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PREP WRESTLING: Teams carry confidence into state

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It was only a few days ago when Pepperell, Armuchee and Trion battled through their respective area duals and qualified for state.

Now those teams are off to Macon to prove themselves against the best.

The GHSA Team Dual State Championships are this weekend at the Macon Centreplex, and the three area wrestling teams all begin competition today. While they know the best teams in the state await, they also know if they made it this far they can compete against anyone.

“I don’t want to have an inflated confidence, but I want them to believe that they can win,” Pepperell coach Joe Knight said. “I think everybody is weary, not to the point of being afraid, but we know it’s going to be a tough road in any way.”

The Dragons, who won the Area 3-AA Duals in Chattooga on Tuesday, did not make the state duals while competing in Class 3A last season. But Knight has maintained that his team has faced plenty of strong teams, especially in area duals.

Its first opponent today is Fitzgerald at 5:30 p.m., but no matter the opponent Knight is confident that his three seniors — Jaxon Croy, Hinton Bolinger and Jake Ross — will compete well. He does hope his team can improve even more this weekend coming off of its area duals win.

“We know that we can still have a little bit of a better showing here and there,” Knight said. “We’ve got to make our kids who are lesser wrestlers get to their potential.”

While Armuchee came up short of an area title, the Indians will represent Area 3-AA as the No. 2 team and begin state with a match against Toombs County today at 5:30 p.m.

It’s the second consecutive year they’ve made it to Macon, and like Trion and Pepperell, the Indians only had two days in between the area and state duals rather than the customary week.

Armuchee coach Joey Harris said it shouldn’t affect the team, and he understands it’s just a product of last week’s weather.

“I think that can get to you mentally, but a lot of teams in the state are in the same boat,” Harris said Thursday. “I mean, larger classifications played today and had even less days of practice.”

Trion is coming off winning the Area 3-A Duals at home on, and takes on Turner County in the first round of the Class A tournament today at 3 p.m. Bulldogs’ coach Eric Brock said he doesn’t know much about them, but understands that anyone who Trion plays will be tough.

Brock said he wants his team to take everything one match at a time, and like the other coaches headed to Macon this weekend, it’s a time to be cautiously confident.

“The main focus is to take things one step, one round at a time and not look ahead in this,” Brock said. “So we want to make sure every one of our kids is in the right mind for that first match, make sure they’re ready to go, and move from there.”