Georgia 3A Area 5 Season Preview
Team Race: 3A Area 5 has a solid group of teams that all, minus Haralson County (which begins its 1st season in 2015-2016), should be in the hunt in 2015-2016. Each team has nine or more returnees with 2015 post-season experience back in 2015-2016 and that should make for an exciting team race. Rockmart, 3rd, and Pepperell, 11th at last year’s State Tournament, have to be considered the favorites from the Area to challenge the top teams in 3A statewide. Callaway, Cedartown, and Carrollton Central have the numbers, they just need to get some production from those “non-placers” on the squad if they want to break into the top 15 in 2016.
Contenders: Seven Area 5 wrestlers, who return in 2015-2016, finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Macon. That group is led by 120 lb. State Runner-up Devin Darden of Rockmart and 126 lb. State Runner-up Dawson Hunt of Central. Expect both of them to be back in the finals on Saturday night. Don’t be surprised if Rockmart’s Draven Smith (3rd at 220), Truett Bowman (4th at 106), and Pepperell’s Jake Ross (4th at 152) are also on top of the podium in 2016. Callaway’s Justin Kiss (5th at 106) and Pepperell’s Hinton Bolinger (6th at 285) have an outside shot at taking the top step.
Hunting the Podium: Twelve 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 Cedartown’s Brandon Brame and Pepperell’s Zach Diggs are the most likely to be on the podium. Keep an eye on Rockmart’s Jonathan Adams and Braden Baert, as well as Pepperell’s Zach Brumbelow, Jaxon Croy, Jacob Smith, and Brice Wade. Each won a match in 2015 and will look to improve on that in 2016.
Under the Radar: It is difficult to think of these five as being “under the radar” because each qualified for the State Tournament a season ago, but each is either a junior or sophomore and each appears to have a huge upside. Will 2015-2016 be the season each surprises? If you don’t know the names at the beginning of the season, you will likely know their names by the end. Callaway’s Justin Kiss (So.); Cedartown’s Cruz Rodriguez (So.); Central’s Dakota Ison (So.); Pepperell’s Jaxon Croy; and Rockmart’s AJ Streetman (Jr.)
NOTE: Fred Jones (2nd, 113, Sr.) - meaning 2nd last season at the Traditional State Tournament at 113 lbs. Is a Senior in 2015-2016.