The Bremen High School wrestling program once again stamped itself as a state powerhouse this year with sweeps of the dual and traditional state titles.
At the forefront of that dominant display were juniors Paul Robinson and Noah Liles.
The pair of Blue Devil standouts were selected as the 2016-17 Times-Georgian All-Area Co-Upper Weight Wrestlers of the Year, following in the footsteps of former teammate Jacob Bumgardner, who won the award last year.
Along with senior Drew Cook, the tandem captured individual state championships in February with Liles winning in the 170-pound weight class, while Robinson was once again crowned the king of the heavyweights, earning his second straight state title.
Bremen head coach Tony Armas noted how these two workhorses began their state title drive well before the prep season started.
"They had great years," Armas said. "It all started kind of early for both of them. They wrestled in a lot of big tournaments in the offseason, so they made a dedication to being successful. It kind of shows when they compete."
Finishing with a 46-1 record, the only blemish coming during area tournament, Robinson successfully defended his title in Macon to win back-to-back heavyweight crowns. While most can't handle having the target on their back, he embraced it.
"It was definitely nerve-racking knowing that you're on top from the year before. It's definitely harder to stay on top than it is to get there," Robinson said. "Everybody is after you because you have a big target on your back, so you have to do all you can to stay up there. Winning it again shows that hard work pays off with coming in every day and working hard."
Armas described what it took for Robinson to retain his spot at the top.
"It's always tough on heavyweights because they very rarely have solid workout partners in the room," Armas said. "So Paul and his family made a dedicated effort on weekends to get him to places where he can face some good practice partners. Hopefully, we can eventually get some people in here that can push Paul."
Coming through with his first state championship was Liles, who went a perfect 47-0 throughout his junior campaign. It was a long time coming after two years of near misses.
"It was a heartbreaking experience going down there my freshman and sophomore years and not winning," Liles said. "Finally breaking through this past year felt pretty great and I'll really enjoy having the chance to stay on top and do it again next year. Hard work and dedication to the sport shows how much you care and how much you put into the team as a leader."
Armas credited Liles for his relentlessness attack to where he was never in serious jeopardy of losing matches.
"It was just believing that he was going to be successful and battling for every point," Armas said. "He didn't have a lot of close matches because he just went out there and made sure he scored quite a few points so that it didn't come down to the very end of matches. By the end of the match, he was up by five or six or seven instead of just being up one or two."
The two juniors are already looking forward to their senior campaigns where they're primed to lead one of the top program in the entire state. Bremen wrestling is on top and they want to keep it that way.
"It's pretty awesome to say that we're one of the best programs in the state through all classifications," Robinson said. "There's not a lot of teams in any sport that can say that. So knowing that we can hang with and beat anybody in the state is an awesome feeling."