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.
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Teams: Hampton, Lovett, Luella, McDonough, Mt Zion-Jonesboro, Pace Academy, Stockbridge, Woodland-Stockbridge
Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 44
Returning State Qualifiers: 14
Returning State Placers: 8
Kusky (Lovett), 1st @ 106
Hyman (Lovett), 2nd @ 113
Diallo (Mt. Zion, Jonesboro), 5th @113
Kennedy (Lovett), 5th @ 138
Moffett (Lovett), 2nd @ 145
Mance (Lovett), 1st @ 152
Kauffman (Lovett), 4th @ 195
Bell (Lovett), 1st @ 220
Three classifications represented in this new 8 team Region with Stockbridge and Woodland, Stockbridge dropping down from 5A, and Lovett and Pace coming up from 2A. To me Lovett is one of the most intriguing teams to keep an eye on this season in all of Georgia. They won both State Titles last year in 2A, but moved up 2 classifications this season. Under most normal circumstances if a team won a State Title and they return 7 State Placers, they will enter the next season as the favorite to repeat. Lovett is definitely in the mix to win another Championship, the question is, how much will jumping up 2 classifications impact the success of the Lions. 5 teams in this Region qualified for the State Duals last season with both Lovett and Hampton advancing to the Elite 8. Pace Academy advanced to the 2nd round of the State Duals in 2A with Luella and Mt. Zion, Jonesboro both qualifying in 4A. Other than Lovett, Pace Academy is the only other team in the Region finish in the top 15 at the Traditional State Tournament, and the Knights finished 7th.
Hampton: The Hornets were able to advance to the Elite 8 in Duals last year by winning their Region Duals over Mt. Zion and then knocking off Pickens and New Hampstead in rounds 1 and 2. However, they did not see the same success at Traditional State, finishing 28th with 19 points. Hampton brings back 8 Sectional Qualifiers and will be led by their only returning State Qualifier Mustapha Jallow, who advanced to the blood round last season. 6 of Hampton's 8 returners are in the lower half of the lineup, so if they want to make a repeat run at the Elite 8 they are going to need a tremendous rebuild in the upperweights. James Edmonson finished 8th at sectionals in 2022 and qualified for Macon in 2021. Justin Busby is the best Hornet in the upper weights, he did not make it out of sectionals last year after qualifying for Macon in 2021.
Lovett: The Lions defeated Oglethorpe Co in the Class 2A Finals and then went on to win the traditional tournament as well. With 3 returning State Champions, Lovett is in position to once again compete for the State Championship. Lovett has 9 returning State qualifiers, with 7 of them being State Placers. However, if Lovett wants to repeat last year's run they will need to shore up the heaby portion of their middle weights. State Champion Cael Kusky and State Runner-up Alex Hyman will secure the lower weights, and the trio of Jake Kennedy, Nicholas Moffett, and Chris Mance are all studs in the middle of the lineup. Aiden Kauffman and Christian Bell anchor the backend of the lineup, but the lineup between Mance and Kauffman will need to be addressed.
Luella: Luella finished 3rd in Region 5-4A in both formats last year behind Hampton and Mt. Zion. The Lions return 9 post season starters and all of them were Sectional Qualifiers. This core will once again put them in position to qualify for the State Duals, and should put them in position to contend for 2nd in the Region behind Lovett. Nehemiah Grigsby is the only returning State Qualifier for Luella, Grigsby won a Region Title and would go on to finish 4th at sectionals, he is a 2x State Qualifier.
McDonough: The Warhawks only have 3 wrestlers returning on their entire roster, and only Jveion Redmon wrestled at the Region tournament. Redom would win a Region Title at 132 lbs, and he would finish 8th at Sectionals. Obviously with such low numbers, McDonough will not be a factor in the Region Duals, but Redmon will push to be a State Qualifier next season.
Mt. Zion, Jonesboro: The Bulldogs finished 2nd at the Region Duals last season, but were able to rebound and win the Traditional Region Tournament. They return half of their post season roster with 7 Sectional Qualifiers, this core will put them in position to once again qualify for the State Duals. Of the 7 returning starters, only Amadou Diallo qualified for the State Tournament. Diallo won the Region Title and would go on to become a 2x State Placer finishing 5th at 113lbs. Mt Zion returns 4 wrestlers in the middle of the lineup (between 138-160) with Steven Ramos finishing 8th and Victor Ramos finishing 7th at sectionals.
Pace Academy: The Knights were in the same Region as Lovett last season, and they will make the jump up to 4A with the Champs. The middle portion of the Pace lineup was gutted by graduation and they only return 5 wrestlers that competed at the Region Tournament. Benjamin Ganz made it to the blood round last year and he is joined by Steward Favero as the only returning State Qualifiers for Pace. After losing so much of the heart of their order, making a repeat run to the 2nd round of the State Duals and a top 10 finish at the Traditional Tournament seems like a tall task for the 2023 team.
Stockbridge: The Tigers did not qualify for the State Duals last year, and finished 6th in the Traditional Region Tournament. They return 7 wrestlers from last year's post season, but only 1 of them wrestled below 160 lbs. Stockbridge does return 4 Sectional Qualifiers with Leon Thomas being the lone returning State Qualifier. Thomas did advance to the blood round at 182 lbs, and he will be joined in the upper weights by Alvinno Cheeks who just missed out on Macon by finishing 7th at sectionals.If Stockbridge can add some wrestlers in the lightweights, they could compete for a spot in the State Duals, but they won't qualify in this Region with only half a lineup.
Woodland, Stockbridge: The Wolfpack only bring back 3 wrestlers from the post season, and of those three Gavin McDaniel is the only one to advance to sectionals. Woodland is a long way from having a lineup that will see success in Duals and they will need a full rebuild to get this program into contention.
Region Duals Ranking:
3. Mt. Zion, Jonesboro
Traditional Region Rankings:
2. Mt. Zion, Jonesboro
Post Season Preview:
There is no question as to who the favorite is in this Region, the question is, will Lovett be able to repeat as State Champions. I think they are definitely one of the favorites, and barring several injuries, they will be there in the Elite 8 for Duals. While they definitely can win the State Duals Title, I think they have better odds to win the Traditional State Tournament. Outside of Lovett, I do not see any other team that will contend for the Elite 8, and Mt. Zion looks to be the only team that can crack the top 15 in Macon.
Teams: Clarkston, Druid Hills, Holy Innocents, Miller Grove, Southwest Dekalb, Stephenson, Stone Mountain, Westmnster
Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 51
Returning State Qualifiers: 13
Returning State Placers: 5
Moore (Holy Innocents), 5th @ 132
Morgan (Holy Innocents), 5th @ 160
Baskins (SW Dekalb), 5th @ 182
Scott (SW Dekalb), 4th @ 220
Saniford (Miller Grove), 5th @ 285
This Region could possibly have more parity that in other Region in this classification. 6 of the 8 teams should contend for spot in the State Duals, with all 6 of them returning at least half of their post season lineups. Not only do we have a lot of competition for a spot in the State Duals, the Region Title is up for grabs with out a considerable favorite. Depending on additions in the off season, there could be 3 or 4 teams with a legitimate shot at winning either Region Title. 6 of the 8 teams qualified for the State Duals last year, with Westminster advancing to the 2nd round, and everyone else dropping out in round 1. Holy Innocents did finish inside the Top 10 at the Traditional State tournament scoring 73 points, which was good enough for a 6th place finish, but they have lost a lot of the studs that pushed them to that finish. SW Dekalb, the only team in the Region to win a Region Title last year, finished 14th at the Traditional State Tournament, but no other team finished higher than 23rd. Adding to the intrigue of the Region, you have teams from 4 different classifications all being meshed into this new Region. Holy Innocents comes up from 1A and Westminster moves up from 3A while Clarkston, SW Dekalb, and Stone Mountain drop from 5A.
Clarkston: The Angoras only have two wrestlers returning that competed in the Region Tournament, and they only have a total of 5 wrestlers on their roster returning in 2023. Anas Aziz is the only returning Sectional Qualifier for Clarkston, he placed 3rd in Region 5 but did not qualify for Macon. Clarkston will not be a factor in the Region Duals if they decide to compete.
Druid Hills: The Red Devils did not qualify for the State Duals last season, but they return a whopping 10 wrestlers that advanced to sectionals last season. Rabin Gautam and Ehteekaw Soe both qualified for Macon last season and will return this year to anchor the light weights for Druid Hills. With so many returning starters, Druid Hills will be in contention for a spot in the State Duals this season. On another note, of the 10 returning starters, only 2 of them will be seniors this year, so the Red Devils could have their best 2 year run in quite a while.
Holy Innocents: Last season the Bears finished 4th in the Region Duals and were defeated in the 1st round of State by Commerce. They were able to rebound by the time Traditional State rolled around and they finished 6th in Macon. The good news for Holy Innocents is that they return 8 wrestlers that competed in the Region Tournament last year. They lead the Region with 4 returning State Qualifiers, including State Placers Terry Moore and Nick Morgan. However, they did lose most of their top scorers from last year, and they are moving up 3 classifications. Holy Innocents should contend for the Region Title this year, but by no means are they a lock to win it. They will also struggle to find the success they have had in recent years once they get outside of the Region, however they do have a solid core returning, and they have a history of showing that they can rebuild their lineup.
Miller Grove: Despite the lightest wrestler on their roster being at 126 lbs, the Wolverines were able to finish 3rd in the Region 6-4A Duals last season. With the competitiveness and size of the new Region, Miller Grove will struggle to replicate that tremendous accomplishment in 2023. They return 4 wrestlers from last season's post season, and will undoubtedly be led by State Placer Jeremiah Saniford. Joining Saniford as Miller Grove's only other returning State Qualifier is Roddirus Tracy, who advanced to the blood round last year. Saniford and Tracy give the wolverines a great 1-2 punch at the end of their lineup, hopefully they will be able to stay out of each others weight class, as Saniford cant go up any further. Miller Grove, along with Clarkston, are the two teams that will struggle to compete in the Duals format, they just don't have enough weights filled to match up with the other 6 teams.
Southwest Dekalb: Last season the Panthers won the Region Duals Title, but lost in the 1st round of State to Blessed Trinity, they would go on to win the Traditional Region Title as well. The Panthers return 8 Sectional Qualifiers from last year but only have 3 returning State Qualifiers. Jerrell Baskins and Isaiah Scott both placed in Macon, but the hopes of a repeat Region Championship may rest on the shoulders of a few non placers. Dharrin Smith qualified for state in 2022 after having advanced to the round of 12 in 2021, Jayden Hammonds is a 2x State Qualifier that failed to get out of sectionals last year, and Malik Colquitt finished 8th at sectionals after having qualified for Macon in 2021. Those 5 together will make a solid core that could be tough to beat in the Region Duals, if they can fill in the spots around their core.
Stephenson: The Jaguars do not return any State Qualifiers from last year, but they do bring back 7 wrestlers that competed in the Region tournament, and all of them qualified for sectionals. By having half of a lineup with experience, this gives them a chance to qualify for the State Duals again this year, but I am not sure they will be able to match their runner-up Region performance of 2022. Caleb Broadnax is the highest returning finisher, getting 8th place at sectionals and just missing out on Macon, however senior Jaden Mitchell did advance to the round of 12 at State in 2021, but didnt qualify last year.
Stone Mountain: The Pirates have a few good light weights, and a couple of good heavyweights, but will need to fill the middle of their lineup if they want to advance to the State Duals again this season. Dontavious Perry is their only returning State Qualifier, however Tun Kar also has experience wrestling in Macon after having qualified in 2021. Stone Mountain has 6 returning Sectional Qualifiers, and a total of 8 wrestlers that started in the post season last year. I don't see them as one of the contenders for the Region Title, but they will be in the mix for a spot in the State Duals.
Westminster: I am not sure where the Wildcats stand coming into the new season. They have enough returning wrestlers to be a contender in this region with 8 sectional qualifiers coming back, but they don't have any returning State Qualifiers this year. However, Robert Crim and Cooper Thomas both finished 7th at sectionals, and senior Sam Reavis was 2nd in the Region. Westminster is also the only team in the Region to advance to the 2nd round of the State Duals last year. Westminster is either at the bottom of the list of contenders for the Region Title, or at the top of the list of teams that will be contending for a spot in the State Duals.
Region Duals Ranking:
1. Holy Innocents
2. Southwest Dekalb
4. Druid Hills
Traditional Region Ranking:
1. Southwest Dekalb
2. Holy Innocents
3. Druid Hills
4. Stone Mountain
Post Season Preview:
The projections for this Region at the State Duals are pretty straight forward. If they have a great draw, the Region champ can push through to the Elite 8. If the Region has an average to tough draw, none of the teams will make it to the Elite 8. As for the Traditional State Tournament, you could see 2 or 3 teams top out in the mid teens while a few others will have a couple of qualifiers, but know one is knocking on the door of the top 10.
Teams: Cedartown, Central-Carroll, Heritage-Catoosa, Northwest Whitfield, Sonoraville, Southeast Whitfield
Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 35
Returning State Qualifiers: 19
Returning State Placers: 12
Webb (SE Whitfield), 1st @ 106
Hoffman (Central, Carroll), 2nd @ 106
Chastain (Sonoraville), 4th @ 106
Thomas (Heritage, Catoosa), 5th @ 106
Young (Sonoraville), 5th @ 106
Payton (Cedartown), 1st @ 120
Parker (Sonoraville), 5th @ 120
Moore (Sonoraville), 2nd @ 132
Dietz (Heritage, Catoosa), 5th @ 132
Sheffield (Central, Carroll), 5th @ 145
Wingrove (Heritage, Catoosa), 2nd @ 160
Burnecke (NW Whitfield), 5th @ 160
This Region is once again loaded, all 6 teams are returning a State Placer, and all but Cedartown return multiple State Qualifiers. Sonoraville moves up a class from 3A, but the other 5 teams were all together last year in Region 7-4A. 4 of the 6 teams advanced to the State Duals, with 3 of them advancing to the Elite 8. Sonoraville finished 3rd at the State Duals, and Heritage advanced all the way to the consolation semifinals. Cedartown also advanced to the Elite 8 and Central, Carroll was knocked out in the 2nd round. At the Traditional Tournament in Macon, all 6 teams finished in side the top 20, with Sonoraville finishing 3rd and Heritage finishing 6th. Whichever Region Champ that has to face the 2 from this Region will have their hands full.
Cedartown: The Bulldogs return 7 wrestlers that competed in the Region Tournament last season, however only 2 were able to advance to sectionals, and both of those wrestlers also qualified for the State Tournament. All of Cedartown's returning starters are in the light half of the lineup with 160 being the heaviest returning starter. With so many empty spots in the lineup, returning to the Elite 8 this season seems like a longshot for the Bulldogs. The biggest bright spot for Cedartown is returning State Champion, Adam Payton, he finished 1st in all three post season tournaments, and became a 2x State Placer with his Title. Gage Mason also qualified for State last year, but those two will need a lot of help if they want to duplicate last years State Duals run.
Central, Carroll: The Lions return 10 starters from last years Region Tournament. They finished 1st in the Region Duals, but had a disappointing Traditional Region Tournament finishing 6th. A pair of sophomores will lead 6 returning Sectional Qualifiers on this year's team. Those two sophomores are also the only returning State qualifiers. Colson Hoffman led things off for Central, Carroll last season and place 2nd in the State at 106. In the middle of the lineup, Andrew Sheffield took 5th in Macon. With 10 returning starters, Central, Carroll should be one of three teams in contention for the Region Title. Depending on how the finish at the Region Duals, and their bracket draw, they are also in contention for qualifying for the Elite 8.
Heritage, Catoosa: This team is absolutely loaded, and after finishing top 6 at the State Duals, and 12th at the Traditional tournament, they shouldn't be able to sneak up on anyone this season, but they will. The Generals return 12 starters from last seasons Traditional Region Championship team and they will be contenders for the title in both formats this year. One of the things i like about this team is that their top level talent is evenly distributed throughout their lineup. Evan Wingrove finished 2nd at 160 last season, Andrew Dietz finished 5th at 132, Tate Thomas took 5th at 106, and Dax Akers made the blood round at 182. Skylar Grant and Victor Johnson are also returning State Qualifiers for Heritage. The Generals have 3 Sectional Qualifiers to go along with their 7 returning State Qualifiers, with Nolan Caylor finishing 7th at Sectionals. This team is very experienced, they have top end talent, they return most of their lineup, and their talent is balanced throughout the lineup, that checks a lot of the boxes needed to be a contender for the State Title.
Northwest Whitfield: The Bruins have been hit very hard by graduation over the past 2 seasons. They have a few pieces in place for the beginnings of their rebuild, but they aren't quite ready to compete for a Region Title yet. They did not qualify for the State Duals last season, and they will be in a dog fight for the 4th spot out of the Region this year. They do return 5 Sectional Qualifiers with Brandon Phillips and Tony Burnecke also qualifying for the State Tournament. Phillips fell short of placing, advancing to the blood round, and Burnecke finished 5th in the State. NWW needs to really rebuild their upperweights with 170 being the heaviest returning starter.
Sonoraville: The Phoenix are the unknown in the Region this year. Everyone else in the Region competed against one another last year in 7-4A, Sonoraville is the wild card. The biggest question mark for them heading into the season is their upper weights, their lightweights from 152 and below may be the best returning group in the Region. If they can bring in the quality they are accustomed to in the upper weights, they may be a fly in the ointment for teams like Heritage and Central Carroll in their attempts to repeat as Region Champs. Sonoraville brings back 4 State Placers in the first 5 weight classes. Noah Chastain finished 4th, Thomas Young and Wade Parker both finished 5th, and Logan Moore leads the way as a State Runner-up. They do have 2021 State Placer Zach McAfee, a Senior that appears to have been the odd man out in the lineup last season, who could be called upon to anchor down the upper weights.
Southeast Whitfield: The Raiders did not qualify for the State Duals last season, but they were able to finish inside of the top 20 at the Traditional State Tournament. The Raiders do return 10 starters from last year's Region Tournament, but only 5 of them were able to advance to sectionals. The strength of this team is in the light weights with defending State Champion Oliver Webb leading the way. Steven Morales also advanced to Macon where he fell in the blood round for the 2nd year in a row. In the upper weights, Roberto Rios qualified for state at 220 last year as a freshman. The returning pieces are there to qualify for the State Duals, but they are not strong enough from top to bottom to contend for the Region Title.
Region Duals Ranking:
1. Heritage, Catoosa
3. Central, Carroll
4. Southeast Whitfield
Traditional Region Ranking:
2. Heritage, Catoosa
3. Central, Carroll
4. Southeast Whitfield
Post Season Preview:
This is one of the tougher Regions in the classification and we could see 2 or 3 of these teams finish inside the top 10 at the Traditional State Tournament. The Region should advance at least 1 team to the Elite 8 in duals, and could advance as many as 3 teams depending on the bracket draws. Sonoraville really is the X factor here, they finished 3rd at both the Duals and Traditional tournament last season, but they graduated 5 State Finalists at the back of their lineup, and they are moving up a classification. Heritage is very good, they qualified for the Elite 8 last year, and they return most of their lineup this season.
Teams: Cedar Shoals, Cherokee Bluff, Chestatee, East Forsyth, East Hall, Johnson-Gainesville, Madison Co, North Hall, North Oconee, Seckinger, Walnut Grove
Returning Sectional Qualifiers: 58
Returning State Qualifiers: 33
Returning State Placers: 16
Davis (North Oconee), 2nd @ 113
Pruitt (Chestatee), 4th @ 113
Farmer (Johnson, Gainesville), 5th @ 113
Raines (Chestatee), 5th @ 126
Anderson (North Oconee), 5th @ 126
Lasher (North Oconee), 3rd @ 132
Biggs (Cherokee Bluff), 4th @ 132
Dawkins (Walnut Grove), 5th @ 132
Free (North Hall), 1st @ 138
Jachimski (Madison Co), 5th @ 138
Solorzano (Chestatee), 5th @ 145
Harris (North Hall), 2nd @ 170
Warren (Walnut Grove), 2nd @ 182
Moss (Walnut Grove), 1st @ 195
Zaleta (Chestatee), 5th @ 195
Pruitt (East Hall), 2nd @ 285
This Region is absolutely huge, it is the biggest Region in the entire state, regardless of classification. Not only does it have 11 teams, it is also a very deep and talented Region, think of it like this, there are 56 Sectional qualifiers in each Region, yet this Region returns 58. 6 teams qualified for the State Duals last year with 3 advancing to the 2nd round, and 5 teams finished inside the top 10 at the Traditional State Tournament in Macon. You have 3 teams moving up from 3A, 2 teams are dropping down from 5A, and the newest Gwinnett Co school are all in this region with 4 teams remaining in 4A. Walnut Grove is the only team in the Region to win a Region Title last season, winning both formats in Region 8-5A, but North Oconee had the highest finish at the Traditional State tournament, where the placed 4th.
Cedar Shoals: The Jaguars are in a tough spot, they return 10 starters from the Region tournament last year, but only 2 advanced to sectionals. With that many starters returning, one would think that they would be in position to compete for at minimum, a spot in the State Duals. However in this Region there are 7 teams that return 9 or more starters, and Cedar Shoals just doesn't have enough talent from top to bottom to be a major factor at the Region Duals. Obeyanni Blake is their only returning State Qualifier, and he advanced to the blood round for the second time in his career.
Cherokee Bluff: The Bears return 8 starters from last season and the strength of their lineup lies up top. They return the 4 heaviest weights and all of them are Sectional Qualifiers. The upperweights will be anchored by State Qualifying heavyweight, Bob Williford and 2021 State Qualifier Johns Duggan. Cherokee Bluff's best wrestler is 3x State Placer, Hayden Biggs, he took 6th as a freshman, 4rd as a sophomore, and 4th last season. The Bears finished 2nd at the Region Duals last season, but if they want to return to the State Duals this year they will need to shore up the middle of their lineup.
Chestatee: The War Eagles bring back 13 starters from last season's Region Tournament. They advanced to the 2nd round of the State Duals, where they lost to Columbus by 1, and they finished 6th at the Traditional State Tournament. Chestatee does return four State Placers, but all of them were on the lower portion of the podium, so the War Eagles may be better suited in the Duals than the Traditional tournament, but they should do well at both. Chestatee returns a total of 12 sectional qualifiers with 6 of them advancing to Macon. Ely Raines, Angel Solorzano, and Daniel Zaleta, each placed 5th in Macon last season, but the highest state finisher was Chris Pruitt, who finished 4th at 113 lbs. Alexis Guardado advanced to the blood round and just missed placing at 106.
East Forsyth: The Broncos will enter the 2nd season with 9 wrestlers returning from last season's Region Tournament. They are a new program that is in the process of building their program. They have 7 returning State Qualifiers, but now one qualified for Macon in their inaugural year. Gavin Wilson came the closest to qualifying for State by finishing 8th at sectionals. East Forsyth will be better this season, but they still aren't in position to compete for a spot at the State Duals, especially in a Region that has this much talent and depth.
East Hall: The Vikings had one of their strongest teams in recent memory last year, as evidence of their 8th place finish at the Traditional State Tournament, but they did not qualify for the State Duals. They do return State Runner-up Caleb Pruitt at heavy weight, he is one of 3 returning State Qualifiers for East Hall. With 9 returning starters from last year, the Vikings will be a solid team with a tough core, but it may not be enough to finish in the top 4 in this Region. They will be competitive and could slip into the 4 spot, but they will need to shore up several spots in their light weights in order to do that.
Johnson, Gainesville: The Knights look to be constructed very similar to East Hall. They have 10 returning starters, but only 4 advanced to sectionals. Their returners are spread throughout the lineup, so that will help in getting all of them back in the lineup, but they only have 2 returning State Qualifiers. Jud Farmer finished 5th in the State last season and Guillermo Rosales advanced to the blood round in Macon. The Knights will be one of several teams that could sneak into the 4 spot in this Region, but they will not be much of a threat to win either Region Title.
Madison Co: The Red Raiders also return 10 starters from the Region Tournament, but they were able to advance 6 to sectionals. Jace Jachimski is the leading returning starter after finishing 5th at the State Tournament. Madison Co is right there with several other schools in terms of the number of returning starters, but they appear to be a little more talented from top to bottom than those who have similar numbers returning. They probably wont have quite enough talent to compete with Chestatee and North Hall for the Region Title, but they should be able to return to the State Duals this season.
North Hall: The Trojans finished 4th at the Region Duals this year setting up a 1st round match in the State Duals against Gilmer Co. They would lose that dual, but would rebound to finish 5th at Traditional State. North Hall is led by two returning State Finalists, Champion Conner Free and State Runner-up Zeke Harris. They also return 2 other State Qualifiers in Matthew Lee and Joey Carew, who advanced to the blood round last year. In total, North Hall returns 11 starters from last years Region Tournament, and they will go toe to toe with Chestatee for the Region Title.
North Oconee: The Titans have been hit harder by graduation than just about anyone over the last two seasons, and this year they only return 5 starters from the Region Tournament. What they do return is three top end talent wrestlers, that will help keep them close to the top 10 at the Traditional Tournament, but they will not be a factor in the Duals this season. Seniors Wyatt Anderson and Dom Lasher finished 5th and 3rd respectively last season, while junior Aaron Davis was your State Runner-up at 113 lbs. Lasher was the heaviest of the 3, and he wrestled at 132 last year, so the Titans will have to seriously rebuld their middle and upper weights for 2023 and beyond.
Seckinger: The Jaguars a first year school in Gwinnett Co and they look to have a pretty awesome color scheme going for them. They will be pulling students from Mill Creek and Mountain View.
Walnut Grove: The Warriors are the only team in the Region to have won a Region Title last season. They advanced to the 2nd round of the State Duals where they lost to Locust Grove 37-36. Walnut Grove has also been hit pretty hard by graduation over the past two years, but not quite as bad as North Oconee. The heart of their lineup is up top where they return 2x State Champion Landon Moss and State Runner-up Parker Warren. They also return 4 Sectional Qualifiers from the first 5 weights led by Zeb Dawkins, who finished 5th at 132. Their lineup is empty from 138 to 170 so if they want to once again compete for the State Duals, they will need to address their middle weights. While they probably wont be able to compete with the likes of Chestate and North Hall for the Region Crown, they could have enough returning to slide in at 3rd or 4th.
Region Dual Ranking:
2. North Hall
3. Madison Co
4. Walnut Grove
Traditional Region Ranking:
1. North Hall
3. Walnut Grove
4. Cherokee Bluff
Post Season Preview:
You could see as many as 4 teams finish in the top 10 at the Traditional Tournament in Macon, and up to 6 teams in the top 15. However some of the teams will be hurt at the Traditional tournament because the Region is just so tough and deep. Unless the bracket draw for State Duals is incredibly unfavorably, I fully expect to see at least 2 teams from this Region in the Elite 8, and up to 3 teams if the draw is really good. I also think you could see 1 or 2 teams in this Region compete for the State Title.
- There are two teams in the is Classification that won State Titles last season. Lovett swept both Championships in 2A and West Laurens swept both of them in 4A.
- 33 teams qualified for the State Duals last year with 7 of them advancing to the Elite 8, and 3 of them finishing in the top 4.
- You have 13 teams that finished inside the top 10 last season at the State Traditional Tournament in Macon.
- There are 109 returning State Qualifiers and 51 Returning State Placers. For reference there are 168 wrestlers at the State Tournament in each classification with 84 State Placers.
Ranking the Regions:
1. Region 8
2. Region 7
3. Region 5
4. Region 6
5. Region 2
6. Region 4
7. Region 1
8. Region 3
Most Equitable Sectional Splits:
Section A: Regions 1,2,4,8
Section B: Regions 3,5,6,7
Nightmare State Duals Draws:
I would really hate to see Region 7 and 8 have their Runner-ups draw into the same quadrant as the Champion from Region 2 or Region 5.
State Duals Champions:
Contenders: Chestatee, Heritage-Catoosa, Lovett, North Hall, Sonoraville, Troup Co, West Laurens
Traditional State Champions:
Contenders: Chestatee, Heritage-Catoosa, Lovett, North Hall, Sonoraville, Walnut Grove, West Laurens