After today’s first round at the Macon Centreplex, the double-elimination tournament will continue until Saturday’s finals.
Pope, looking for its third straight state duals championship, enters the Class AAAAA tournament as the No. 1 seed. The Greyhounds, who won their seventh consecutive area title last week, begin the tournament today against No. 16 Ware County.
Pope’s lineup is a mix of veteran leadership and up-and-coming wrestlers. Josh Tazzetta (106 pounds), Sam Skinner (126), Tyler Haskin (132), Jake Adcock (138), T.J. Collins (145), Davis Burson (152) and Jake Henson (160) will be looked upon to help the Greyhounds navigate their way through the bracket and another potential title.
Allatoona, the Area 5AAAAA runner-up, is a No. 4 seed and will face No. 13 Warner Robins.
The Buccaneers made history last season with their first state dual appearance. They return with higher expectations and a much-improved seeding in the tournament.
“The coaches that went to the (seeding) meeting felt like we were a No. 4 seed, even though we didn’t win our region,” Allatoona coach Joe Lanier said. “The coaches started moving towards that last year since there are disparities in regions. The idea is to put the best teams in the best positions, regardless of how they finished at the region championship. Our region and Pope’s region are considered the best, and it showed with the seeds. Creekview got No. 2, and Woodland is a third seed.”
Despite schools being closed Monday and Tuesday, Allatoona was still able to get some practice in.
Ethan Benedict (132), Jack Woods (138), Erick Vermette (145), Jacob Robinson (152), Will Kemp (160), Cody Webb (195) and Alex Valentine (220) have done well for the Buccaneers this season.
“I feel like we’re strong from 106 to 160, with a few heavier weights to help out,” Lanier said. “It’s a good lineup. How we match up with some of the other teams will be a challenge for them and us, and what weight class we start at for each match could be key in helping us string together some wins to build momentum.”
For Marietta and Kennesaw Mountain, their seeds in the Class AAAAAA tournament weren’t nearly as good as their county counterparts.
Kennesaw Mountain, the Area 4AAAAAA champion making their sixth straight trip to the state duals, is the No. 8 seed and will face No. 9 Newton in the first round. With a win, the Mustangs would move on to face No. 1 Archer, the defending champion and the fifth-ranked team in the nation by Wrestling USA Magazine.
“Not sure how we got the No. 8 seed,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Roberto Rivera said. “Sometimes you have to show up for the seeding meeting. When you don’t go, you don’t have a way to plead your case, and other people maneuver into spots.
“It doesn’t matter, though. We still have to wrestle the match against a team we don’t know. We’re going to give it our best shot.”
Kennesaw Mountain has a talented lineup that includes Augusto Paes (138), Henrio Thelemaque (145), Brycen Colon (152) and Justan Rivera (182).
“We had some good practices,” Roberto Rivera said. “We have a lot of young guys, so for half the team, this will be their state dual tournament. Guys will get to see where they are against some good teams the next couple of days. We’re going to build on that.”
Marietta, the area runner-up, earned the No. 15 seed and will take on No. 2 North Forsyth. It will be the Blue Devils’ third trip to the state duals.
“It’s a tough matchup, but we’re going to go in there like we have a right to be there, just like (North Forsyth does), no matter what our seed is,” Marietta coach Tommy Carthers said.
The Blue Devils will be led by Brad King (132), Jonathan Gates (160), Dalton Brans (182), Isaiah Borne (195) and Brandon Hill (220), among others.
“I feel like the guys are confident,” Carthers said. “We have a strong core if these guys step up. But we do have some holes, and those guys need to step up, too, for us to get further along in the tournament.
“There’s no pressure on us because nobody expects a lot out of us. We just need to go down there and compete to the best of our ability.”