The grand finale of the GHSA Traditional State Wrestling Championships are finally on the horizon and the qualifying members of the Mount Zion High School team are trying to approach the Class A brackets like any other high-stakes competition.
Five Eagle grapplers qualified for state at last Saturday's Class A West Sectional at Irwin County, where Que Beasley (120), Sam Acord (138), Bryce Hill (145), Cade Barrow (182), and Case Jiles (195) will all be battling for the right to call themselves state champions this Friday when the action starts at 10 a.m. at the Macon Centreplex.
"I feel confident," said the senior Beasley on Monday. "It's my last year so I want to do my best."
Ending up with five state qualifiers for a second year in a row, MZ head coach Allen Newton is thrilled to once again be spending the first full week of February preparing a handful of guys for the big stage of state.
"I was really happy that we got five through this past Saturday," Newton said. "We had practice (Monday) morning and the guys went real hard. They've been working really hard and, for the most part, they seemed relaxed."
And being relaxed and loose for this weekend is the exact mindframe that the head coach wants his guys to be in come Friday. The trio of Beasley, Barrow and Jiles are each making their second appearances at state, while Acord and Hill are making their respective debuts.
Regardless of experience, succeeding in Macon will be about simply doing what got them there in the first place.
"I just tell the guys, it's just another tournament. It's a big deal, but I don't want them to get in their own head and not wrestle like they can," Newton said. "Que, Case and Cade all know what it's like and what to expect because they've been there before. Luckily, Bryce and Sam have been there with us when we've gone to state in areas, so they have a familiarity in knowing what it's going to look like and the amount of people that are going to be there. I'm hoping that they all just show up relaxed and have a good tournament. Just go out there, do what we've done all year and see what happens."
Finishing first in area and second at sectionals in his respective weight class, Barrow is locked in on delivering one final strong performance on the mats for his career at MZ.
"We have to be relaxed, but we have to stay focused as well because this is it, especially for me and Que," Barrow said.
Weigh-ins for Class A will start at 8 a.m. on Friday before the quarterfinal matches get underway at 10 a.m.
Seeing his guys hit the mats one last time this winter, the final results won't really matter to Newton. As long as his guys battle as hard as they can at the Macon Centreplex, he'll be pleased with their season no matter what.
"I've already told them that I'm proud of them," Newton said. "I don't care if they go 0-2 or win it all. As long as they give it everything they've got and do what they can do, then we can't ask for much more than that."