Making the trip down to Macon for the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships has become an annual pilgrimage for Temple High School seniors John Austin Robinson and Preston Hulsey.
Come 10 a.m. this morning, the veteran Tiger tandem will try to leave it all on the line one final time at the Macon Centreplex.
With multiple state appearances under their belts, Robinson (170) and Hulsey (145) are well-versed in the mindset needed to succeed at Class AA's highest level and head coach Caleb Hannah certainly knows this. That's why the two seniors have been able to relax and let loose over these past few days.
"I've told these guys that at this point, they know what they know," Hannah said. "They've gotten themselves here to this point, so we've just been having fun and taking it easy these last couple of days."
Emerging from last week's Class AA West Sectional in Rockmart as champion of his weight class, Robinson will open his third state appearance versus Jordan Bavaro out of Jeff Davis. With it being his final foray into Macon, he's trying to go out with a bang.
"It's exciting, but kind of sad that these are the last three matches of my life in high school, so I'll try to make the most of it," Robinson said.
He'll also look to finally take home his first individual state title, especially after last year where he finished as a runner-up in excruciating fashion.
"Getting second was a heartbreak, especially after losing by one point," Robinson said. "It's driven me to try to improve myself. Now I feel like I have a shot at winning it all."
Also looking to break through is Hulsey, who has now qualified for state for a fourth time. Tweaking his knee at last week's sectional, the senior dropped a hard-fought match against Heard County's Gage Cannon to finish fourth. Now opening the tournament against Northeast Macon's Lamarkicus Pounds, he feels like he has the will to go the distance.
"I'm confident that I have the ability to win at 145 pounds, skill-wise," Hulsey said. "No matter where I'm seeded, I have to beat the best to be the best."
Hannah is hoping both of his guys will have the opportunity to cap their respective careers on the grand stage of the finals at 3 p.m. on Saturday. With the success both have had at Temple, he wants to see them lay it all on the line.
"I'm just proud of them pushing through and doing what they know they had to do and setting a good example for my younger kids," Hannah said "This week, we've been kind of reminiscing on their careers and how well they've done. It's not everything in the world, but it is important for them to leave everything they have out there one last time."