Georgia 4A Area 3 Season Preview
Team Race: 4A Area 3 is one of the smaller areas in the entire state, regardless of classification. But don’t let the small number be deceiving; Area 3 has two very good teams and three others that will look to break into the top 25 at the Traditional State Tournament in February. West Laurens, 3rd at the Traditional Tournament and one match from placing at the Dual State Tournament, is certainly the team to beat. The Raiders lose 195 lb. State Runner-up Kameron Jackson, but return a bevy of State Placers and State Qualifiers. They are not only the team to beat in Area 3, but have to be considered one of the favorites for the 4A title. Howard returns ten including 195 lb. State Placer JaQwun Stinson. They have a shot to be a top 10-team by the end of the season, but will need some new faces to step up and contribute. Keep an eye on Windsor Forest. If Howard were to slip, the Knights might be the team to benefit.
Contenders: With just five teams in Area 3, it might be expected that the number of contenders would be quite low. In fact the opposite is true. Area 3 returns six that finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Macon. Not surprising, all but one of the contenders comes from West Laurens. 160 lb. State Champion Jarrett Henry and 126 lb. State Runner-up Ben Deal return as favorites. Both should be back in the finals Saturday night and both expect to be on the top step in 2016. Howard’s JaQwun Stinson (3rd at 195) and Blake Beasley (3rd at 113) of West Laurens narrowly missed a spot in the finals in 2015. Beasley fell 6-4 in the semifinals to Gilmer’s Trevor Preece and Stinson fell in the quarters to eventual runner-up Kameron Jackson. Keep an eye on Ty Kight (6th at 170) and Cameron Butler (5th at 152) of West Laurens. Both have an outside shot at the top step in 2016.
Hunting the Podium: Six 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 Burke County’s Willis Torbert, New Hampstead’s Kareem Terry, and West Laurens’ Will Johnson are the most likely to be on the podium. Keep an eye on Gabriel Howard of Howard, Jathaniel Allen of West Laurens and Jametre’ Williams of Windsor Forest. Each struggled at the 2015 State Tournament, but expect that to change in 2016.
Under the Radar: Keep an eye on the following wrestlers: Stevonta Jones of Burke County, Nathan Campbell, Jordan Glover, and Dalson Harkins of Howard, Joseph Horn, Lederrius Williams, Chandler Mullis, and Ruinte Demmons of West Laurens, and DeShawn Baker and Raymond Foster of Windsor Forest.
NOTE: Fred Jones (2nd, 113, Sr.) - meaning 2nd last season at the Traditional State Tournament at 113 lbs. Is a Senior in 2015-2016.