Entering the 2013-14 season, coach Joe Lanier believed the Buccaneers were poised for a breakthrough. Many of his best wrestlers returned, and the experience they gained the previous season would benefit the squad.
In the end, Lanier was correct.
Allatoona’s consistency showed throughout the year as the Buccaneers finished high in just about every meet they entered. Allatoona placed third at the season-opening Lassiter Invitational and won its own Parlay Invitational. The Buccaneers were also second at the Cobb County Invitational, second at the area dual tournament, third at the Class AAAAA state dual meet, runner-up at the area traditional meet and runner-up at the Class AAAAA state traditional tournament.
For an outstanding and consistent season, Lanier is the 2013-14 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Wrestling Coach of the Year.
“It’s exciting to see some validation in the work we put in at Allatoona for the last six years,” Lanier said. “The youth program’s paying off, and you start to see those things come to fruition. It’s nice to see.
“We had a great season last year. It was our first time to make it to state duals and we finished, barely, in the top 20. We had some really tough kids, but we just didn’t have the experience at that point. Just to see that experience come out of them in one year was an awesome experience to see.”
When Lanier refers to experience, he’s not only referring to individual wrestling experience, but also experience the wrestlers gained by being involved in the kind of big tournaments in which they participated.
“A lot of those kids put in a lot of work over the summer, but I think it really was just getting a year under their belts and getting a feel for everything,” Lanier said. “Having another year wrestling at the state tournament and making the state duals for the first time, I think going there made a huge difference. They were star-struck last year when we went in. This year, it was all business.”
It was just a matter of things coming together for the Buccaneers.
“I knew we were going to be good, based on what we had coming back, that experience factor and how hard the guys worked over the summer,” Lanier said. “The very first tournament at Lassiter on the very first weekend, and we finish third behind Archer and Pope without our football players. That was an indication.
“Then, for us to win our own tournament in mid-December, that kind of showed where we were and, I think, what we could do. I knew we were going to be a strong team.”
While Allatoona had solid wrestlers at every weight class, the eight who advanced to the state traditional meet carried the team throughout the year.
“All eight that qualified, they did a great job all year, and they got better as the year went on,” Lanier said. “That was the key. That they got better as the year progressed instead of just plateauing out and staying the same.”
With the type of season Allatoona has etched in the history books, Lanier’s expectations for future success has grown.
“We have a deeper desire to win it all next year,” he said. “It’s one of those things that, if somebody came up to me and said ‘Hey, you’re going to finish second in the state at traditional in February,’ I would have been ecstatic.
“I remember on the drive home from (the Class AAAAA state meet at) Loganville wondering what I need to do to make sure we’re better next year and to put us in a place to win it. We led pretty much the entire tournament, and I don’t want to lose that lead again.”