By Fletcher Proctor
When wrestlers from across the state descend upon Macon for the 2013 GHSA Traditional State championships, several familiar faces will be considered the favorites for the state team titles, but countless teams will also have a shot at breaking through to etch a new name in GHSA lore.
In Class AAA Banks County, winners of the 2013 AAA Duals championship last month, enters with eight wrestlers that will compete for individual weight class championships. Banks County finished in 22nd place one year ago in AA with Patton finishing fifth in the 120-pound class. This year Patton will be joined by Chris McCrackin (106), Francisco Hurtado (132), Tony Fultz (138), Eli Smallwood (170), Hayden Dilbeck (182) and Matt Dilbeck (195).
Woodward Academy was runner up in the 2013 AAA Duals and finished sixth in the traditional championships last year. Head coach Pete Fritts said the team is treating this weekend as “business as usual.”
“We prepare the same way for all our matches and put the same emphasis on all matches, state, series or otherwise,” said Fritts. “No added pressure. There is probably less pressure since we are not the favorite.”
Woodward Academy will be led by senior Chad Pyke, who will attempt to defend his state title from one year ago.
“I feel good about our lineup and who we are bringing to Macon,” said Fritts. “Every match will be a tough one and we are aware of that. At the end of the day, all we can do is wrestle our best and leave nothing on the mat. (Last year) we let one slip away from us and we are refocused to wrestle our best until the final whistle.”
Oconee County finished third in the team dual championships and fifth last year in the AAA Traditional Championships. The Warriors could win the program’s first traditional title with four sectional champions. North Hall is another team that could break through if senior Tyler Kratzer (145) can continue his recent domination. Another wrestler to watch is Buford’s Chip Ness (182), a sectional champion who won the Class AA 170 title last year.