in last month’s duals. After edging a talented Pope team 38-33, the Cougars scored a 37-28 victory over South Paulding to clinch the crown. Alexander qualified a dozen wrestlers as the school looks to clinch its first-ever sweep of wrestling state titles. Pope and South Paulding will rely on lineups of 10 state qualifiers. Deandre Burton (152), Nelson Little (145) and London Dubroc (113) are the strength of the Alexander lineup and will be key in getting the Cougars off to the fast start they will need in order to weather the storm in the upper weight classes.
In Class 5A, Buford topped Woodland-Cartersville for its first dual state title since 2014 last month. Union Grove outscored Clarke Central 53-15 in the semifinals of the consolation bracket and then topped Cass 43-29 to clinch third-place. Buford holds a significant advantage over the field after the Wolves swept the sectionals and filled all 14 weight classes with state qualifiers. Woodland-Cartersville (11), Clarke Central (11) and Union Grove (9) also have the manpower to push for a title run, but there is little to no room for error.
The biggest storyline in Class 4A will be a familiar one as Jefferson, the state’s most decorated wrestling program, competes for its 17th consecutive traditional title. The Dragons defeated Gilmer 35-28 to capture their 16th straight dual state title last month. Class 4A opponent Gilmer’s streak of seven straight dual state titles was snapped in the Dragons’ first year of arrival in Class 4A and its streak of four-straight traditional state titles will also be on the line against the persistent Dragons this weekend. Jefferson will be represented in 12-of-14 weight classes this weekend, while Gilmer brings 11 wrestlers to Macon. Gilmer’s run to the Class 4A traditional title is worth noting, despite the Bobcats not having to navigate past Jefferson. The Bobcats’ title came with a 152.5-point victory over North Hall (141.0) and Buford (124.5). Lucas Patterson (132), Matthew Waddell (182) and Levi Seabolt (285) repeated as individual champions and senior Albert Perez scored a 5-4 decision over Madison County’s Cody Bond for the 120-pound title. Seabolt and Waddell return to their same weight classes to lead Gilmer once again.
RACE FOR STATE
Class 3A was highly competitive in the duals last month, but Bremen has a significant advantage in numbers heading into the traditional tournament. Bremen survived a 34-33 match in the semifinals over Jackson County and then took the Class 3A dual title with a 36-21 win over Lumpkin County. Jackson County, which fell just a point short to the state champs faced Sonoraville in the consolation finals and fell 31-29 to the Phoenix. Bremen is entering the state tournament with 12 wrestlers, while Jackson County is represented with just six. Nine individuals lead Lumpkin County and Sonoraville boasts a team of seven.
Social Circle aims for the program’s third straight sweep of titles in Class 2A. The Redskins completed their three-peat in Class 2A duals with a 35-24 win over Toombs County. Fitzgerald fell 39-24 to Social Circle in the semifinals before taking third-place with a 58-20 rout over Pepperell. Social Circle qualified 12 wrestlers, while Toombs County (9) and Fitzgerald (8) take on the field with single digits. Levi Leach (126), Travis Tyson (132), James Corasaniti (138), Reid Harris (145), Cameron Paschal (182) and David Engstrom (195) each won individual titles for the Redskins last year, but all have passed the torch to a new class of state qualifiers.
Out of all the teams in this weekend’s championships, no group of wrestlers were as dominant as Commerce was this past month in the team duals. The Tigers made it look easy as they scored the most lopsided finals win of the season, taking the program’s fourth straight Class A dual state title with a 74-3 win over Wesleyan. Commerce has a wrestler represented in every weight class except for 113 pounds this weekend as the program looks for its fourth straight sweep of titles. Last year, the Tigers obliterated the Class A field with 322 total points, while Trion (109) and Mt. Zion (106) finished far behind.