Traditional Wrestling State Championship Preview

The 2020 Traditional Wrestling State Tournament returns to the Macon Centreplex on Feb. 13-15. Across the seven classifications, 98 individual boys titles and seven team state championships will be awarded. Additionally, 10 individual girls state champions will be crowned for the second-consecutive year.

In the state’s largest classification, five-time defending traditional champion and three-time reigning Class AAAAAAA champion Camden County is back to headline the field. The Wildcats dominated the competition a year ago with a 223.5 finish that dwarfed second-place Collins Hill (146.5), third-place Mountain View (139) and fourth-place Brookwood (125). The Wildcats are the only Class AAAAAAA program that is qualified wrestlers in all 14 weight classes and will be looking take advantage of their depth. A total of 14 Class AAAAAAA programs qualified seven or more wrestlers and Brookwood, Collins Hill, Colquitt County and West Forsyth are each sending 11 wrestlers to Macon.

Class AAAAAAA looks to be wide open after Valdosta edged Pope for its first-ever traditional state title a year ago. The Wildcats will have just seven wrestlers competing this year, while Creekview (13), Richmond Hill (13), Brunswick (12) Alexander (11), Cambridge (11), Coffee (10), Pope (10), Sequoyah (9), South Paudling (9) and Lee County (8) are each arriving with more qualifiers. Pope defeated Valdosta (48-21), Brunswick (51-9), Creekview (28-26) and Richmond Hill (30-24) on its path to the dual state title in January.

In Class AAAAA, Woodland-Cartersville swept both titles last year and has positioned itself to record its second-straight sweep after defending its dual championship in convincing fashion this past month. Woodland is in great shape to succeed after qualifying 12 wrestlers for the state tournament, but the classification is filled with other programs that boast championship depth and potential. Buford joins Camden County as the only other program to qualify wrestlers at all 14 weight classes and Ola (12), Veterans, Walnut Grove (12), Ware County (10), Union Grove (10), Cass (9), Harris County (9), Loganville (9), South Effingham (9), Cass (9) and Riverwood (8) also possess ample depth.

Woodward Academy will look for its second-straight sweep of Class AAAA titles after toppling West Laurens (55-24), Cartersville (45-30), Blessed Trinity (50-28) and Gilmer (44-24) to capture back-to-back dual state titles last month. The War Eagles qualified 11 wrestlers and will take on a tough field that includes six more programs with double-digit qualifiers Northwest Whitfield (12), Central-Carroll (11), Perry (11), Blessed Trinity (10), Gilmer (10), North Oconee (10) and West Laurens (10), in addition to Flowery Branch (9) and Madison County (8).

History was made in Class AAA last February when first-place Sonoraville (172) and second-place North Hall (168.5) narrowly denied Jefferson (165.5) a traditional state title for the first time since 2000. Jefferson suffered a fourth-place finish at the duals last month as North Hall took the title, Sonoaraville placed runner-up and Jackson County earned third-place with its 32-29 win over the Dragons. North Hall leads the way in Class AAA with 13 total qualifiers with Sonoraville (12) and Jackson County (12) also ahead of Jefferson, which qualified nine wrestlers.

In Class AA, Social Circle won its fifth-straight traditional championship last year, but was recently defeated by Chattooga (59-21) in the Class AA Dual Finals. Social Circle will have just six wrestlers competing this weekend and Chattooga is arriving with nine state qualifiers. Additionally, Oglethorpe County (10), Banks County (8), Berrien (8), Dade County (8), Elbert County (8), Model (8), Rockmart (8), Screven County (8), Toombs County (7) and Vidalia (7) also qualified more wrestlers than the defending champs.

Similarly to Class AA, six-time defending traditional champion Commerce was toppled in last month’s duals—Trion defeated the Tigers (46-25) in the finals. Trion leads Class A with 12 wrestlers qualified for this weekend’s competition. Commerce qualified nine total wrestlers and Holy Innocents’ (10), Mt. Pisgah (10), Mt. Zion (10), George Walton Academy (8), Lanmark Christian (8), Wesleyan (8), Irwin County (7) and Turner County (7) will also feature sizeable depth.

Girls division gears up for exciting Year 2…

Last year marked the launch of the first-ever traditional girls state championships. The introduction of this separate competition followed a historic achievement that was celebrated at the 2018 state championships. It was that year when Statesboro’s Kasey Baynon made history by placing fifth in the boys Class AAAAA 106-pound bracket. In doing so she became the first-ever girl to place in the traditional wrestling state championships.

Baynon’s success and a growing interest behind the possibility of adding a girls division quickly became a reality and the new format made its debut this past February. State qualifiers in 10 different weight classes competed for individual girls titles. The weight classes were divided into 95, 106, 116, 126, 136, 146, 156, 166, 176 and 225. The 10 classes slightly shifted this year to 102, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152, 162, 172, 197 and 225-pound divisions. As a result, there will be a ton of intriguing storylines to keep an eye on.

In the newly-formed 102-pound division, Stephens County’s Athena Malik will headline the field as the top seed. Malik placed second last year in the 106-pound division and will be joined by Hiram’s Alana Washington and Mountain View’s Kennedy Shrophshire in an ultra-competitive bracket. Washington competed at 95 pounds last year and placed second while Shrophshire earned a second-place finish at 116 pounds a year ago.

North Gwinnett’s Dianna Holmes took home the state title at 106 last year with a win over Malik and qualified to compete at the 112-pound division this year. Holmes will have plenty of competition, including Temple’s Zoe East and Paulding County’s Savannah Lackey. East defeated Lackey in last year’s 106-pound consolation finals to earn a third-place finish.

Reigning 116-pound state champion Amani Jones will represent Ola in the 122-pound division this year. Also in the bracket will be Berrien’s Cecily Livingston and Baldwin’s Catherine Mullis. Last year, Livingston defeated Mullis in the consolation finals to finish third in the 116-pound division.

The 132-pound bracket is stacked with experience. Duluth’s Aki Choates enters as a top seed and won a state title at 126 pounds last year. North Paulding’s Glenda Veiga will also compete at 132 pounds after placing fourth in the 146-pound division last year. Harris County’s Sam Scarbrough earned a third-place finish at 126 last year and Stone Mountain’s Daisy Gilleylen is also competing at 132 after placing runner-up in the 136-pound division last year.

Defending 146-pound champion Sophia Eglian will represent North Forsyth as the top seed in this year’s 142-pound bracket. The rest of the field includes Hiram’s Tristen Music and White County’s Sidney Sullens. Music placed third at 136 last year and Sullens is back after a second-place finish in the 156-pound class.

Collins Hill’s Tiyahna Askew took the 156-pound championship last year and will be the top seed in the 152-pound class this weekend. Hiram’s Heaven Byrd will compete as the top seed in the 162-pound division after capturing the 166-pound championship last year.

Championship aspirations will be strong in the 172-pound division this weekend as well. Alexander’s Dream Santiago is the top seed and placed runner-up at 176 last year. Additionally, Jackson County’s Bre Lumley was a third-place finisher at 176 last year and Veterans’ Markayla Stewart will compete at 172 pounds after a second-place finish at 225 last year.

Meadowcreek’s Mi’Kel Jiles is the top seed in the 197-pound bracket and was a fourth-place finisher at 225 last year. Veterans’ Emilie Rohme placed fourth at 176 last year and qualified to take on the 197 field this year. Hiram’s K.J. Haney returns to defend her 225-pound crown this year against a field that includes Southeast Whitfield’s Teonna Bonds—last year’s third-place finisher.


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