Coming off of a top-20 finish in last season’s state tournament, the Creekview wrestling team went back to work looking to improve upon their 21-7 record and fourth place finish in Region 7AAAA last winter.
The team worked out four days a week from 7:30-9:30 a.m. in preparation for a series of duels that would take place throughout June.
The Grizzlies, with Logan Ridings (195 pounds), Hunter Smith (170), Austin Collett (152), Justin Pettyjohn (145) and Nate Bridges (106) started by defeating three-time defending Class AAA duals champion Gilmer and finished with a dual at Roswell. There they were in the same pool as state champions from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida, Vermont and Alabama.
Despite the stiff competition that Creekview faced at Roswell, assistant coach John Judkins felt that Creekview represented itself well.
“I think our kids were surprised at how they fared against some of the top teams that were there,” said Judkins, who was a four-time state qualifier when he wrestled at Pickens.
“We only brought half of the team since we had originally not planned to attend the tournament and many kids had left for vacations. While we didn’t win a dual due to the amount of forfeits we gave up, we won the majority of the matches that we actually wrestled. If we had only counted those we would have had multiple victories over state champions,” he said.
It was also at the Roswell Duals that Creekview gained what Judkins considers to be one of the most important attributes that a wrestler can have.
“Confidence,” said Judkins. “(Roswell) was a confidence builder for some of the kids. I think they saw that they could hang with any kid in the state.”
Judkins was quick to point out the importance of having Creekview’s wrestlers spend time together as a team in the off season.
“While I believe that wrestling is ultimately an individual sport, it takes your teammates to make you better. You spend a disproportionate amount of time with your teammates and coaches during the season and being able to build on those relationships is important,” he said.
For Judkins, the summer’s duals and workouts were essential in ensuring that the wrestling team came back in the fall on top of their game and one step ahead in their preparation for the coming season.
“We looked at (the summer workouts) like a classroom. The first few weeks of a math class are basically a review of the previous year’s material. The same holds true for a sport. By working out over the summer, it takes away that period of review and allows the wrestlers to concentrate more on fine tuning and conditioning when school starts,” the assistant coach said.
In preparation of the coming season, the Grizzlies will begin preseason weight training on Aug. 13, with their first practice being held on the last Monday of October.
For Judkins, the start to the season can’t come soon enough.
“We have a huge senior class this year. Out of our six state qualifiers, all but one are returning and that adds to our excitement,” said Judkins. “We just want to get as many kids as we can to believe in the program as possible. This is the time of year where you can drive yourself crazy thinking about all of the possibilities for the upcoming season. We just have to let things play out.”
The Grizzlies will begin their season on Nov. 21at Cambridge High in Fulton County.