Several local prep wrestling standouts gained clearance for the mats of Macon by clearing the sectional hurdle on Saturday across four different classifications. Carrollton and Villa Rica delivered strong showings at the Class AAAAA West Sectional in Buford, while Central qualified five out of the AAAA West Sectional at Woodward Academy. In the lower classifications, Heard County and Temple pushed a handful through from the AA West Sectional at Rockmart and Mount Zion and Bowdon are sending their top representatives from the A West Sectional at Irwin County.
The GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships are set for next Thursday-Saturday at the Macon Centreplex, where Class AAAAA and Class AAAA will feature 16-man brackets, while Classes AAA-A will stack up in eight-man brackets.
Here's a rundown of all the local state qualifiers:
Class AAAAA West Sectional at Buford
The Trojans took eight to sectionals and are sending the entire group on to Macon following a strong performance in Gwinnett County over the past two days.
With the top-eight finishers advancing in Class AAAAA, Carrollton was powered by second-place showings from Luke Frost (106) and Grant McKinley (170), while Jacob Walsingham (152), Hunter Cantoral (160) and Chase Sippola (195) placed third, Brent Parivechio (120) and Kaleb Thomaston (145) came in fourth and Brock Bibbee finished sixth (182).
"I'm just super-proud of our guys. They wrestled really well. We've just got three more days to see how we're going to do in the state tournament," Carrollton head coach Michael Cleek said. "It's what I said last week. We are in an incredibly tough area. If we could just survive our area and get into the sectional, we felt like our kids were good enough to go on to the state tournament. They proved me right. They didn't let us down at all."
Villa Rica is also sending three qualifiers to Macon, as Tripp Sauls (106) finished third, followed by Aaron Brown (160) and Tyler Cohran (220) both placing fifth.
Class AAAA West Sectional at Woodward Academy
The Lions brought 13 area qualifiers to sectionals, but only pushed five on to the next round in Macon after a difficult outing this weekend.
Jason Konoval (220) marked the top finisher in fifth place, followed by Zane Simmons (113) and C.J. Shadinger (120) in sixth and Pierce Simmons (126) and Sam Conerly (170) in seventh. Dakota Ison (hvy.) came in ninth and Nick Montalto (195) took 10th and both will serve as alternates.
"It was kind of a tough day at the office, in general. Obviously, the competition was very tough, but we didn't really have a good day on the mat," Central head coach Jereme Fountain said. "It's just not a tournament you can afford to have a bad day on the mat at. But we did get five through. It definitely doesn't help your seeding for next week, but when you get to next week, it's all decided next week. You want to make it into next week, and that was the goal. Now that we're there, we'll see what we can do."
Class AA West Sectional at Rockmart
John Austin Robinson led the Temple contingent on Saturday by finishing as the sectional champion at 170 pounds, while fellow senior Preston Hulsey (145) is also returning to Macon following his fourth-place finish. Will Barningham (132) placed fifth and will be an alternate for the Tigers.
For Heard County, it is sending four qualifiers to Macon for a second straight season.
Logan Moran (220) led the Braves with a runner-up performance, while Gage Cannon (145) placed third and Kevin Hendrix (126) and Sam Brown (195) both finished fourth. Wyn Denney (182) took fifth and will be an alternate.
Heard County head coach Kyle Yates was proud of the effort from his group and he looks for big things out of it in Macon next weekend.
"I'm excited about it. We pushed four through last year and we got four through again this year. But I feel like this year the four that we got through have a really good shot to be a state-placer, which is awesome for our program and for those kids," Yates said. "So we're looking forward to going down there."
Class A West Sectional at Irwin County
Mount Zion is sending all five of its sectional qualifiers on to Macon courtesy of a quality performance Saturday.
Cade Barrow (182) and Case Jiles (195) once again led the way in second place, while Bryce Hill (145) took third and Que Beasley (120) and Sam Acord (138) both came in fourth. Hill and Acord are first-time state qualifiers, while Barrow, Jiles and Beasley are making return appearances on the state stage.
"I tell you what, I'm pretty proud. We worked hard this week and it paid off. I'm happy for them," MZ head coach Allen Newton said. "We had five go last year and five this year, so I can live with that. I'm pretty happy right now."
Bowdon had two grapplers punch their ticket to Macon on Saturday with Ben Rainwater (106) finishing third and Ethan Lanier (113) taking fourth. Logan Buchanan (220) and Ashton Hendrix (hvy.) both finished sixth and will be alternates.