Georgia Class 1A State Tournament Fan's Guide
We are excited to bring you "A Fan's Guide" to the GHSA State Tournaments that are taking place this coming weekend in Macon, Georgia. 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. 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.
- Darkhorse: A wrestler that did not finish 1st or 2nd in his/her section, 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.
A few notes before we have a look at each weight class. First, we provide a copy of the bracket (a screenshot from trackwrestling) at the bottom of each "narrative". Second, it is important to state that much of what is written below is not revolutionary. It has some opinion, but is largely based on data. We are limited in the amount of data we have because not every program in the state uses trackwrestling to provide results. As a result, we collect tournament results throughout the season and pour over those results when trying to construct the Fan's Guide. If wrestler x lost to wrestler y in a dual on a Tuesday night in late January ... it will not likely be reflected in the Fan's Guide. In the Tempest by William Shakespeare, Antonio uses the phrase "What's past is prologue" to suggest that everything that happened before now, has led to the opportunity that now sits before you. As a result, we use a few #'s as context for why we have chosen certain wrestlers in the the categories identified above. Remember ... this is not designed as a prediction. Rather it is designed to help those sitting in the stands understand our great sport and what to watch over the next two days.
- A Favorite will almost always be one of the two sectional champions ... and the list of contenders will have the other sectional champion and both sectional runners-up as well. The list of contenders might include other wrestlers, but it will always include the sectional champions and runners-up. The reason ... 12 of the 14 2016 6A State Champions were Sectional Champions (Elias was a runner-up at sectionals at 160 and Bardall was 3rd at sectionals at 285). In fact, all but 8 of the finalists last season were sectional champions (with many of the non-sectional champions being runenrs-up to the other finalist the week before).
- North Forsyth's Jackson Bardall is a good example of a non-section champion or runner-up coming through on the biggest stage. Bardall lost in the 6A Section A quarterfinals last season, but turned that around and took the top spot at the state tournament ... there is always a chance that a darkhorse will come through and win it all.
NOTE: I have tried to correct any incorrect names or grades, but I'm certain a few have slipped through the cracks. Apologies for anyone that has incorrect information posted in the brackets ... the summaries are written largely from what has been produced in the brackets. Also if an alternative has been included and a wrestler has been removed because of injury ... please keep in mind that it takes several days to write the Fan's Guides and we are unable to go back and check (and correct) anything updated after Monday.
- Commerce is easily #1. The defending team champs bring 13 with 10 section champs and will win this one going away. The biggest question is whether they can best their team score from last year.
- Tier 1
- The battle for second should be fierce. Wesleyan, Irwin County, and Trion seem to have the inside track on the runner-up position. Wesleyan brings 9 and Irwin County and Trion each bring 8 to Macon this weekend. Trion has 3 section champs and Wesleyan and Irwin County each have 1. Wesleyan might have a bit of an edge because six of their 9 finished either 1st or 2nd ... if Conley can get a first round win, Wesleyan might have 7 in the semifinals. Irwin County has just 3 that finished 1st or 2nd and might need Rico Ashley, Nathan Tucker, Keegan Moore, and Davion Pollard to pull an upset if they are going to keep a 2nd place in their sight. Trion has 5 that placed 1st or 2nd and will need those five and Lincoln Maddux to wrestle well to maintain pace with Wesleyan. None are likely to be close to Commerce as we finish the 1st championship and consolation round.
- Tier 2
- Gordon Lee, Turner County, and Darlington seem the most likely remaining teams to push for a top 3 finish. Lee qualified 8, but 5 finished either 1st or 2nd. They should push the top teams for a top 3 finish. Turner County qualified 7, but trail Lee and the others because just 3 finished 1st or 2nd ... meaning some 3's and 4's will need to wrestle well if they are going to push for a top 5 spot. Can Zion Blackshear, Chandler Crawford, and Josh Frager win their first match and be one away from a spot in the final? Darlington qualifiers just 4, but all four won their section and should be considered favorites to make the finals on Saturday. If that happens, they will pressure the teams above them for a top 5 finish.
- Tier 1
- Favorite: Brandon Shelnutt (SO) - Strong Rock Christian
- Wright Walker (FR) - Irwin County
- Thomas Ashley (SO) - George Walton
- Hunter Burnett (FR) - Gordon Lee
- Darkhorse: Josh Frager (JR) - Turner County
- Finals: Walker vs. Shelnutt
- What to Watch: 2016 1a 106 lb. State Placer Brandon Shlenutt has been impressive all season and assumes the favorite spot. He and Walker both tallied 3 falls each en route to their sectional titles. It would be a surprise if they didn't advance to the finals. Josh Frager, 1A 113 lb. State Runner-up in 2016, finished 3rd in Section A and should be considered a threat to advance as well. Keep an eye on Ashley vs. Frager and Burnett vs. Moon.
- Favorite: Dalton Blankenship (SO) - Darlington
- Karlos Nadal (JR) - Mt Pisgah
- Jackson Scofield (SO) - Mt De Sales
- Tucker Miller (FR) - Gordon Lee
- Darkhorse: Chandler Crawford (JR) - Turner County
- Finals: Blankenship vs. Nadal
- What to Watch: Blankenship vs. Nadal is pretty much a forgone conclusion. Both have had outstanding seasons and each was dominant en route to a section title last weekend ... plus both have been here and done that in previous seasons. Blankenship is the defending 2A 106 lb. State Champion and Nadal in the returning 1A 106 lb. State Runner-up. Schofield, Crawford, Miller, etc. will be competitive, but it would be a surprise if it weren't a Nadal vs. Blankenship final.
- Favorite: Tucker Flint (SO) - Commerce
- Johnny Burgess (SO) - Turner County
- Jamey Floyd (SO) -Trion
- Harrison Dearth (SO) - Wesleyan
- Darkhorse: Andy Meyer (SO) - Eagles Landing Christian
- Finals: Burgess vs. Flint
- What to Watch: Flint is the defending 1A 106 lb. State Champion and won the Section B title last weekend. Burgess is a returning 1A 120 lb. State Qualifier, but looked very good last weekend against Jamey Floyd of Trion, a 2016 State Placer, to capture the Section A title. Dearth pushed Flint in the B final and could pose a challenge for Burgess on the top side, assuming he can get past Meyer. Good weight class that is fairly evenly matched.
- Favorite: Colton Woods (SO) - Darlington
- Kole Burchett (JR) - Commerce
- Jack Hale (SR) - Mt Vernon
- Tyson Brooks (SR) - Treutlen
- Darkhorse: Brian Rodriguez (FR) - Athens Christian
- Finals: Woods vs. Burchett
- What to Watch: State Champ vs. State Champ! Woods, the defending 2A 113 lb. State Champ, and Burchett, the defending 1A 113 lb. State Champ, both won their sections and appear headed to a showdown on Saturday. Add in Jack Hale, 1A 126 lb. State Runner-up in 2016, and Tyson Brooks, 1A 126 lb. State Placer, and you have an outstanding bracket. Burchett vs. Brooks and Woods vs. Hale will be some very semifinal matches ... if they each advance.
- Favorite: Davis Peek (JR) - Darlington
- Patrick Morris (FR) - George Walton
- Payton Brooks (JR) - Treutlen
- Matthew Barajas (JR) - Crawford County
- Darkhorse: Mark Watson (SR) - North Cobb Christian
- Finals: Peek vs. Morris
- What to Watch: Very competitive weight. Peek, the 2016 2A 126 lb. State Runner-up, narrowly downed Payton Brooks, the 2016 1A 120 lb. State Runner-up, 4-3 to claim the Section A title a week ago. Morris, on the other hand, dominated in Section B. A Brooks vs. Morris semifinal looks like a good one. Barajas vs. Watson is the best 1st round match-up, with the winner getting Peek. Don't sleep on Colin Mulvany, he was 1 match from the top 4 in 2016.
- Favorite: Dalton Flint (SR) - Commerce
- Cole Luallen (JR) - Trion
- Kyle Jones (JR) - Irwin County
- Turner Gill (SR) - Holy Innocents
- Darkhorse: Cal Helton (SR) - Mt Zion
- Finals: Luallen vs. Flint
- What to Watch: Flint beat Luallen 2-1 to take the 1A 132 lb. title a year ago ... can Luallen turn the tables this time around? But the two shouldn't look past the rest of the field ... Gill, Helton, Brown, Jones, Kellogg, and Morris can all make that rematch vanish. Keep an eye on Gill vs. Helton - it should be the best 1st round match at 138.
- Favorite: Rhett McDurmon (SO) - Darlington
- Jake Brewer (SR) - Commerce
- Crofford Helton (SR) - Mt Zion
- Blaine Rogers (SO) - Towns County
- Darkhorse: Rico Ashley (SO) - Irwin County
- Finals: McDurmon vs. Brewer
- What to Watch: McDurmon, Brewer and Helton headline the 145 lb. weight class. McDurmon finished 2nd last season to James Corisaniti of Social Circle and is looking for the top step in 2017. His 3-0 win over 2016 1A 145 lb. State Runner-up Cal Helton of Mt Zion in last weekend's Section A final showed he is ready to take the next step. Brewer dominated Section B and a Helton vs. Brewer semifinal seems like a real possibility. Keep an eye on the Blaine Rogers vs Rico Ashley 1st round match ... it should be the best one at 145.
- Favorite: William Delk (SR) - Wesleyan
- Collin Greer (SR) - Landmark Christian
- Nick Patrick (SO) - Commerce
- Jay Morrow (SO) - Turner County
- Darkhorse: Zach Murdock (SO) - Gordon Lee
- Finals: Greer vs. Delk
- What to Watch: Another very good weight class that features a number of different wrestlers that have the ability to take the top step. Collin Greer of Landmark Christian had a fall and then 2 major decisions en route to the Section A title. William Delk of Wesleyan had to outlast Nick Patrick of Commerce 3-2 to take the Section B title. The top side is tough with Greer, Patrick and Zach Murdock of Gordon Lee. Morrow and Hall both missed a spot in the top 4 last year by one match ... so that 1st round match should be a good one.
- Favorite: Owen Brown (SR) - Commerce
- Cameo Blankenship (FR) - Telfair County
- Ben Connor (JR) - Wesleyan
- Jarrett Lessetter (JR) - Gordon Lee
- Darkhorse: Case Jiles (SO) - Mt Zion
- Finals: Blankenship vs. Brown
- What to Watch: Defending State Champion Owen Brown is easily the favorite at 160. He has been a force all season and has beaten many of the top 160's in other classifications (as well as surrounding states). Blankenship looked good in capturing the Section A title and should be favored on the top side of the bracket. He has a tough opening round match against Ryan Abrahams (1-2 in 2016 state tournament at weight) and then gets the winner of Connor (who injury defaulted to Brown in last weekend's Section B final) vs. Jiles. Lassetter vs. Swift looks like a good match-up on paper.
- Favorite: Chase Forrester (JR) - Commerce
- Braden Jarvis (JR) - Gordon Lee
- Ian Blankenship (JR) - Telfair County
- Grant Marshall (SR) - Wesleyan
- Darkhorse: Cole Helton (JR) - Mt Zion
- Finals: Jarvis vs. Forrester
- What to Watch: Excellent weight class that features Chase Forrester, the 2016 1A 160 lb. State Champion, Braden Jarvis, the 2016 2A 152 lb. State Runner-up, and Ian Blankenship, the 2016 1A 170 lb. State Runner-up. Forrester dominated the Section B tournament and Jarvis pinned Blankenship in overtime to take the Section A title. Add in a tough Grant Marshall, Cole Helton, and Nick Shook and you have the best weight class in 1A.
- Favorite: Mitchell Patton (SR) - Commerce
- Jake Wells (SR) - Trion
- George Bielan (JR) - Wesleyan
- Deontae Crockett (SR) - Turner County
- Darkhorse: Dylan Raymond (SR) - Bowdon
- Finals: Wells vs. Patton
- What to Watch: We have given Patton the nod over Wells because it looks like the top side of the bracket is a more difficult road to the final. Bielan vs. Raymond should be an excellent 1st round match - with the winner getting Wells. Crockett vs. Corcoran should also be good with the winner getting Patton. Keep an eye on Tyrese Lucas - he will not be an easy out in the 1st round for Wells.
- Favorite: Cole Chancey (SR) - Commerce
- Logan Blevins (JR) - Trion
- Caleb Vines (JR) - Gordon Lee
- Chapman Pendery (SR) - Wesleyan
- Darkhorse: Nathan Tucker (SR) - Irwin County
- Finals: Blevins vs. Chancey
- What to Watch: Logan ... we aren't sure if it is Bevins or Blevins - apologies for the mess up of your name. Logan fell to Chancey in last year's 1a 182 lb. State Final and the two appear destined to meet once again in 2017. Both have been dominant this season and both handled their sectional brackets with relative ease. Pendery injurt defaulted to Chancey in their sectional final and it will be interesting to see him go in the 1st round against a very tough Nathan Tucker. Keep an eye on the Vines vs. Martin match ... I'd expect many points.
- Favorite: Knox Allen (JR) - Commerce
- Brayden Rush (SO) - Eagles Landing Christian
- Christian Rodgers (JR) - Tattnall Square
- Seth Cox (SR) - Trion
- Darkhorse: Zion Blackshear (SO) - Turner County
- Finals: Rush vs. Allen
- What to Watch: Knox Allen vs. Brayden Rush seems like a given at 220. Allen, the 1A 170 lb. State Champion in 2016, has been outstanding all season ... including last weekend when was on the mat for less than 3 minutes the entire tournament. Rush, a 2016 State Placer, has also been very tough all season and also took care of business with relative ease last weekend. Christian Rodgers, Zion Blackshear, Seth Cox (a 1A State Placer at 285 in 2016), and Bailey Brock will be in the hunt, but they will need something special to knock off either Allen or Rush.
- Favorite: Cade Ridley (JR) - Commerce
- Seth Love (SR) - Treutlen
- DJ Lundy (FR) - Irwin County
- Chris Doubilet (JR) - Washington-Wilkes
- Darkhorse: Hall O'Neal (FR) - Holy Innocents
- Finals: Love vs. Ridley
- What to Watch: Commerce's Cade Ridley fell 2-1 in the 2016 finals and has looked like a man on a mission to right that wrong. He has some outstanding wins this season and has wrestled some of the best competition in Georgia regardless of classification. Seth Love of Treutlen looked very good in capturing the Section A title over a very talented DJ Lundy last weekend.