For Ben Rainwater and Ethan Lanier of the Bowdon High School wrestling team, the chance to emerge victorious on the state's highest stage has finally arrived.
At 10 this morning, the Red Devil duo will compete against the best that Class A has to offer at the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships at the Macon Centreplex.
Entering the 113-pound bracket is the freshman Lanier, who is set to clash with Dawson Legg out of Commerce in his quarterfinal bout. The Bowdon newcomer qualified for state by finishing fourth at last Saturday's Class A West Sectional at Irwin County, a feat that was impressive considering that he only recently got back into action.
"He's been competing really hard and everybody's been asking, 'Where's he's been?' The first night at Temple, he broke a rib and was out until the week of area. He hadn't wrestled all year, so him making state makes it more special," Bowdon head coach Scot Raymond said. "A lot of what makes Ethan go is his desire to win. He's like a dog on a leash. As soon as you let go and that whistle blows, he's full speed."
Lanier is filled with anticipation for his first trek down to Macon.
"It feels pretty great making it my freshman year," Lanier said. "I'm just ready to go."
Qualifying for state with a third-place sectional finish in the 106-pound weight class is Rainwater, who will kick the morning off by battling Commerce's Bryson Flint. Raymond described his junior's determination and will to arrive to this point.
"He trains every day for this moment," Raymond said. "He watches videos, controls his diet, controls his workouts and goes to The Complex to work out when he can. He's a three seed heading in, so he's got as good a shot as anyone."
Relishing in the opportunity of finally making it to the big dance, Rainwater wants nothing short of standing on the podium at the very end.
"I've got big goals this weekend and my goal is to come out on top," Rainwater said.
Raymond and Red Devil assistant coach Scott Yates have spent this week getting the two grapplers prepared for their final test of the season. Once 10 a.m. rolls around on Friday, they want to see them give it their all.
"Both of these kids represent Bowdon with world class," Raymond said. "We want them to give everything that they have and see what happens. That's what we expect from all of our kids. We try to prepare them, but it's on them to do their best once they get there."