Dynasties at stake in 2018 state duals
By Alex Ewalt – firstname.lastname@example.org
The Macon Centreplex will host the state’s 17th dual wrestling championships from Jan. 11-13. There are several powerhouse teams looking to repeat as state champions, but the competition is strong in each of seven classifications as challengers try to dethrone favorites.
In Class AAAAAAA, Camden County comes in with the goal of defending its 2017 dual wrestling title after taking the Area 1 championship last weekend. The Wildcats have won three state duals titles in a row, the first two in Class AAAAA and last year in the top classification. Camden County lost eight seniors from last year’s squad who earned wrestling scholarships, but the team still boasts top wrestlers in senior Brandon Orum and juniors Nicholas Krug and Raydan Wilder, among others. A strong North Forsyth squad easily won its Area 5 championship, and last year’s runner-up, Archer, enters state after getting edged by Rockdale County to finish second in Area 8.
Alexander won its first duals and second traditional title in Class AAAAAA last year, and the Cougars are back on a championship pace in 2018. Alexander senior Little Nelson is a senior leader of this squad that defeated South Paulding 49-24 in the Area 5 championship matchup last week. In addition to Nelson, the Cougars have a lot of young talent that is ready to compete for a state title along with fellow seniors Vinnie Ferrara and Zayd Ansari. Valdosta and Richmond Hill are also contenders.
Buford is the team to beat in Class AAAAA. Junior Logan Ashton and sophomores Charlie Darracott and Nick Stonecheck headline Tom Beuglas’ Buford squad, which won the Area 8 finals with a dominating 67-12 victory over host Clarke Central. Locust Grove, Ola and Cass are all looking to dethrone the Wolves, who won their second duals title last season.
No team has dominated wrestling in the state quite like Jefferson. The Dragons have won a state duals title every year the event has been held (2002 was the inaugural competition) and will look to win yet another as a Class AAAA school. Jefferson coach Doug Thurmond is a member of the Georgia chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and has the likes of Dawson Bates, Cole Potts and Ian Statia as top wrestlers on the roster.
Bremen won the 2017 championship, the program’s fourth duals title, but will have stiff competition in Class AAA. The Blue Devils won the Area 3 title 41-33 over Sonoraville with strong performances from the likes of Koby Cook, Jacob Miles and Aaron Brock, but North Hall has had a great season as well and is a top contender to win the classification.
Social Circle has dominated Class AA for the past three seasons, sweeping the dual and traditional titles each year since 2015. The Redskins handled Elbert County 66-6 in their Area 4 championship matchup to enter Macon as the favorite once again; before the Area title, Social Circle was the champion of the GA/SC Border Wars Duals in December.