Friday marked the first day wrestling programs could compete, and Brickley will christen the new season — and his new job — by hosting today’s Trojan Invitational, which features 16 programs from around the state.
Headlining the list of participants are Pope and Archer, which swept their respective traditional and dual state championships last year in Classes AAAAA and AAAAAA. Perennial state title contender Collins Hill will also be in attendance.
Other programs scheduled to be in action today include West Forsyth, Kell, Hillgrove, River Ridge, Grayson, Johns Creek, Cherokee, Harrison, McEachern, Carrollton, Loganville and Allatoona.
Cherokee placed seventh in last year’s Class AAAAAA traditional meet, while Loganville was sixth in Class AAAAA. Carrollton was the Class AAAA traditional state runner-up.
“There are some great schools coming to this tournament,” Brickley said. “It’s a good way to get the season rolling.”
Much like the traditional state meet, each team will submit one wrestler per weight class, and the 16 wrestlers will be seeded in a bracket-style format. Individual wrestlers will compete for first through fourth place, and team points will be awarded to determine a champion as well as second through fourth place.
“I’ve run big tournaments like this in the past,” said Brickley, the former Wheeler coach who came to Lassiter to succeed longtime Trojans coach Steve Day.
“This was originally scheduled to be at Wheeler, where I used to coach, because I started planning it in the spring. But then I got this job and it just changed from the Wildcat Invitational to the Trojan Invitational. I already had teams set to wrestle in it, so I just switched the venue.”
Brickley initially put some feelers out to the metro-Atlanta coaches to see who would be interested in competing in a one-day, season-opening tournament.
“It was a tricky request because some schools will still have guys playing football,” Brickley said.
Brickley, however, received some favorable news as several larger schools, like Collins Hill, Archer, West Forsyth and Loganville all expressed interest.
“It started out as an eight-team tournament, and I was getting come pretty good schools lined up,” Brickley said. “That turned it into a selling point, and it went from eight teams to 16 teams. I even had to turn some schools away.”
As many as eight individual state champions from last year — Collins Hill’s Sean Russell and Ryan Milhoff, Archer’s Thomas and Daniel Bullard, Pope’s Jake Henson and Jake Adcock and Carrollton’s teammates Rhett Hembree and Taylor Lujan — are scheduled to compete. Adcock is an offseason transfer from Carrollton.
State runners-up include Pope’s Tyler Haskin, Loganville’s Tyler McCance and Archer’s Chris Diaz. Several national all-Americans and multiple state-placers will also be in attendance.
“A lot of the varsity wrestlers play football, and schools will have some holes to fill, but I think there will be some great pairings in the brackets,” Brickley said. “One of my goals is for everyone to get out in good shape. I want it to be a quick and efficiently run tournament.”
The invitational begins at 9 a.m. today and will be held on four mats. The finals are tentatively scheduled for 2 p.m.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for students.