The Armuchee and Model wrestling teams are in the midst of just that after graduating key wrestlers from last season’s teams.
The Indians, who competed in their first home competition Thursday in a tri-match against Model and LaFayette, are trying to find leadership after graduating top wrestlers Jacob Henderson and JC Burkett. Henderson was a two-time Class AA state champion, and Burkett was last year’s Area 3-AA 220-pound champion.
“They do what we ask. They work hard,” Armuchee head coach Joey Harris said. “We need some emerging leaders. For a long time he (Henderson) scored a lot of points for us — him and those other seniors. They were in the lineup for four years, so that changes the dynamics of the team.”
The Indians return All-Area second-teamers Ethan Nixon (182) and Cameron Espy (145).
Harris said there are some kinks in the teams’ lineup, but he’s optimistic the wrestlers will get on track as the season progress.
“I don’t know if the lightbulb has gone off as to how we’re going to line up, and I don’t tell our kids that.” Harris said. “I don’t think they’ve figured out their lineup. I think we could be solid, but we’re all clustered up in different weights. I’m impatient, and I’m ready to be there, but we’re bound by our weight plans. We’re just going to keep progressing. I think we’ll come together.”
Model head coach Ben Woodall has seen his young team start to gel, beginning the season with a 6-6 record. The Blue Devils, made up of mainly freshman and sophomores, lost last year’s state runner-up Walker Byrd to graduation, but Woodall is optimistic about the competitors he’s seen trying to break into the lineup.
“We’re very young, and we’ve lost to some bigger schools,” Woodall said. “But we’ve wrestled hard. We’re starting to get into shape, we just have to get into the proper lineups, and we’ll be ready to roll. We’re definitely progressing. We have a long way to go, but I think we’re on track.”
Model will compete again Saturday when the team travels to Mountain View for the Compound Clothing Duals.