It's time for Class 7A, remember, we will only be releasing 4A-7A at this time, because we don't know how things will shake out for the 1A-3A Classifications. There are still several things to be determined about the landscape of Georgia HS wrestling for the 20-21 season in regards to the number of classifications for Traditional and Duals.
We are fairly certain that the Duals portion of the State tournament will have 7 classifications, and it has been proposed that the postseason will have a new format. Each Region will send 4 teams to the State Duals, however, the tournament will be a 2-week process. The first weekend will see eight 4 teams tournaments, that will be hosted by each Region Champion. It will be set up similar to how the GHSA operates the playoffs for most of the other sports with Region Champions facing a 4th place team from another region, and Region Runner-ups facing a team that got 3rd in the Region. The winners would then wrestle to determine which team would advance to Macon the next weekend, for am 8-team double elimination tournament. As it stands right now, we believe that classes 4A-7A will have the same Region alignment that all the other Region sports have, but at this time, we are unsure of what the Region alignments will be at 1A-3A.
The Traditional State Tournament is completely undecided. There has been talk of reducing the Traditional Tournament down to 5 Classifications, with 1 classification consisting of all the Private Schools from 1A and 2A. The other 4 classifications would split up the remaining schools into 4 equal sized classes. If this option were to pass, then there would be 16-man brackets for each of the 5 Classes.
Another option being considered would be to keep things at 7 Classes, with a breakdown that would look something like this:
If this option is chosen, then it looks like each classification would only have 8 qualifiers per weight for the State Traditional Tournament, however this hasn't been fully decided upon yet.
The final option on the table at this time would give us 8 classifications. It would maintain the Classifications of 1A-7A, however the Private schools would be removed from Class 1A and would compete together in their own classification. If this option is selected, then each class would definitely have 8 man brackets at State.
With that being said, on to the Preview!!!
Teams: Alpharetta, Cherokee, Etowah, Milton, Roswell, Woodstock
A 6 team Region that sees Alpharetta move up from 6A to join with 5 others that were in 7A last year. Cherokee qualified for the State Duals last season, and finished 8th at the Traditional State Tournament. There are 16 returning State qualifiers in the Region, with 3 of them being returning State Placers.
Cherokee and Woodstock should be battling it out for the top spot in this Region, as both teams return at least half their starting lineup. Woodstock returns 7 Sectional qualifiers, with 5 of those qualifying for the State Tournament. They will be led by returning State Champion, Michael Roe, who won the title at 120 lbs. Cherokee will also be led by a defending State Champion, as Jacob Silka took the crown at 106 lbs. Cherokee has 4 returning State qualifiers, plus two others who just missed out on qualifying, Carson Rhodes at 145 and Stephen Weatherby at 182.
Etowah brings back 9 Sectional qualifiers and could be in the mix with Cherokee and Woodstock. They return 4 State qualifiers and will be led by Joseph Lago, who was 1 match shy of placing at 145.
Roswell, Milton, and Etowah will each be returning 1 State qualifier. Roswell brings back Christian Cartier, who finished 5th at 138. Alpharetta returns Jack Florillo who won a match at State after finishing 6th at Sectionals. Milton will return AJ Crawford who also finished 6th at Sectionals. Milton has two other wrestlers that didn't compete at State last year, that would be a huge addition to their lineup. Garrett Krsul won his Region at 145, but didn't compete at Sectionals due to injury, and 2019 State Champion Ben Williams left the team late in the season.
Best Wrestler: Silka, Cherokee-106
Intriguing Potential Matchup: Field vs Crawford
Keep an Eye on: Thomas Rhodes, Roswell-120
Teams: Denmark, Forsyth Central, Gainesville, Lambert, North Forsyth, South Forsyth, West Forsyth
Gainesville moves up from 6A and Denmark moves all the way up from 4A to join the rest of the Forsyth Co schools in the same Region. 3 Schools qualified for the State Duals from this region last year, with West Forsyth finishing 3rd and North Forsyth advancing to the consolation semis. Gainesville also advanced in 6A and went 1-2 at the Duals. Four teams were able to finish in the Top 15 at the Traditional State Tournament, with West again taking 3rd. Forsyth Central finished in 9th, North Forsyth finished 10th and Lambert finished 15th. This Region returns an amazing 35 State qualifiers from last year, by far the most in the classification (Region 1 and 8 both return 20), they also have 14 returning State Placers from last season, again more than any other Region in 7A. West Forsyth has more returning State Placers by themselves than 5 other Regions.
This Region is absolutely loaded, and will be a dogfight between West Forstyh, Lambert and North Forsyth for the top spot. West Forsyth has the edge heading into the season with 8 returning State Qualifiers and 6 Returning State Placers. The Wolverines will be led by heavyweight State Champion, and major D1 Football recruit, Dylan Fairchild. Supporting Fairchild is a pair of 3rd place finishers, Ethan Rickert (152) and Daba Fofana (182). This team has a very deep lineup and will be tough to knock off in either dual or traditional format.
Lambert also returns 8 State qualifiers from last season, and the have 3 Returning State Placers. The Longhorns have a ton of talent in the bottom of their lineup, returning 7 of the first 8 weight classes, all of them State qualifiers. Mason McClung finished 4th at 113 and Davis Dobbs finished 6th at 120 to anchor the bottom of the lineup. Up top, Lambert brings back State Runner-up at 220, Thomas Dossett.
North Forsyth Returns 6 State Qualifiers from last year and will be led by a pair of sophomore State Finalists. Bentley Wheeler finished 2nd at 160 and Dylan Lyerly won a State Title at 220 and will be looking for repeat performances their junior season. The Raiders are very formidable from 160 up, but they will need some production from the bottom of their lineup if they want to stay with West Forstyh and Lambert.
Gainesville and Forsyth Central both return 4 State Qualifiers from last season. The Red Elephants will be bringing back a total of 10 Sectional Qualifiers from last season, led by Demarrie Hayes (138) and Kendie Cavazos (152), both of whom won a match a State last season. Forsyth Central will be led by State Runner-up at 170, Avery Krippner and 2019 State Placer Mikel Stowers (138).
South Forsyth and Denmark both have a returning State Placer in their lineup. The War Eagles were decimated by injury last year, and hope to get some of those guys back in the lineup this year. They will be led by 5th place finisher at 113 Juan Cruz and State Qualifiers Sai Gudipati (126) and Cole Williams (170). Denmark returns 2 State Qualifiers, with Zack Recker finishing 5th at 113 and Ethan Culbreth placing 3rd at Sectionals at 138.
1. West Forsyth
3. North Forsyth
Best Wrestler: Fairchild, West Forsyth- 285
Intriguing Potential Matchup: They are all over the place in this Region. 7 weight classes have 3 or more Returning State qualifiers, 220 has 3 returning State Placers and 113 has 4 Returning State Placers. 113- Recker vs McClung vs Cruz vs Murray
Keep an Eye on: Christian Walker, West Forsyth-132
Teams: Archer, Berkmar, Discovery, Duluth, Dunwoody, Meadowcreek, Norcross
Dunwoody jumps up from 6A to join with pieces from 3 different 7A Regions. Archer is the only school in the Region that saw any State level success last year. The Tigers finished 4th at the State Duals and 12th at the State Traditional Tournament. There are 12 returning State qualifiers in the Region with 2 of them being returning State Placers.
Archer has as many returning State Qualifiers as the rest of the Region combined, with 6. The Tigers will be led by their two returning State Placers, Florin Myndresku finished 3rd at 138 and Vernon Rogers finished 4th at 106. Archer only graduated 2 starters from a team that finished 4th at State Duals.
Dunwoody returns 3 State qualifiers from last season, all in the lower weights, but they had zero wins in Macon. Berkmar returns 7 Sectional qualifiers, but none of them qualified for the State Tournament. Norcross returns 2 State qualifiers from last year and will be led by heavyweight Sharkwan McKnight, who won a match at State.
Duluth returns only Skye Loonubon, who qualified for state at 113 last year. Discovery and Meadowcreek do not return any State qualifiers from last season.
Best Wrestler: Myndresku, Archer-138
Intriguing Potential Matchup: Loonubon vs Scothorn
Keep an Eye on: Antwan Verdell, Archer-132
Teams: Collins Hill, Mill Creek, Mountain View, North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge
All 5 of these teams were together in Region 7 last season, with COllins Hill and Mountain View qualifying for the State Duals. Collins Hill finished 2nd in both the State Duals and the Traditional State Tournament, while Mountain View advanced to the consolation quarters at the Duals and finished 11th at the Traditional State Tournament. North Gwinnett and Mill Creek, both finished 13th at the Traditional State Tournament. There are 20 returning State qualifiers from this Region with 7 of them being State Placers.
Collins Hill and Mountain View have battled back and forth in this region for the past half decade or so, however next year, Mill Creek will be a legitimate threat to their control. All 3 schools will return a lineup that had over half of it qualify for Sectionals last year. Collins Hill has 5 returning State Qualifiers, and will be led by the Regions only returning State Champion. Clint Gilbert won the title at 138 lbs and he will be supported by 4 other returning State qualifiers, that were all 1 match away from placing.
Mountain View only brings back 4 State qualifers, and will be led by 152 lbs State Runner-Up, Armond Jones. The Bears a total of 8 Sectional qualifiers from a very young 2020 squad. Mill Creek returns 4 State Placers from last year led by 4th place finisher Grant Turner at 120. Banks Bitterman (106), Nic Bachmann (132), and Gavin Guerra (195) all three finished 5th at the State Tournament.
North Gwinnett returns 4 State qualifiers from last season, including 6th place finisher at 160, Seth Anderson. If they can fill in the holes around their returning qualifiers, they will be able to contend for a top 2 or 3 finish in the Region. Peachtree Ridge returns 4 Sectional qualifiers, but only 1 State qualifier.
1. Mill Creek
2. Collins Hill
3. Mountain View
4. North Gwinnett
Best Wrestler: Gilbert, Collins Hill-138
Intriguing Potential Matchup: Bambinelli vs Sherwood
Keep an Eye on: Jordan Eccleston, Mountain View-138