Troup, LaGrange ready for area duals
By Kevin Eckleberry
The road to state runs through Cedartown.
The Area 5-AAAA wrestling duals are set for Saturday at Cedartown High, and the top two finishers will advance to the state duals.
There will be seven teams participating, including LaGrange and Troup, and the tournament is scheduled to get under way at 9 a.m.
Central-Carroll is the top seed, so it will receive a first-round bye.
Troup, the number two seed, will face seventh-seeded Sandy Creek in the first round.
LaGrange is seeded fourth, and it will wrestle fifth-seeded Chapel Hill in the opening round.
In the other first-round match, it’ll be third-seeded Cartersville meeting sixth-seeded Cedartown.
If LaGrange wins its
opener, it would face Central-Carroll in the second round, while Troup would match up with either Cartersville or Cedartown.
Troup is the defending area champion, and it will bring a formidable squad to Cedartown.
In its most recent dual-format tournament, Troup won all nine of its matches in the Dariel Daniel Grind.
In the final match, Troup delivered its most dominant performance of the season in a 48-30 victory over Carrollton.
It’s the sort of complete effort Troup head coach Craig Garner has been looking for all season.
“I’ve only felt like we’ve done that one time this year, and that was during the Carrollton match,” Garner said. “That’s what you want to see from here on out, that intensity and that focus. You want to be putting your best together at this time of year.”
Last weekend, the Tigers participated in a traditional-format tournament at Alexander, and they had a strong showing.
Eight of the 10 Troup wrestlers who competed placed, including Chase Seals, who won his weight class.
Michael Irvin reached the championship round in his weight class, and he placed second after an injury default.
Darious Hanson, Brantly Robinson, Scott Hicks, Quenton Kersey and Colby Harry were third, and Trevor Upchurch finished fifth.
Some wrestlers who have been out of action with injuries or illness will be back on Saturday.
“We’re on the road to (being fully healthy),” Garner said. “Everybody’s going to wrestle, but we’re still not quite 100 percent. Last week, we’re missing four, three with injuries, one with sickness. This weekend, we’ll be wrestling 13 guys (with one forfeit).”
For every wrestling team, this is the most important, and busiest, time of the year.
Coming shortly after the state duals are the traditional area tournaments, and then comes the state sectionals and the season-ending traditional state finals.
“Everything up until this point is glorified practice,” Garner said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 36-0, or 0-36. If you’re wrestling your best now, good things will happen.”
While Troup is a veteran led by six talented seniors, LaGrange will bring an inexperienced squad to Cedartown.
Still, LaGrange head coach Scooter Weathers believes his team has a chance to reach the state duals.
To make that a reality, LaGrange will have to beat Chapel Hill and Central-Carroll.
“For a team as young as we are, that would be a real big accomplishment (to make state),” Weathers said. “Because we’re young, I’ve never had to be this patient. But this bunch can be really, really good.”
Weathers believes his team would have a realistic of beating Central.
“We match up with them better,” Weathers said. “It’ll still be tough, but we’re in a spot where we’ve got a chance. And that’s all you can ask for is a chance. We’ll have a chance to hopefully beat them, and whatever happens after that happens.”
Last week, LaGrange finished third in the Gary Silva Invitational, and eight members of the team placed fourth or higher.
That group included junior Dexter Fitzpatrick who took the top spot in his weight class.
John Arthur and Demetrius Dean finished second, Lane Oliver and Matt Callaway were third, and Mason McPeters, Walter Oliver and Colin Cavender placed fourth.
It was a strong showing for a team that Weathers feels has made tremendous strides.
“They’ve gotten a lot better. They have,” Weathers said. “And we talked about what could happen. They know what’s at stake.”