Georgia 2A Area 3 Season Preview
Team Race: 2A Area 3 has six teams that have a legitimate shot at capturing the Area Title and a trip to Macon for the Dual State Tournament in February in 2016. Three of those teams, Armuchee, Holy Innocents, and Model finished the 2015 Traditional State Tournament in the top 10, but failed to capture one of the two spots for the Dual State Tournament. Each has an excellent shot in 2016, but each must overcome some challenges. Armuchee returns eleven with 2015 post-season experience, but just one State Qualifier in State Runner-up Easton Mathis. The loss of two State Champions means they must look to some new faces to help carry the team. Holy Innocents return nine with 2015 post-season experience, including two State Placers, but they will need to fill the hole left by 220 lb. State Runner-up Rod Davis. Model return eight including three State Placers. Seven of the eight Blue Devil returnees are seniors and they will be looking to go out in style.
Gordon Lee was one of the teams to beat last season, finishing 4th in the Dual State Tournament and 12th in the Traditional State Tournament, but the Trojans have to reload after losing five (including all-everything Jonathan Ragsdale). Still with seven back they cannot be counted out. Each of the above teams might be chasing Lovett. The Lions return ten, including State Placers Hamp Dykes, PJ Johnson, and Thomas Reeves. If they can get production fro mthe other seven, the Lions will be tough to beat. Keep an eye on Pace Academy, they return nine with two State Placers and could very well surprise everyone in the area.
Contenders: Twelve Area 3 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Macon. State Runners-up Logan Chastain of Holy Innocents (132) and Easton Mathis of Armuchee (113) should be back on the mat Saturday evening and will be looking to push through for an individual title in 2016. Don’t be surprised if Model’s Kendall Byrd (4th at 106), Lovett’s Hamp Dykes (3rd at 182), PJ Johnson (3rd at 152), and Thomas Reeves (3rd at 113), and Pace Academy’s Jack Walsh (3rd at 220) are also on top of the podium in 2016. Dade County’s Keith Jones (5th at 285), Holy Innocents’ Liam Quigley (5th at 170), Model’s Drake Byrd (5th at 182) and Dakota Willerson (5th at 195) and Pace Academy’s Frank Houser (6th at 132) have an outside shot at taking the top step as well.
Hunting the Podium: Three 2015 State Qualifiers return in 2015-2016 and each will be looking to land a spot on the podium in 2016. Each will need to perform better if they are going to medal in 2016. Keep an eye on Darlington’s Davis Peek, Gordon Lee’s Brayden Jarvis, and Holy Innocents’ Keegan Donahoo. Peek and Jarvis both qualified last season as freshmen.
Under the Radar: Keep an eye on the following wrestlers: Armuchee’s Evan Acrey, Trace Daitz, and Luke Purdy, Coosa’s Lathe Spivey, Darlington’s Luke Johnson, Gordon Lee’s Jarrett Lassiter and Zach Murdock, Lovett’s James Harrison and Brooks Layson, Model’s Walker Byrd and Pace Academy’s Jonathan Boss.
NOTE: Fred Jones (2nd, 113, Sr.) - meaning 2nd last season at the Traditional State Tournament at 113 lbs. Is a Senior in 2015-2016.