Region Duals

Pope’s Andrew Barner, left, and McEachern’s Johmanuel Arnold lock up at last month’s county championships. Both are set to lead their teams in their respective region duals.

This is a good time of year for McEachern’s wrestling program to be at full strength.

As the Indians attempt to defend their Region 3AAAAAAA dual championship Saturday at North Cobb, they will need contributions from all their weight classes.

Even though McEachern is the defending champion, it knows it is in a strong region, and anything can happen on any given day.

“Marietta, Hillgrove and North Paulding will show up, and North Cobb can surprise some people, too,” McEachern coach Cory Newsome said. “Every team in our region is competitive this time of year. We’re also healthy and hope to stay that way the rest of the week.”

The top two finishers from each region or area tournament will move on to the state duals, which will be held Jan. 16-18 at the Macon Coliseum.

McEachern scored major points in the upper weights of its championship match against North Paulding last season. Several of those wrestlers who excelled last year are expected to be back in the lineup this weekend, including Levi Snyder (195 pounds) and Camrin Mitchell (220). Darrius Smith (160) and Johmanuel Arnold (170) should contribute as well.

Hillgrove, which was two points shy of finishing true second behind North Paulding at last year’s region duals, is younger this season, but the Hawks are expected to be competitive behind Connor Powell (120), Ricky Roberto (145) and Evan Wallace (220).

While Marietta was fourth at the region duals last year, it bounced back to win the traditional tournament later in the season. The bulk of the Blue Devils’ experience is in the lower weights, led by Andy Marchia (106), Nakoti Coleman (126), Ely Early (132) and Alex Hurley (138).

“It’s been a day-to-day thing. It depends on if we show up” Marietta coach Tommy Carthers said. “I feel like we’re good enough, but we can be a roller coaster with a young team.”

In Region 4AAAAAAA, Lassiter has the depth and experience to dethrone defending champion Cherokee, which will host the region duals this weekend.

The Trojans will have to make due without RJ Weston, who is out with a broken foot, coach Matt Brickley said. That leaves Lassiter depending on the likes of David Panone (132), Landon Chambers (145), Jack Dyess (182) and Francisco Valle (285) to step up.

Brickley said the Trojans had a busy holiday break with only days off. They won their own Trojan Duals and wrestled tournaments at Lambert and in Orlando, Florida.

“We definitely put in our time during the break,” Brickley said. “Cherokee is the defending region champs, and they have a tough team. I think we can fit into the mix pretty well. I think we have a shot at progressing to the state duals, but we have to be on our game.”

Harrison will be hosting the Region 6AAAAAA duals, with Pope hosting Region 7AAAAAA.

While the Hoyas are improving, they are still a young team, and they expect to have their hands full against top contenders Creekview and Sequoyah.

While Harrison may not be able to fill every weight class, it will have Jarrod Pominville (138), Elijah Rudd (160), Wyatt Sligh (106) and Brian Cratt (145).

Pope is the clear favorite to win in 7AAAAAA. Not only are the Greyhounds expected to have each of the 14 weight classes filled, but they won the Cobb County Invitational last month by placing wrestlers in the top four of every weight class.

Campbell, Pebblebrook and Wheeler will head to East Coweta for the Region 2AAAAAAA duals, while Kell will be at Hiram for the Region 7AAAAA duals. The Area 4A duals will take place at Trion.

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