Georgia 6A Area 7 Season Preview
Team Race: Another fantastic area with some excellent teams and individuals. The Area features two Top 5 teams and five Top 30 teams from last year’s Traditional State Tournament. Despite losing three State Placers, Collins Hill might be the team to beat in 2015-2016. The Eagles return 126 lb. State Runner-up Codi Russell and four State Qualifiers. Expect the Eagles to be pushed by both Mountain View and North Gwinnett. Mountain View returns State Placers Austin Brown and Justin George and 113 lb. State Qualifier Yadiel Gonzalez. North Gwinnett returns 113 lb. State Champion Todd Small and three State Qualifiers. The battle for the top spot could come down to some of the unfamiliar wrestlers stepping up in an important match. Keep an eye on Mill Creek and Peachtree Ridge. Neither is likely to push the top 3, but if someone falters these teams are the likely to step in and fill the void.
Contenders: Area 7 features five wrestlers with a legitimate shot at claiming the top step on the final weekend of the season. Returning State Champion Todd Small of North Gwinnett is back and ready to defend his title. Despite the depth of talent at 113, 120, and 126 he has to be considered the favorite after running the gauntlet at 113 a season ago to claim his first state title. 126 lb. Runner-up Codi Russell of Collins Hill is back and ready to take the top step in 2016. Russell dominated the State Tournament bracket until falling just short to Valdosta’s Reggie Dennis 5-4 in the finals. It would be a shock if he weren’t wrestling Saturday night with the title on the line. Austin Brown and Justin George of Mountain View each finished 3rd in 2015. Brown lost to eventual Champ Justan Rivera in the semifinals and George fell in the quarterfinals, both should be wrestling for the title Saturday evening. Peachtree Ridge’s Josh Parr took 6th at 145 in 2015 and has an outside shot at the top step as well.
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. Collins Hill’s Josh Harger and Tariq Malik, Meadowcreek’s Xavier Hicks, and North Gwinnett’s Keison Forte and Alex Mollette each won matches at the 2015 Traditional State Tournament and represent Area 7’s best shot at having another wrestler on the podium in 2016. Tavion Askew and Nathaniel Wellington of Collins Hill, Alan Andrejewski, Justin Blough, and Chandler Miele of Mill Creek, Yadiel Gonzalez of Mountain View and Justin Lewis of North Gwinnett could also find the podium. Each finished the 2015 State Tournament 0-2 and will need to wrestle better if they are going to medal in 2016.
Under the Radar: Keep an eye on the following wrestlers: Dominick Perrone of Collins Hill, Aaron Black of Duluth, Hector Medoza Sanchez of Meadowcreek, Ben Gilbreath of Mill Creek, Sam Ezell and Carlos Gonzalez of Mountain View, William Johnson of Norcross, Oliver Thigpen of North Gwinnett, and Connor Bradley and JJ Stewart of Peachtree Ridge.
NOTE: Fred Jones (2nd, 113, Sr.) - meaning 2nd last season at the Traditional State Tournament at 113 lbs. Is a Senior in 2015-2016.