Area 3-AA traditional tournament

Armuchee's Luke Purdy looks up as he keeps hold of Heard County's Kevin Hendrix during their 126-pound championship match at the Area 3-AA traditional tournament Saturday Jan. 28, 2017, at Armuchee High School. (Jeremy Stewart/RN-T.com)

When a wrestler reaches this point in the season, they have proven they have skills and talent. But they aren’t alone.

The GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Tournament begins today in Macon with nearly 40 area wrestlers from nine different schools ready to compete for a title over the next three days.

All of them understand the stakes and the talent they will face in their final meet of the season.

“It’s four guys from our side of the state against four guys from their side, and every kid has a chance,” Darlington coach Kelly McDurmon said about each weight class.

“That’s what so great about wrestling — everyone has a shot,” McDurmon said, “and I have a lot of trust in my four guys.”

Darlington will be one of the teams to watch in Macon, especially after Dalton Blankenship and Colton Woods won individual state titles last season as freshmen in Class AA.

Blankenship returns to state at 113 pounds, while Woods comes in at 126. They will be joined in the Class A tournament this weekend by two other Darlington wrestlers with state experience — Davis Peek (132) and Rhett McDurmon (145).

Trion will be thinking of something bigger than individual titles when it enters eight wrestlers into the Class A competition this weekend.

“With the eight wrestlers we have, we feel like we can finish among the best teams,” Trion coach Eric Brock said. “All our guys have earned their spot in state. We are just going to have to wrestle like we always do, and the rest will take care of itself.”

Meanwhile, Class AA will feature several local wrestlers from Floyd County.

Pepperell has four, including three who finished first in its sectional last weekend. One of those is Hinton Bollin­ger, who reached the state semifinals last season before finishing third at 285.

Armuchee has six wrestlers in the meet, including Jacob Henderson, who won at 182 pounds at area and sectionals. The junior, who finished last season in second place in the same weight class, has not lost a bout all year.

Model brings in three wrestlers, including Walker Byrd, who is coming off a third place finish at state last season. Chattooga has five wrestlers, including freshman Griffin Jarrett who finished first at both area and sectionals at 106 pounds.

Rome sends three wrestlers to state in Class 5A, all of them sophomores. And while coach Bryan Aspera knows the meet will be the best of the best, he hopes his guys take it one match at a time.

“It is just the last tournament of the season for us,” Aspera said. “Sure, there are some more mats than we will be used to, but we will approach it all like any other meet.”

LOCAL STATE WRESTLING QUALIFIERS

(weight class in parentheses)

ARMUCHEE (Class AA)

Riley Purdy (106)

Wesley Conley (113)

Luke Purdy (126)

Brayden Butler (132)

Trace Daitz (152)

Jacob Henderson (182)

CEDARTOWN (Class 4A)

Cameron Zell (113)

CHATTOOGA (Class AA)

Griffin Jarrett (106)

Austin Kiser (145)

Efrain Hernandez (170)

Austin Jones (195)

Alex Mears (220)

DARLINGTON (Class A)

Dalton Blankenship (113)

Colton Woods (126)

Davis Peek (132)

Rhett McDurmon (145)

MODEL (Class AA)

Dillon Langston (106)

Walker Byrd (113)

AJ Woods (170)

PEPPERELL (Class AA)

Ethan Sharpe (126)

Jaxon Croy (145)

Jake Ross (170)

Hinton Bollinger (285)

ROCKMART (Class AA)

Truett Bowman (120)

AJ Streetman (132)

Zoryan Hendricks (138)

ROME (Class 5A)

Ivan Arguello (106)

Elvis Perez (138)

Tyler Ingram (145)

TRION (Class A)

Francisco Alonzo (106)

Jamey Floyd (120)

Lincoln Maddux (126)

Cole Luallen (138)

Branson Bowman (152)

Jake Wells (182)

Logan Blevins (195)

Seth Cox (220)