Georgia 4A Area 4 Season Preview
Team Race: A few numbers to digest that might help illuminate how balanced 4A Area 4 is overall. One team finished the Traditional State Tournament in the top 10, three teams finished very close together at 31st, 33rd, and 34th, and all teams except one return at least one State Qualifier. Locust Grove, the top 10 team from 2015, returns eleven including State Placers Augie Rodrigues and Austin Mobley. They should be considered the favorites in Area 4. The race for the #2 spot is much less clear. Eastside, the other Dual State Qualifier from 2015 and 34th at the Traditional State Tournament, return two State Qualifiers and eight others with experience. Hampton returns ten as well, including 195 lb. State Placer Monex Charles and Eagles Landing return seven including State Qualifier Anthony Lodato, but lose the bulk of their firepower from 2015. The team to keep an eye on is Walnut Grove. The Warriors finished 43rd at the 2015 Traditional State Tournament, but return all three State Qualifiers and look to have the best shot at making the big jump in 2016.
Contenders: Area 4 returns three that finished the 2014-2015 season on the podium in Macon. None will enter the 2015-2016 as the favorite, but all three have a legitimate shot at claiming the top step in 2016. Locust Grove’s Austin Mobley (106) and Hampton’s Monex Charles (195) both advanced to the semifinals a season ago before falling to 5th. Augie Rodrigues of Locust Grove took 4th at 113, falling to West Laurens’ Blake Beasley twice during the tournament. Each will need to win some close matches if they are going to bring home the title in 2016.
Hunting the Podium: Ten 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 Eastside’s Matt Malcom and Noah Savage and Walnut Grove’s Dakota Cox are the most likely to be on the podium. Keep an eye on Anthony Thomas of Eastside, Anthony Lodato of Eagles Landing, Javon Ealey of Jonesboro, CJ Henry of Locust Grove, Hernando Chifundo of Mt Zion Jonesboro, Troy Robinson of Riverdale, and Levi Leach and William Ray of Walnut Grove. Each struggled at the 2015 State Tournament, but expect that to change in 2016.
Under the Radar: Keep an eye on the following wrestlers: Tra'Sean Mitchell of Eastside, William Byars and Garrett Harris of Walnut Grove, Lawson Little, Qyentavious Neal, and Jaylen Patterson of Mt Zion Jonesboro, Heath Dickerson, Jacob O’Neal, Justin Smith and Noah Fayard of Locust Grove, and Domminick Tubbs of Jonesboro.
NOTE: Fred Jones (2nd, 113, Sr.) - meaning 2nd last season at the Traditional State Tournament at 113 lbs. Is a Senior in 2015-2016.