Teams must finish among the top two of their region to guarantee a spot at next week’s state duals in Macon.
Creekview seems poised above its other county rivals to advance. As the winners of its annual invitational, this week’s Bulldog Slam at Cedartown and the runner-up of last week’s 37-team Tiger Holiday Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C., Grizzlies coach Wyatt Wilkie feels his team is one of the favorites in the Region 7AAAAA duals, which will take place Saturday at Pope.
“If we don’t go to state, it’ll be an upset in my mind,” Wilkie said. “I think that, if we wrestle the way that we have so far this year, we’ll go for sure. Next weekend, I expect to be there.”
With the success his team has experienced so far this year, Wilkie expects his team to be in the right mindset for the region duals.
“I think (our squad) is pretty confident, but not overconfident,” he said. “It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but our guys are prepared.”
As the No. 2 seed behind Pope, Creekview will avoid the possibility of facing the host Greyhounds, who swept last year’s Class AAAA dual and traditional state championships, until the final.
Also wrestling in the 7AAAAA tournament will be Sequoyah, with coach James Sanchez projecting his squad to be seeded seventh or eighth of the region’s 10 teams.
“I’m not going in with any kind of expectations of going to state. I just want to see our kids get better on the mat,” Sanchez said. “I just want to see improvement on the stuff we’ve been working on.”
In Saturday’s Region 5AAAAAA duals, Woodstock, Etowah, and Cherokee will be tasked with trying to get past perennial powerhouses and top seeds Lassiter and Roswell if they hope to achieve a state berth.
Etowah coach Charles Higdon said his squad has been looking forward to the region duals since the season first started.
“This date has been circled on our calendar for a while,” Higdon said. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time. Region competitions are kind of what you gear up for all year.”
As the second seed in one half of the bracket, just behind tournament host Roswell, Higdon believes that finishing inside of the top two is an acceptable result for the Eagles.
“At the beginning of the year, finishing in the top two (at region) was a minimum,” Higdon said. “We have a pretty decent team, so we are definitely optimistic about it. We’ve been wrestling fairly well lately.”
Woodstock, meanwhile, will look to perform well under the direction of third-year coach Michael Powell.
“Our team is so young, but we are more than capable of winning several duals at the region level,” said Powell, whose Wolverines are a No. 4 seed. “If I have ever had a year in which I expected more than the others, it would be this year.”
Cherokee will have a tough road ahead of itself before it can clinch a spot in Macon, first having to contend with Lassiter in its opening match.
River Ridge, encountering youth and inexperience with a first-year coach, will compete in the Region 7AAAA duals at Cedartown.