Georgia 3A Area 1 Season Preview
Team Race: 3A Area 1 has several solid teams and a few “up and coming” teams that have the numbers if they can get the production to challenge in 2016. Appling County, which qualified for the Dual State Tournament and finished 18th in the Traditional State Tournament, might be the team to beat in 2016. The Pirates return ten that include State Placer Scotty Arthur and three State Qualifiers. Toombs County finished the highest of the Area 1 teams at the Traditional State Tournament (13th) in 2015, but were hit hard by graduation. The Bulldogs lost 220 lb. State Champion Jamar Smith, 195 lb. State Runner-up Bryson Smith, and three State Qualifiers from last year’s squad. If the Bulldogs are going to be in the mix again in 2016, they will need some new faces to step up, score, and advance. Brantley County, Dodge County, and Islands each return eleven or more, they just need to get some production from those 2015 “non-placers” if they want to supplant either Appling County or Toombs County in 2016. Dodge County, which took 14th in the Traditional State Tournament in 2015, is the likeliest candidate. The Indians return State Placer Aaron Spires and State Qualifier Christian Grauberger. Don’t sleep on Jenkins.
Contenders: Just two Area 5 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Macon. Appling County’s Scotty Arthur (3rd at 113) appears to have the best shot at standing on top of the podium in 2016. Dodge County’s Aaron Spires (4th at 285) also has an excellent shot to take home the individual title in 2016. His loss to State Runner-up Kenny Cooper of Sonoraville 4-2 in the quarterfinals was close and he will look to avenge that loss in 2016.
Hunting the Podium: Nine 2015 State Qualifiers return in 2015-2016 and each will be looking to land a spot on the podium in 2016. Each has a great shot of earning a medal, having been to Macon in 2015, but given their 2015 performance, it appears Appling County’s Mokiel Eason and Justin Young, Islands’ Jeremy Wilson, and Dodge County’s Christian Grauberger are the most likely to be on the podium. Keep an eye on Toombs County’s Justin Hall, Savannah’s Chance Hobson, Appling County’s Caleb Johnson, Islands’ Will Fogler, and Pierce County’s Seth Bryant. Each struggled at the 2015 State Tournament, but expect that to change in 2016.
Under the Radar: Keep an eye on the following wrestlers: Appling County’s Ethan Herndon, Brantley County’s Joshua Johnson, Dodge County’s Justin Warnock, Islands’ Dylan Poston, Jenkins’ Jordin Olinger and Kendra Badger, Savannah Johnson’s Charles Knighton, Pierce County’s Caleb Taylor, and Toombs County’s Jonathan Quintero.
NOTE: Fred Jones (2nd, 113, Sr.) - meaning 2nd last season at the Traditional State Tournament at 113 lbs. Is a Senior in 2015-2016.