MACON — Northeast Georgia will be well represented when the 2020 Traditional state wrestling tournament gets underway Thursday at the Macon Centreplex.
More than 90 area wrestlers, 96 to be exact, in six different classifications qualified for the finals, which runs through Saturday.
The top eight wrestlers from two state-wide sectionals per classification qualified in Class 4A to Class 7A. The top six in two state-wide sectionals from Class A to Class 3A qualified for those tournaments.
Only one area team, however, will be looking to defend a state title. Commerce in Class A has won six consecutive Class A Traditional titles. However, the Tigers’ six-year run of Duals titles came to an end against Trion last month and the two figure to be locked in several head-to-head matchups over the weekend.
Buford in Class 5A and Jefferson in Class 3A are looking to get back to the top of the podium after getting knocked off last season. North Hall and Jackson County also figure to be major players in class 3A as well.
The Trojans won the Class 3A Duals title last month beating Sonoraville, which is another team that will be a force over the next three days, in the finals.
(Below is a look at each team, listed by classification, with each individual wrestler who qualified listed by weight-class:)
In Class 6A, Gainesville had five advance with Alex Hernandez (113), Brian Le (126), Demarrie Hayes (138), Kendice Cavazos (152), and Jean Richemond (220), Habersham Central moved six in the finals with Fisher Bejnerowicz (113), Conor Jordan (120), Daniel Chastain (132), Colby Watson (160), Dalton King (220), and Josh Wade (285).
Buford will be a player for sure in Class 5A as the Wolves sent all 14 into the finals. Nick Buffo (106), Hunter Phillips (113), Nick Cambria (120), Tyler Henley (126), JT McCullough (132), Dylan Bozoian (138), Hector Garcia (145), Nick Stonecheck (152), Charlie Darracott (160), Jacob Downing (170), Blaine Bergey (182), Luis Abonza (195), Evan Dimaggio (220), and Jacob Smith (285) make the Wolves a strong contender. Also in Class 5A, Jud Farmer at 106 and Jose Flores at 195 were the only Knights to break through in 2020 for Johnson.
In Class 4A, Flowery Branch continued its strong playoff run as eight managed to qualify for the finals. Christopher Fincher (106), Jarrett Greene (126), Colton Murphy (132), Jacob Woodruff (145), Chris Webb (160), Josh Gutierrez (182), Clay Anderson (220), and Clayton Walczuk (285) all moved into the finals. Chestatee's Chris Pruitt (106), Bryan Ramos (113), D`Angelo Pruitt (120), and Pascual Velasquez (126) all qualified for the finals. White County will send three to the finals in Sean Wurtz (132), Tristen Campellone (170), and Devin Sullens (285) while West Hall has two that advanced to the finals in Brian Armstrong (120) and Justin Gilbert (170),
Class 3A is once-again loaded with area wrestlers as eight different area teams had at least one wrestler qualify. North Hall, last year’s Class 3A state runner-up, has in nearly every weight class as 13 of 14 qualified. Dawson Thompson (106), Cristian Contreras (113), Jacob Pedraza (120), Jackson Whitmire (132), Damon Campbell (138), Cody Smith (145), Dalton Battle (152), Cade Miller (160), Hunter Adams (170), Logan Hawthorne (182), Logan West (195), Seth Carlton (220), Bowie Eisenberg (285). Jefferson finished third in 2019 in Class 3A and is led by last year's 106 champion, Mason Mingus, who moved up to 126 this year. The Dragons take only 9 wrestlers to the finals -- 11 in 2019. Chaz McDonald (106), Davis Dollar (113), Tyson Thurmond (120), Mingus (126), Christian Parten (132), Bryant Cox (138), Grant Hamilton (152), Avery Nelms (170) and Riley Dugan (182) will carry the torch for the Dragons this weekend.
Jackson County ended the 2019 finals 60-plus points behind rival Jefferson to finish fourth. In 2020, the Panthers have wrestlers in 12 of the 14 weight classes in the Class 3A finals -- Cooper Hoffman (106), Ramon Castillo (113), Dalton Hunsinger (120), Nathan McArter (138), Mario Bolivar (145), Jacob Crumley (152), Kaden Andreasen (160), Garrett Bennett (170), Aiden Giroux (182), Tyler Wester (195), Devonte Stephens (220), Tyler Vaughn (285).
Dawson County will send two to the Class 3A finals -- Kincaid Schuette (170), DJ Mitchell (182). Lumpkin County, who finished fifth overall in 2019, had six advancing: Jack Irwin (132), Nolan Wheeler (160), Levi Seabolt (170), Sam Irwin (182), Ethan Kline (195), and Austin Garmany (285). East Jackson's Noah Watts (113) is the only wrestler representing the Eagles. Cherokee Bluff, in only their second season, has four wrestlers, Hayden Biggs (126), Brayden Nance (145), Myka Sims (182), Daniel Bescher (220), qualified for the Class 3A finals. East Hall ended last season’s finals tied with Calhoun for the 18th spot. The Vikings have six in the finals: Cody Lee (120), Austin Cook (126), Drew Highfield (145), Dylan Timms (160), Caleb Pruitt (220), Ray Grayble (285) will head into battle in the Class 3A finals.
In Class 2A, Banks County was 15th overall in 2019. They will send six wrestlers to the Class 2A finals -- Jacob Voyles (106), Evan Clark (132), Parker Hobson (138), Kellon Walley (145), Gabe Dodd (152), Josh Stapleton (195), Erwin Durmic (220). Rabun County’s Hoff Windham (220) will represent the Wildcats in the Class 2A finals. The Wildcats will take four to the finals this year. Cullen Finneran (106), Brian Lewis (195), Jonathan Chesser (220), Lauren Mcdonald (285). Union County finished 27th overall in 2019. Guild Brady (152) and Smith-Foot Eli (285) are set to battle for the Panthers in the Class 2A finals.
In Class A, Commerce is working on a streak of six consecutive Traditionals titles. However, the Tigers' run of six straight Duals titles ended last month at the hands of Trion. The Tigers also are the only area team to win the team traditional championship last season. They return nine wrestlers to the Class A finals this season -- Daniel Nash (106), Dawson Legg (113), Caleb Lovin (120), Bryson Flint (126), Brayden Phillips (170), Jake Frates (182), Elijah Burns (195), Josh Frates (220), Ethan Epps (285). Towns County’s Austin Edrington (160) will represent the Indians in the Class A finals.