The GHSA State Traditional Wrestling Championships are Feb. 14-16 — with state sectionals to be held a week prior.
This time last year, several area team and individual mat masters — including eventual state champions — were en route to making a grand stand against the Peach State’s best.
The following standouts could be poised for an encore … or to reach even greater heights:
Count on Carman
Ola’s Jimmy Carman looks more than ready to replicate his crowning achievement from a season ago.
Carman downed Hardaway’s James Triplett in a gritty match to become the 182-pound king of Class 4-A in the 2011-12 final and pace the Mustangs to a sixth place finish. As it stands, there’s no evidence to counter the notion that Carman is the favorite heading into this year’s tourney.
Defending champs — at least those still hungry for more glory — tend to continue to develop and grow. By all appearances, one has to put Carman in that category.
Still, Carman was just one of four Henry grapplers to finish atop the field in their respective weight classes last year.
Union Grove’s Hunter Gamble (160 lbs), Henry County’s Dalvin Tomlinson (285) and Stockbridge’s Thomas Daniels (170) are the others.
Locust Grove still strong
How much more upside is there? That is the question facing the Wildcats, who finished tied for fourth — with Oconee County — in last year’s GHSA tournament.
The answer appears to be plenty.
Locust Grove, fresh off their first South Metro title, boasts a loaded roster.
The Wildcat stable features the likes of standouts Brandon Benson (145 pounds), Joseph Farrell (195), Tyler Rapes (220) and Monye Tucker (120) — plus 2011-12 state semi-finalist Chaz Brown (160).
Locust Grove certainly won’t be looking to sneak up on anyone come tourney time. On the contrary, they’re a marked team who should be peaking when GHSA action gets underway.
Stockbridge, Henry Co. in the hunt
Stockbridge and Henry County both rode star workhorses to solid overall finishes a season ago — Daniels pacing the former to 15th; Tomlinson leading the latter to 21st.
The same formula may prove true this time around, too.