A Fan's Guide to Georgia 2A State Tournament
We are excited to once again bring you "A Fan's Guide" to the GHSA State Tournament that are taking place this coming weekend at the Gwinnett Center. We are disappointed that the GHSA did not allow southeastwrestling.com to cover the state tournament. As a result, we are unable to provide any pics or follow-up coverage after each sectional tournament. Regardless, we are pleased to provide the casual fan an insider's look into each bracket and what may (or may not) happen over the course of the weekend. We make no predictions about who will win or grab one of the few spots on the podium For each weight class we provide a few bulletpoints to watch and then a copy of the bracket (which you can see for yourself on trackwrestling.com). Each weight class features:
- Favorite: Our favorite to win the weight class based on this past season and past performance.
- Contenders: A list of wrestlers that should challenge the favorite for the top step on the podium.
- Best 1st round match: The match we believe will be the closest during the 1st round of action.
- Darkhorse: A wrestler that did not finish 1st or 2nd in his/her area, but has all the tools to knock off everyone and take the top step.
- Predicted Finals Match: Obviously who we believe will be in the finals.
Individual Notes: SQ = 2015 State Qualifier; 1st = 2015 State Champ; 2nd = 2015 State Runner-up, etc.
- Favorite: Dalton Blankenship (Darlington)
- Josh Engstrom (Social Circle)
- Jordan Oaks (Bremen)
- Walker Byrd (Model)
- Best 1st Round Match: Deonte Williams vs. Walker Byrd
- Darkhorse: Walker Byrd
- Finals: Blankenship vs. Engstrom
- Summary: We do not have the state dual information (except for team scores) so we have no idea if Engstrom beat Oaks or Oaks beat Engstrom (or if they didn't meet). We did watch Jordan Oaks lose to Trey Lane of Brandon (FL) and Hunter Souders of Vestavia (AL) at the Heart of Dixie and watched Engstrom at the Archer Takedown Invitational. We also watch Blankenship at the Prep Slam in early January. Based on those matches (and his 4-2 win over Engstrom at last weekend's sectional tournament), we believe that Blankenship is the favorite. Keep an eye on Model's Walker Byrd. He didn't get a shot at Blankenship last weekend, but could in the semi's if he can get by Deonte Williams.
- Favorite: Keegan Smith (Bremen)
- Colton Woods (Darlington)
- Kyle Morris (Social Circle)
- Jacob Carroll (Bowdon)
- Best 1st Round Match: Jacob Carroll vs. Kendall Byrd
- Darkhorse: Kendall Byrd (Model)
- Finals: Smith vs. Woods
- Summary: Defending 106 lb. State champion Keegan Smith enters as the favorite. We don't know if Smith and Woods have faced one another this season, but we have seen both of them wrestle and if they can both advance ... that should be a great final. We did see Woods fall to Marist's Andrew Pace in the finals at the Prep Slam ... a very good performance for Woods and watch Smith beat Patterson Huff (and then lose to him as well) of Hoover at the Heart of Dixie. Keep an eye on both Kendall Byrd and Kyle Morris ... both are talented and coudl find themselves in the finals.
- Favorite: Austin Capes (Bremen)
- Grainger Reeves (Lovett)
- East Mathis (Armuchee)
- Cam Mack (Dublin)
- Best 1st Round Match: Easton Mathis vs. Ethan McKie
- Darkhorse: Ethan McKie (Fitzgerald)
- Finals: Capes vs. Reeves
- Summary: Defending 113 lb. State Champion Austin Capes enters as the favorite after a solid season and dominant Section B title run. Lovett's Grainger Reeves, a 2015 113 lb. State Placer, won Section A with a hard fought 5-2 win over Armuchee's Easton Mathis. Keep an eye on both Cam Mack and Easton Mathis. The Mathis vs. McKie 1st round match should be one of the best in 2A.
- Favorite: Levi Leach (Social Circle)
- Chance Mitchell (Fitzgerald)
- Davis Peek (Darlington)
- Mathew Barajas (Crawford County)
- Best 1st Round Match: Mathew Barajas vs. Austin Phan
- Darkhorse: Koby Cook (Bremen)
- Finals: Leach vs. Mitchell
- Summary: Returning 2A 120 lb. State Runner-up Levi Leach is the odds on favorite to claim the top step at 126. Leach was impressive en route to the Section A title a week ago. He downed Chase Kelly of Wesleyan 9-2 in the semifinals and pinned Davis Peek of Darlington in the finals. Fitzgerald's Chance Mitchell was equally impressive in taking the Section B title. Mitchell had an 11-4 win over Dylan Kelly and a 9-2 win over Mathew Barajas in the finals. Keep an eye on the potential Davis Peek vs. Chance Mitchell semifinal on the bottom side ... it should be a good one.
- Favorite: Travis Tyson (Social Circle)
- Morgan Mitchell (Fitzgerald)
- Frank Houser (Pace)
- Casey Jones (Bremen)
- Best 1st Round Match: Casey Jones vs. William Delk
- Darkhorse: William Delk (Wesleyan)
- Finals: Tyson vs. Mitchell
- Summary: State Placer vs. State Placer in the finals? Seems like a distinct possibility. Tyson, a 2A State Placer in 2015, beat Houser 9-5 in the finals in Section A and Mitchell, a 1A State Placer in 2015, beat Jones 6-3 in Section B. Both Jones and Houser should challenge Tyson and Mitchell in the semi's, but at the moment it seems like it will be Tyson vs. Mitchell. Keep an eye on Wesleyan's William Delk. Delk, a 2015 State Placer at 126, lost a narrow 9-7 decision to Houser and should give Jones a great match in bout 2018.
- Favorite: James Corasaniti (Social Circle)
- Payton McKie (Fitzgerald)
- Rhett McDurmon (Darlington)
- Preston Decker (Temple)
- Best 1st Round Match: Preston Decker vs. Zach Murdock
- Darkhorse: Zach Murdock (Gordon Lee)
- Finals: Corasaniti vs. McKie
- Summary: McKie and the rest of the field are tough, but it would be a surprise to see anyone but Corasaniti on the top step on Saturday afternoon. Corasaniti, the defending 132 lb. State Champion, has just one loss on the season and that came in the finals of the Archer Takedown Invitational to Father Ryan's (TN) Eli King. Keep an eye on freshman Rhett McDurmon. He has beaten several good wrestlers this season and could pose a problem on the bottom side of the bracket.
- Favorite: PJ Johnson (Lovett)
- Reid Harris (Social Circle)
- Chris Eriquezzo (Bremen)
- Quartarius Smith (Dublin)
- Best 1st Round Match: Quartarius Smith vs. Ian Politz
- Darkhorse: Ian Politz (Greater Atlanta Christian)
- Finals: Johnson vs. Harris
- Summary: Great weight class. From a fan's perspective, the 145 lb. weight class (in all classifications), might be the most fan-friendly weight class of the tournament. Lovett's PJ Johnson, a 152 lb. State Placer, knocked off defending 138 lb. State Champion Reid Harris 3-2 in the Section A finals a week ago and Chris Eriquezzo of Bremen, a 126 lb. State Placer, pinned Quartarius Smith of Dublin in the 1st period of the Section B finals. When a returning State Runner-up, Ian Politz of Greater Atlanta Christian, is your darkhorse ... you know you have a great bracket. Overall this weight class should feature some of the best matches.
- Favorite: Joseph Stroud (Bremen)
- Braden Jarvis (Gordon Lee)
- Mitchell Clegg (Social Circle)
- John Williams (East Laurens)
- Best 1st Round Match: John Williams vs. Eliot Layson
- Darkhorse: Eliot Layson (Lovett)
- Finals: Jarvis vs. Stroud
- Summary: Everyone is chasing returning 152 lb. State Champion Joseph Stroud. Stroud has been a beast all season and it will take a herculean effort from someone in the field to knock him off the top step. Returning State Qualifier Braden Jarvis knocked off returning State Placer Mitchell Clegg 6-2 to claim the top spot on the top side of the bracket ... which means we will likely see a Social Circle vs. Bremen semifinal (unless Dalston Thomas can say something about that). Keep an eye on the Williams vs. Layson 1st round match.
- Favorite: Drew Cook (Bremen)
- Trey Paschal (Social Circle)
- Jack Carbery (Benedictine)
- George Bielan (Wesleyan)
- Best 1st Round Match: Carbery vs. Garrett
- Darkhorse: Grant Garrett (Lovett)
- Finals: Paschal vs. Cook
- Summary: Paschal edged Bielan in overtime to take the Section A title, Cook destroyed the field to claim the Section B title. We don't have the state dual results so we don't know if Paschal and Cook wrestled, but we have seen Cook several times this season and he is a beast. Given his matches with Hayden Hill of Vestavia and Barrett Blakely of Oak Mountain ... we believe he is the man to beat. Keep an eye on a very tough George Bielan of Wesleyan.
- Favorite: Jacob Bumgardner (Bremen)
- Cade Lackey (Social Circle)
- Bryant Verspille (Dublin)
- Brooks Layson (Lovett)
- Drake Byrd (Model)
- Best 1st Round Match: Versprille vs. Byrd
- Darkhorse: Wyatt Montgomery (Jeff Davis)
- Finals: Lackey vs. Bumgardner
- Summary: Social Circle vs. Bremen again in the finals? Seems likely. Once again without the state duals results we are in the dark about whether Lackey and Bumgardner wrestled earlier and if they did ... who won. Regardless they are the two best in the weight class and all of those matches are in the past ... the only one that matters is Saturday afternoon. Versprille, Byrd, Layson, and Montgomery are tough, but it is unlikely if any of them will beat Lackey or Bumgardner.
- Favorite: Cameron Paschal (Social Circle)
- Noah Liles (Bremen)
- Jacob Henderson (Armuchee)
- Zyshonne Holliman (East Laurens)
- Best 1st Round Match: Holliman vs. Seawright
- Darkhorse: Tyler Seawright (Monticello)
- Finals: Paschal vs. Liles
- Summary: Another Social Circle vs. Bremen final? It seems likely. Henderson and Holliman are tough and should give Paschal and Liles a match in the semifinals (assuming they get by Seawright and Turner), but neither is likely to knock off the top seeds. Paschal, the returning 160 lb. State Champion, had to earn a tough 9-7 win over Henderson in the Section A finals, whereas Liles, a 2015 State Placer, obliterated the Section B field with 2 falls and an 18-2 technical fall. Keep an eye on the Liles vs. Henderson semifinal ... it could be a good one.
- Favorite: David Engstrom (Social Circle)
- Devin Johnson (Vidalia)
- Dakota Willerson (Model)
- Donterious Milsap (Fitzgerald)
- Best 1st Round Match: Milsap vs. Jones
- Darkhorse: Austin Jones (Chattahoochee County)
- Finals: Engstrom vs. Johnson
- Summary: Defending 195 lb. State Champion David Engstrom is the prohibitive favorite entering his last state tournament. Engstrom easily handled the Section A field a week ago - securing 2 falls and a 7-2 decision over Runner-up Dakota Willerson in the finals. Vidalia's Devin Johnson, a 2015 State Placer at 195, had 3 1st period falls to take the Section B title. His potential semifinal with Willerson will be one to watch. Both Johnson and Willerson are returning State Placers.
- Favorite: Aiden Jarrett (Greater Atlanta Christian)
- Markarius Lundy (Fitzgerald)
- Jaquil O'Neal (Dublin)
- Jack Walsh (Pace)
- Best 1st Round Match: O'Neal vs. Anglin
- Darkhorse: Chris Anglin (Monticello)
- Finals: Jarrett vs. Lundy
- Summary: Great weight class. Jarrett beat a tough field with relative ease last weekend to take the Section A title and Lundy had to outlast O'Neal 3-2 to capture the Section B title. Jarrett, Lundy, and Walsh all returning State Placers. Meaning this weight class will be a grind. Jarrett's domination of the sectional bracket puts him as our favorite, but Lundy, Jaquil O'Neal, Walsh, Anglin, and Cole O'Neal are close.
- Favorite: Paul Robinson (Bremen)
- Peyton Backer (Rabun County)
- CJ Wright (Screven County)
- Ryan Harris (Social Circle)
- Best 1st Round Match: Wright vs. Jones
- Darkhorse: Keith Jones (Dade County)
- Finals: Robinson vs. Backer
- Summary: Returning State Runner-up Paul Robinson has been wrestling great and after dominating the Section B bracket last week, he enters as the favorite. Peyton Backer of Rabun County is unbeaten at 27-0 and should be Robinson's chief competition. But don't overlook anyone on the top side of the bracket (including Trenton Mathis of Jeff Davis) ... each has the ability to be in the finals. Harris, Bishop, and Monroe will need to wrestle extremely well if they are going to take out Robinson on the bottom side.