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2022-2023 Region Previews: Class 4A Regions 1-4

By Georgia Grappler, 06/28/22, 9:30AM AKDT

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Full Region by Region Breakdown by Classification

Introduction

Over the next few weeks, we will be breaking down all 56 Regions heading into the new season.  This will be a preview of what we expect each team to return from last year.  This report does not include any incoming freshman, nor does it include any transfers.  We can not predict who will decide to stop wrestling, nor can we predict who is going to move up 2 or 3 or more weight classes, we are looking at overall strengths, and weaknesses based on who we expect each team to bring back for this season.

With that being said, we appreciate any feedback that you would like to give including any inside information on projected lineups, incoming freshman, transfers (both in and out), and wrestlers that may be returning that didn't compete in the post season last year.

Please feel free to send us any of the above information to georgiagrappler1@gmail.com 

One other note, compiling and writing this information is very time consuming, and it is not our full time job, so please be patient with the schedule as we release these previews.  While we are providing this preview for free, other content that we release as the season nears will be behind a pay wall, so if you do enjoy what you see here, please consider getting a subscription, without those we will no longer be able to keep the site up and running with quality content.

Thank You

Class 4A Region 1

Teams: Bainbridge, Cairo, Hardaway, Shaw, Westover

Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 30

Returning State Qualifiers: 10

Returning State Placers: 2
Fillingame (Bainbridge), 5th @ 170
Heard (Hardaway), 5th @ 182

All five of the teams in this Region were in 4A last season, they were split between Regions 1 and 2.  Bainbridge, Cairo, and Shaw qualified for the State Duals last season, with Bainbridge advancing to the Elite 8, ultimately finishing in the top 6.  Bainbridge finished 2nd in the Region in both formats last season, and none of the teams won a Region Title last year.  Hardaway did not qualify for the State Duals last season, but finished higher at the State Traditional tournament than any of the other teams in the Region.  The Hawks scored 39 team points in Macon, which was good enough for a 15th place finish.  

Bainbridge: The Bearcats return 8 wrestlers that qualified for the sectional tournament last year, with 3 of them qualifying for the State Tournament.  Bainbridge had a great run in the Duals postseason, finishing 2nd in the Region and then upsetting Central Carroll in the 2nd round of the State Tournament to advance to the Elite 8.  At the State Finals, the Bearcats would win over Hampton in the consolation bracket to advance to the consolation semis, there they would fall to Marist.  This year's lineup returns a lot of experience and will be led by State Placer Josh Fillingame and 3x State Qualifier Malcom Spann.  Bainbridge will need to fill in some holes in the lower half of their lineup, but more importantly they will need to find some production at the 3 heaviest weight classes.  

Cairo: The Syrupmakers return 13 wrestlers that competed at the Region Tournament last season, this will make them the favorites heading into the Region Duals Tournament this season, as long as they return everyone and their weights don't bunch up too much.  After finishing 3rd in the Region Duals, behind TCC and Bainbridge, Cairo lost in the 1st round at State to New Hampstead.  11 of their 13 returning starters qualified for Sectionals, but only 2 of those wrestlers advanced to Macon.  Tanner Ramm and Jimmie Jimenez are both 2x State Qualifiers that will be looking to end their careers by placing at state in their Senior season.  The rest of Cairo's lineup is still relatively young, with 7 freshmen qualifying for Sectionals last season.

Hardaway: The Golden Hawks did not qualify for the State Duals last season coming out of Region 2-4A.  However, they did finish in the top 15 at the State Traditional Tournament in Macon.  Hardaway returns 3 State Qualifiers from last season led by 182 lbs. State Placer DeAndre Heard.  All 3 of Hardaway's returning qualifiers are in the upper weights, and while they do return 4 starters in their lower weights, they will need to fill a lot of holes if they want to compete for a Region Championship.  

Shaw: The Raiders competed in Region 2 last season, along with Hardaway, and were able to finish 4th at the Region Duals Tournament.  However that 4th place finish gave them a first round match up with the eventual State Champion West Laurens team.  Shaw does return 7 Sectional Qualifiers, and a total of 9 starters that wrestled in the Region Tournament.  The Raiders return all of their upperweights from 152 up, however fitting all of them in the lineup will prove tough, especially with the new weight classes.  Three seniors stand out as the leaders of this team, returning State Qualifiers Laterian Young and David Washington along with 2021 State Placer Jet Le.  If Shaw can solidify the lower half of their weight classes, they will be in the mix for a Region Title this season.

Westover: The Patriots only have 1 wrestler returning from last season that competed in the Region Tournament.  Kleiner Rodriguez finished 3rd in the Region Tournament, but did not qualify for State.  Obviously, Westover will need a lot of work to be competitive in this Region.

Region Duals Ranking:
1. Cairo
2. Bainbridge
3. Shaw
4. Hardaway

Traditional Region Ranking:
1. Bainbridge
2. Shaw
3. Cairo
4. Hardaway

Post Season Preview:
Unless Region 1 gets a favorable draw for the State Duals, I don't see any of these teams qualifying for the Elite 8.  In the Traditional post season, a couple of teams may finish somewhere in the 15th to 20th position, if Bainbridge, Shaw, or Hardaway gets really hot for two weeks, one of them could push up a few spots higher, but I don't see any of them cracking into the top 10.
 

Class 4A Region 2

Teams: Baldwin, Griffin, Howard, Perry, Spalding, West Laurens, Westside Macon

Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 33

Returning State Qualifiers: 8

Returning State Placers: 4
Ingram (West Laurens), 2nd @ 126
Bowers (West Laurens), 3rd @ 138
Atkinson (Perry), 3rd @ 145
Wood (West Laurens), 2nd @ 152

Every team except for Griffin competed together in Region 4-4A last season, and Griffin didn't even have a competitor in their 5A Region last season.  This Region is definitely top heavy,  only 3 teams had a State Qualifier last season, and only West Laurens and Perry scored a point at the State Tournament.  With that being said, West Laurens is your defending Class 4A State Champions and Perry managed to finish in the top 10 at 10th.  As for Duals, Baldwin and Howard joined Perry and West Laurens in qualifying for the State Duals, however they both bowed out with 1st round losses.  Perry advanced to the 2nd round where they narrowly lost to Marist 39-34, and Marist would go on to finish 4th.  West Laurens would advance to the Elite 8, and there they would shock just about everyone with a 37-36 criteria victory over Jefferson in the State Finals.

Baldwin: The Braves return 4 Sectional Qualifiers and 5 overall starters from the Region tournament, but they do not have any returning State Qualifiers.  Derick Brown finished 2nd in the Region last year, but did not qualify for the State Tournament, however he did make the round of 12 at the State Tournament in 2021.  Baldwin finished 3rd in both Region Tournaments last season, and look to be in a similar situation this year.  The 5 returning starters are all spread out in the lineup, and providing they all are back with the team, they each should be in the starting lineup again.

Griffin: The Bears did not compete in the Traditional Region Tournament last season, but they did have 4 wrestlers on their roster that went through weight assessment.

Howard: The Huskies look to be in the best position to break into the mix with Perry and West Laurens for a spot in the top 2 in the Region.  Howard returns 10 wrestlers that competed in the Region tournament last year, and 8 of them made it to sectionals.  Of the 10 returning starters, only 1 of them will be a Senior this season, so the Huskies could really use this season to set them up for a very successful 2024 campaign. None of the returning wrestlers qualified for the State Tournament last year, but after finishing 2nd in the Region last year, Jacob Jackson looks to be in great shape to qualify this year.

Perry: The Panthers return 3 State qualifiers from last season, including State Placer Noah Atkinson.  Perry returns most of the lower half of their lineup and they also return the their three upper weights.  If they want to get back to the Elite 8 in duals they are going to need to fully solidify their middle weights.  Unfortunately for Perry, where they return starters, they don't match up too well with West Laurens, so if they want to get back to hoisting Region Championship trophies they are going to need to do it with the back half of their lineup, which is unproven right now.  

Spalding: The Jaguars did not qualify for the State Duals, and finished 5th in the Region last year.  While they return 10 starters from the Region Tournament, only 4 of them qualified for Sectionals, and none made it to Macon.  Dakota Myers finished 3rd in the Region last year, and almost made it to the State Tournament, but he finished 8th at sectionals, he looks to be Spalding's best chance at participating in Macon next season.  However with 10 wrestlers returning with post season experience, the Jaguars do have a shot at making it the State Duals tournament.  

West Laurens: The Raiders picked up State Championships in both formats last season, and their State Duals Finals match against Jefferson was an awesome match to watch, I wish i could have seen it live (Hey GHSA lets get all Classifications under 1 roof for the State Duals again).  With that being said, West Laurens graduated the heart of their lineup, and they do not have a single returning starter coming back over 152.  They do Return 3 State Placers and a total of 5 State Qualifiers, so they will once again be an extremely tough team, but if they want to compete for another title, they are going to have to reload in the upperweights.  Drake Wood finished 2nd last year and will be looking to cap off his senior season with a State Title.  JT Bowers had an incredible freshman season that ended with a 3rd place finish at State, and Aiden Ingram will look to become a 3x State Placer after having placed 5th in 2021 and 2nd this past season.  

Westside, Macon: The Seminoles had 4 wrestlers compete at the Region Tournament, but none of them advanced to the Sectionals tournament.  Keep an eye on Jamal Blackshear, heavyweight will be a tough weight class in this Region, but he is Westside's best shot at advancing to sectionals.

Region Duals Ranking:
1. West Laurens
2. Perry
3. Howard
4. Spalding

Traditional Region Ranking:
1. West Laurens
2. Perry
3. Howard
4. Spalding

Post Season Preview:
Generally speaking, defending State Champs are usually looked at as the favorites heading into the next season.  West Laurens should be in the discussion of teams that will be in the mix to win it all in both formats, but with what they have coming back they are not the favorites in the preseason.  Perry should once again compete for a top 10 finish, but no one else from this Region will sniff the top 15.  Unless the State Duals bracket draw is brutal, West Laurens should be able to make it back to the Elite 8, and Perry has a chance as well.  Outside of those two, no one else in the Region will advance past the 1st round at the State Duals.

 

Class 4A Region 3

Teams: Benedictine, Burke Co, Islands, New Hampstead, Wayne Co

Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 38

Returning State Qualifiers: 7

Returning State Placers: 0

This Region consists of teams from 3 different classifications, giving us a lot of new matchups that we haven't seen in the past.  Benedictine, Islands, and New Hampstead were all together in Region 3-4A last season, with Benedictine the Region Title in both formats.  Burke Co moves up from class 3A, and Wayne Co moves down from class 5A.  All 5 teams qualified for the State Duals last year, but none of them advanced to the Elite 8.  Benedictine and New Hampstead did win their 1st round matches at the State Duals, but fell in the 2nd round to Heritage and Hampton.  Benedictine had the most success at the Traditional State Tournament scoring 19 points, but no team finished in the top 20.

Benedictine: The Cadets return 7 sectional qualifiers, but only 3 of them qualified for the State Tournament.  Xander Argentinis and Kazimier Merriweather both qualified for State in 2021 and came a match or two away from placing, but failed to qualify for the State Tournament last season.  They will be joined in the lower half of the lineup by two returning State Qualifiers in Connor Desaulteis and Waldon Jenkins.  The upper half of the lineup sees Calvin Brown as the only returning State qualifier, so the upper weights will need some rebuilding if Benedictine wants to repeat as the Region Champs.

Burke Co: The Bears do not have a State Qualifier returning to their squad, but they do have 7 Sectional Qualifiers coming back.  Burke Co will enter the 2023 season without a senior among their returning sectional qualifiers, if they can add some quality freshman to this group the Bears could be set up for a strong run in 2024.  While they don't have any returning State Qualifiers, Matthew Seigler finished 3rd at the Region tournament last season, and he did qualify for State in 2021, he should give the Bears some needed experience in the middle of their lineup as they grow throughout the season.

Islands: The Sharks will be in rebuild mode this season with only 3 wrestlers returning from last year that competed in the Region Tournament.  All 3 of them qualified for sectionals, but none of them advanced to Macon.  Jake Knight qualified for the State Tournament at 160 lbs in 2021, however he did not make it back to Macon in 2022 after bumping up to 195.  He will be the anchor in Islands lineup as they try to rebuild their team for the 2023 season.

New Hampstead: The Phoenix have 13 Starters returning from last years' Region Tournament, and all of them qualified for sectionals.  Ty Boldin and Max Ruiz will lead the way in the light weights as the teams only returning State Qualifiers.  With virtually the entire team coming back for this season, New Hampstead is looking like the preseason favorites in this Region.  While they only have 2 returning State Qualifiers, Dwayne Phelps, Santiago Carmona,  and Dylan Nessen each finished 8th at sectionals.  Add in 2021 State Qualifiers Andrew Brown and Hector Eide, and the Phoenix have a solid core that could be much more competitive at the State level in 2023.

Wayne Co: The Yellow Jackets drop down a classification and bring 8 Sectional Qualifiers with them.  Their returning starters are spread out well throughout their lineup, and if they can add a few quality pieces they will be contenders in this Region.  Senior Syon Blake qualified for the State Tournament last season and he will anchor the lower weights.  The only other returning State Qualifier is Caleb Smith, and he will be a solid contributor in the upper weights.  Blake and Smith are the only returning starters that will be seniors this year and their other 6 returning starter could get valuable experience this season helping Wayne Co to have a solid core entering the 2024 season.

Region Duals Ranking:
1. New Hampstead
2. Wayne Co
3. Benedictine
4. Burke Co

Traditional Region Ranking:
1. New Hampstead
2. Benedictine
3. Wayne Co
4. Burke Co

Post Season Preview:
None of these teams finished inside the top 20 at the Traditional State Tournament last year, and this year will be similar.  New Hampstead could find their way into the top 20, but that will be their ceiling.  Unless the State Duals bracket draws are favorable, I don't see any of these teams making it to the Elite 8.  On the flip side, if they draw the wrong Region in the first round of the State Duals, they could get swept.

 

Class 4A Region 4

Teams: Fayette Co, Lagrange, North Clayton, Riverdale, Starr's Mill, Trinity Christian, Troup Co, Whitewater

Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 30

Returning State Qualifiers: 5

Returning State Placers: 3
Ward (Troup Co), 4th @ 106
Bowen (Troup Co), 5th @ 132
Dunn (Troup Co), 5th @ 152

This is another Region that mashes up teams from three different classifications.  Starr's Mill and Whitewater will be dropping down from Class 5A and Trinity Christian makes the huge jump from 1A.  The rest of the Region competed in Regions 2 and 5 in class 4A.  On Paper, Troup is the heavy favorite as they return the most Sectional Qualifiers, the most State Qualifiers, the only State Placers, and they advanced the furthest in the State Duals.  Troup advanced to the 2nd round of the State Duals, while Fayette County and Whitewater qualified an lost in round 1.  Only 4 of the 8 schools sent individual wrestlers to the State Tournament in Macon, with Troup finishing in the top 10 at 9th.  

Fayette Co: The Tigers only bring back 4 starters that competed in the Region tournament last season.  Elijah Rosario and Eduvie Dan-Odiete were the only two to qualify for sections, with both of them finishing 4th at Region.  Despite only 4 returning starters, Fayette can once again qualify for the State Duals if they can fill out the rest of their lineup.

Lagrange: The Grangers also return two Sectional Qualifiers, but they only bring back 3 starters from last years post season.  Sean Shirley and Tayvon Howard both qualified for sectionals, and they both came close to qualifying for Macon, but ended up finishing 8th.  Only 1 other returning wrestler competed at the Region tournament for Lagrange, and they will find them selves in a battle with Fayette Co for that 4th and final spot in the State Duals.

North Clayton: The Eagles return 7 starters from last year's Region 5 Tournament, and 5 of them advanced to sectionals.  North Clayton will be in the mix with Fayette Co and Lagrange for the 4th and final spot from this Region in the State Duals.  Last year Fayette Co finished ahead of North Clayton at the Duals, but i do not know if the Eagles sent a team to compete at that tournament.  The Middle of the Eagle's lineup is their core, as they return everyone from 132 to 170, along with their heavyweight.  Region Runner-up Travis Wesley will try to lead North Clayton to a birth at the State Duals.

Riverdale: The Raiders do not return anyone that competed in the Region Tournament last season.  They only had 1 wrestler on their roster, and he was a senior.  

Starr's Mill:  The Panthers failed to qualify for the State Duals last season, but with 9 returning postseason starters, and a new Region, they should be able to qualify in 2023.  Starr's Mill returns 5 Sectional Qualifiers, but they did not qualify anyone for Macon last season.  Carson Brownell and Makoa Serapion both finished 3rd in the Region and will be the highest returning placers for the Panthers.  While Starr's Mill likely will not be able to match up with  Troup Co, they should compete with Whitewater for 2nd in the Region Duals.

Trinity Christian: The Lions make a big jump in classifications from 1A all the way up to 4A.  They return 3 Sectional Qualifiers, but they did not qualify anyone for Macon in 2022.  With only 7 people on their entire roster, its hard to imagine Trinity being in the mix at the Region Duals.  Thomas Seitz is their only Senior, and he was also the only wrestler on the roster to assess over 145 lbs.  The Lions will try to make an impact at the Traditional Tournament, but won't be a threat at the Duals.

Troup Co: The Tigers should pick up Region Titles in both formats this season, and they will be in contention for advancing to the Elite 8 in Duals.  With 3 returning State Placers in Elijah Ward, Braydon Bowen, and Tim Dunn to go along with 2 others who have had success in Macon in the past, but didn't qualify last season, Troup will be pushing for a top 5 finish this year.  9 post season starters with 8 of them qualifying for sectionals, gives the Tigers a great core for building a Dual team that will have them competing for an Elite 8 birth.  Their Strength is definitely in their lower weights, with all 3 of their placers being at 152 and below.

Whitewater: The Wildcats finished 3rd in their Region Duals last year to advance to the State Duals where they fell to Jones Co in round 1.  They have 5 returning Sectional Qualifiers, but only Josh Smith qualified for Macon.  Smith made it to the blood round last year, just missing out on State placement.  Whitewater will also rely on Jackson Mills, a 2021 State Qualifier that finished 8th at sectionals in 2022.  Whitewater returns 8 post season starters and should be battling it out with Starr's Mill for 2nd in the Region.

Region Duals Ranking:
1. Troup Co
2. Whitewater
3. Starr's Mill
4. North Clayton

Traditional Region Ranking:
1. Troup Co
2. Whitewater
3. Starr's Mill
4. North Clayton

Post Season Preview:
Troup Co is the only team in position to make any noise in the post season.  While I expect Whitewater to potentially have a state placer or two, they may be the only other team with an individual in Macon.  Troup had to face Jefferson last year in the 2nd round of the State Duals, this year they will be hosting the first two rounds, and should advance to the Elite 8, as long as they don't get another terrible draw in the brackets.  

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