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Thursday, January 12, 2016

By Craig Sager II

Historic potential matchup spotlights 4A field
The GHSA Team Dual Wrestling State Championships return to the Macon Centreplex Jan. 12-14 where seven classifications will crown state champs for the first time in state history. This shuffling and reclassification shook up the field a year after Georgia saw all six of its reigning champs successfully defend titles at the team duals. That was the first time in state history that the defending champs swept the podium.

This year, however, the storylines have shifted and so has the focus to Class 4A. The Gilmer Bobcats aim for the program's fifth straight 4A dual title, as well as the program's eighth consecutive state crown and its 10th all-time dual title. This quest for an eighth straight title, however, will be challenged by one of the only programs in the state that boasts a more impressive resume on the mat. Fifteen-time defending dual state champion Jefferson was moved up to Class 4A this year and will go head-to-head with Gilmer for the Class 4A title this weekend.

Jefferson's jump to 4A left a vacancy in Class 3A, and that will be another interesting storyline to watch now that the Dragons no longer stand in the way of programs like 2009 state champion Bremen. Gilmer's reign in Class 4A has seen its fair share of talented opponents and Class 4A's gauntlet last year was arguably much tougher than what Jefferson faced in 3A, (although the scorecard still points to Jefferson's unprecedented dominance that has captured a state title in every season since the duals were introduced in 2002).

Gilmer's title run last year included a 40-30 win over North Hall and a 45-21 win over Buford in the championship. Buford is now in Class 5A with a chance to return to the podium for the first time since 2014. Jefferson plowed through the competition last year in Class 3A, outscoring Central-Carroll (66-12), McNair (72-8), Lumpkin County (53-15) and Jackson County in the finals (61-11) by an average of 51.5 points per match.

So whether you have followed GHSA wrestling closely or not over the years, we won't be seeing a seven-time defending state champion going against a 15-time defending state champion in any sport for quite some time.


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