The Greyhounds, seeking their seventh straight championship, host the 11-team Area 7AAAAA tournament beginning today at 9 a.m. A five-match limit will be in effect for each team, meaning any team that reaches that limit will have return to wrestle Saturday.
Allatoona, which has yet to win an area duals title, will begin its quest for its first crown today at Woodland-Bartow, with first-round action in Area 5AAAAA starting at 5 p.m. The tournament concludes Saturday, beginning at 9 a.m.
Walker, Whitefield Academy, Mount Paran Christian and North Cobb Christian will head to Trion for the Area 3A meet, which also begins today and ends Saturday.
Teams are competing for a spot at next week’s state championships at the Macon Centreplex. The champions and runners-up of each area will advance.
Pope won its second straight state duals title last season, and its chances of capturing another area championship are strong, despite the Greyhounds’ losses from last year.
“We returned seven starters from last year, so basically, our team has been cut in half,” said Pope coach Jim Haskin, whose team is seeded first in Area 7AAAAA. “We’re rebuilding, but that half of the team has acclimated well. We have one freshman starting, and the other guys who were in the room have had to step up from being on JV last year.
“Our most veteran guys, Jake Henson and Tyler Haskin, have started since they were freshmen, so they know the excitement of winning and being a part of this program. That experience is foreign for a lot of these guys.”
Creekview is the No. 2 seed in Area 7AAAAA, followed by Cambridge and Forsyth Central.
Haskin hopes a challenging schedule has prepared his team for this weekend, and the rest of the season.
“It’s been a long December for us,” he said. “We’ve been out of state wrestling in four tough tournaments in North Carolina, Tennessee and Pennsylvania, so the guys have been through the meat-grinder.
“We’ve come back, and I hope they’ve reaped the benefits of such a tough schedule, and the experience parlays into a good weekend.”
This year may be Allatoona’s best chance at winning an area title. The Buccaneers, aiming for a second-straight state dual appearance, are the top-seeded team in Area 5AAAAA, ahead of Woodland, which beat Allatoona for last year’s area duals championship.
Darlington, Mount Zion-Carroll and Gordon Lee are the favorites in Area 3A.
“We’re going to draw the brackets on Saturday morning when everyone is there,” Mount Paran Christian coach Connie Arnold said. “The area is so widespread, that a lot of us hasn’t wrestled anyone head to head.
“We’re still trying to build a program. We’re in our third year and this is our first full roster where we have a kid at every weight class. That helps. We don’t have any seniors, but we do have kids that want to compete.”