128 wrestlers that qualified for the 2019 Georgia 7A state tournament are eligible to return to make another run at the title (57.1%). That includes 7 that won state titles in 2019.

  • 106 Connor Powell (Hillgrove)

  • 113 Nathan Orum (Camden County)

  • 120 David Panone (Lassiter)

  • 132 Ben Williams (Milton)

  • 138 RJ Weston (Lassiter)

  • 160 Lucas DeSilva (Collins Hill)

  • 170 Garrett Spikes (Mountain View)

We could take a guess regarding the weight class these wrestlers, and others, will wrestle this season … but it is a little early for that speculation. Let’s take a look at the other 7 weight classes and the top returner at those weights:

  • 126 Clint Gilbert (Collins Hill) - 2nd

  • 145 Rex McDaniel (North Gwinnett) - 2nd

  • 152 Camron Starks (Brookwood) - 6th

  • 182 Cody Herrin (Camden County) - 2nd

  • 195 Kaleb Walley (Rockdale County) - 6th

  • 220 Jonathan Chesser (Walton) - 2nd

  • 285 Edward Pollard (Rockdale County) - 2nd

2019 State Placers and Qualifiers by Weight

This is the breakdown of those 2019 placers by weight class that are eligible to return.

Weight (# of Placers; # of Qualifiers) - Yes the Placers are counted twice (one as placers and once as qualifiers)

  • 106 (4; 12)

  • 113 (4; 14)

  • 120 (3; 12)

  • 126 (3; 10)

  • 132 (6; 10)

  • 138 (4; 9)

  • 145 (3; 9)

  • 152 (1; 8)

  • 160 (2; 7)

  • 170 (4; 10)

  • 182 (2; 7)

  • 195 (1; 2)

  • 220 (2; 7)

  • 285 (3; 11)

In looking a the #’s above … it is easy to see that 195 was decimated by graduation. Only Kaleb Walley of Rockdale County (who finished 6th) and Danny Lopez of Marietta (7th in Section A) return. Whereas 113 returns all but 2 wrestlers including State Champ Nathan Orum of Camden County), and 3 placers in Powell Gilbert (Collins Hill), Michael Roe-Deters (Woodstock), and Ethan Sellers (Colquitt County). Most weight classes have 3 or 4 placers that return and somewhere between 7 and 10 state qualifiers.

2019 State Placers and Qualifiers by School

Let’s look at this a couple of different ways …

First - Total # of 2019 Qualifiers eligible to return

  • Collins Hill leads the way with 7

  • 5 teams have 6

    • Archer

    • Forsyth Central

    • McEachern

    • Newnan

    • North Paulding

  • 5 teams have 5

    • Cherokee

    • Colquitt County

    • Lambert

    • North Forsyth

    • West Forsyth

  • 4 teams have 4

    • Brookwood

    • Camden County

    • Milton

    • Walton

  • The remaining 20 teams have anywhere between 1 and 3 … most noteworthy of that group is Hillgrove which has 2 returning qualifiers (a champ and a runner-up), Lassiter which has 3 returning qualifiers (2 champs and a 6th place finisher), Rockdale County which has 3 qualifiers (1 runner-up and 1 6th place finisher), Roswell which has 3 qualifiers (a 3rd and a 5th place finisher), and Woodstock which has 2 returning qualifiers (both finished 4th in 2019).

Second - # of 2019 Placers eligible to return

  • Collins Hill again leads the way with 5

  • 4 teams have 3 placers

    • Brookwood

    • Camden County

    • Lassiter

    • West Forsyth

  • 6 teams have 2 placers

    • Colquitt County

    • Hillgrove

    • Rockdale County

    • Roswell

    • Walton

    • Woodstock

What does it all mean?

Camden is the reigning champs and have held the 7A title for years … they enter the Georgia Grappler rankings at #1. With the graduation of so many Camden County hammers … this might be the season someone else steps in. Only time will tell. Most people (in a poll we did some weeks ago) believe Camden will reign supreme again in 2020 … and until there is evidence to the contrary that is probably the safe bet.

Collins Hill, #2 in the Grappler rankings, return 7 qualifiers (5 that placed) including 160 lb. Champ Lucas DeSilva. Whether Collins Hill can knock off Camden or not will probably come down to how well Powell Gilbert, Joey Felix, Clint Gilbert, and the rest of the Eagles wrestle. Brookwood, Mountain View, and Colquitt County come in 3rd-5th in the initial Grappler rankings. It will be interesting to see whether teams like Hillgrove, Lassiter, West Forsyth, Rockdale County, Roswell, and others can break into that top 5.


56 of the 98 2019 Georgia State Champions are eligible to return for a run at another title in 2020. We know the # will be at most 54 because Buford 106 lb. State Champ Nick Corday and Valdosta 195 lb. State champ Noah Pettigrew are now wrestling elsewhere out of state.

Before we take a look at the returning Champs by classification … here are some interesting #’s -

  • All 7 106 lb. State Champs are eligible to return (Corday already mentioned will not) - that is the most of any weight class.

  • Just 2 of the 7 145 lb. State Champs (Jaxon Smith of Woodland and McCoy Pace of Woodward Academy) are back in 2020 - the fewest of any weight class

  • There are 12 freshmen, 13 sophomores, and 31 juniors that are eligible to return (again if you return Corday and Pettigrew that # shrinks to 10 for freshmen).

  • 152, 170 and 285 had no State Champions that were freshmen or sophomores. With Pettigrew gone to Blair Academy you can add 220 to that as well.

  • Woodward Academy (4A) returns the most Champs with 4. Chattooga (2A) and West Laurens (4A) each return 3. Buford, Evans, Lassiter, Lumpkin County, North Hall, South Paulding, and Woodland each have 2.

  • Interestingly - there are a number of schools that are traditional powers that have no champs returning. If they are going to keep their title hopes alive they will need someone to step up.

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Returning Girls State Champs

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Drawing - when it matters and when it doesn't

This first by the #’s addresses the misguided notion that draws don’t matter.

This is a #’s driven blog, and I will get to the #’s associated with the Journeymen Fall Classic coming up this weekend, but I think that it’s important to start off with an idea that we tell ourselves, but isn’t necessarily true. That idea is “I’m the tough draw” or “draws don’t matter.” I have used them interchangeably because for the past several years I have heard them used on Twitter and on gym floors interchangeably.

First - they are two different ideas. The first, “I’m the tough draw” or “I’m the bad draw,” is a great mindset to have. It is the belief that you are the best in the tournament and that, no matter what, you will prevail. You may have to beat the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best man or woman to be on the top step, but at the end of the day … you will be there. We should never rob ourselves of this idea. It’s important that we believe we are the best and can beat any other person in the bracket. But …

Second - “draws don’t matter” is categorically false. In statistics there’s a simple idea of “regression to the mean.” Basically, it means that probability will win out in the end and that there might be anomalies where the best person doesn’t win, but ultimately if you have enough data points the best person in the weight class will win “more times than not.”

Let’s take the latest results from Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan (the country) finished 2nd in Men’s Freestyle at the 2019 World Championships (after not finishing among the top 10 in previous years). One could (and many have) argued that they had very favorable draws. If you take the mindset that “I’m the tough draw,” that would matter little and one could argue that each of their wrestlers performed better than expected. The other argument is that they received “favorable” draws and, as a result, were given opportunities that they would not otherwise have had.

Let’s now extend this idea and make it “real” in looking at 74kg weight class. If “I’m the tough draw” or “draws don’t matter,” then we could put Sidakov (who finished 1st), Chamizo (2nd), Burroughs (3rd), and Khadjiev (3rd) into the same quarter of the bracket. It might not interfere with who was 1st, but it most certainly would impact who finished 2nd, 3rd, etc. Given the current repechage system it would have eliminated two of the those four before they could “medal.” As a result, draws do matter and may impact the overall team score or team race. They might also eliminate the “better” wrestlers earlier, if the brackets are not drawn appropriately.

So what in the world does this have to do with the Journeyman Fall Classic coming up this weekend?

2 things …

  1. We are about to list the accolades of the different wrestlers. It is important to note that while not every accolade or ranking is important in drawing the bracket, it can matter as illustrated above. In a single instance - it doesn’t mean that a “State Placer from NY” won’t knock off a “World Team Member.” It just means that those accolades help to separate some of the talent so you get the best wrestlers in the finals.

  2. The Journeymen Fall Classic does an excellent job of putting the “top” wrestlers into pools or a round robin format that helps to decide the best in the weight. It is done very differently than your average tournament, a state tournament or even the World Championships. If you haven’t previously paid attention to it, please follow it this weekend. You might develop a better appreciation for the different types of methods (tournaments) used.

And now onto the #’s …

There are 330 wrestlers registered for the Journeymen Fall Classic

  • 2 are Cadet World Team Members

  • 4 are UWW Cadet All Americans

  • 3 are UWW Cadet Placers

  • 3 are Super 32 Placers

  • 5 are Fargo Junior Freestyle All Americans

  • 2 are Fargo Cadet Freestyle National Champions

  • 5 are Fargo Cadet Freestyle All Americans

  • 1 is a FloNationals Champion

  • 5 are FloNationals Placers

  • 2 are Junior NHSCA National Champions

  • 14 are Junior NHSCA All Americans

  • 2 are Sophomore NHSCA National Champions

  • 18 are Sophomore NHSCA All Americans

  • 3 are Ironman Placers

And the list could go on. Are there “too many” opportunities for someone to be an “All American” or a “National Champion”? Maybe… but that’s a topic for another post.

The Journeymen Fall Classic is one of the best “pre-season” tournaments of the year. As a fan you should just kick back and watch some of the best of the next generation compete.