In the state’s lowest three classifications, there are only four areas as opposed to eight in the three largest classifications.
That means Callaway will be a part of a massive area tournament that gets under way today and runs through Saturday at Central-Carroll High.
Callaway will be one of 12 teams participating in the Area 2-AAA tournament that includes teams from Columbus all the way up to Chatsworth in the northwest corner of the state.
Wrestlers from those schools will be fighting to finish in the top four in their respective weight class to advance to the state sectionals.
Last season, every Callaway wrestler that competed in the area tournament made it through to state.
But that was in a much smaller area, and the competition wasn’t as strong.
“They have much different paths to state compared to the top three classifications now,” Callaway head coach Kurt Napier said. “Instead of there being eight areas, there are only four in our classification. So, we have a 12-team area, and we have to make top four out of that just to qualify for sectionals.”
Last year, there were eight areas in all five classifications, but Napier said the Georgia High School Association made the decision to consolidate things in Class A, Class AA and Class AAA this season.
Napier said some areas in the lower classifications were unable to send four wrestlers in each weight class on to state.
That’s something he saw first-hand last year when Callaway hosted a Class AA area tournament.
“When we hosted area last year, there were some weight classes where there were only two wrestlers in our whole area,” Napier said. “The other two spots were empty just because of low participation.”
Another difference between the bottom three classifications and the top three classifications comes in the state sectionals.
There will be two sectionals in each of the top three classifications, and 16 total wrestlers in each weight class advance to the state finals.
There will only be one sectional in each of the bottom three classifications, and only the top four wrestlers in each sectional move on to the finals.
“It’ll be an eight-man bracket on our level, and you have to make top four (to make the finals)” Napier said. “It’s even harder there. State’s only going to be an eight-man bracket. It is a lot different.”
The Cavaliers will have about half of the weight classes filled, and the top candidate to win an area title will likely be heavyweight Brandon Sutton, a former state placer who is peaking at the right time and has won a tournament this season.
A handful of other Callaway wrestlers, including senior Sam Moseley, will also have great chances to finish in the top four and make it to state.
Napier said it won’t be easy for any of them, though.
“Last year, everybody on the team made it through to sectionals. It’s a different ballgame now,” Napier said. “It’s going to be a big challenge for any of the guys, even for a guy like Brandon. It’s a tough area. Teams we wrestle up in northwest Georgia are all really good.”