By Brian Paglia
Kevin Jones hoped this weekend would be his Lovejoy wrestling team's coming out party at the State Duals meet in Macon.
Turns out the party will have to wait.
Persistent icy conditions forced the Georgia High School Association to postpone the State Duals on Wednesday until Feb. 25, a week after the State Traditional meet in Gwinnett. Jones said he thought the unorthodox re-scheduling was done to keep the State Duals at the Macon Centreplex, rather than spread the tournament across the metro area at several high schools.
Five teams from the Southern Crescent qualified for the State Duals: Henry County and Locust Grove in Class AAA, and Lovejoy, Mundy's Mill and Union Grove in Class AAAA. They had this week to prepare for the wrestling season's first shot at a state title, but now that changes.
Instead, the month of February sets us to be a whirlwind of championship wrestling, starting with the area traditional championship the first weekend; then the state sectionals; then the State Traditional championship; and then the State Duals, all in successive weekends.
The season's competitive ebb and flow is completely restructured now, Jones said, requiring teams to adjust their training approach.
"It readjusts where you peak now," Jones said. "Also understand that moving the state duals to the end of February, you run the risk of the week prior, when you have the individual championships, of having some injuries. In that sense it does change everything about how you train, because it could be anti-climactic. You have the state traditional championships and you've got a state champion and everybody's up on stage, but then you've got the team championships a week later. ... How hungry is a kid to wrestle after he's already an individual state champion?
"So, yea, this is something unprecedented. In my recollection I really wish that we had found a way to get (the State Duals) in next week ... because it makes the end of the season tougher now."
But, in the case of Lovejoy, it allows the Wildcats to rest injuries and give more mat time to wrestlers still transitioning from football season. Christian Hill and Shavor Guyton were both expected to contribute this weekend at the State Duals, but the football players had minimal mat time compared to other teammates. David Washington (285), a standout defensive lineman committed to Kentucky, plans on taking a few recruiting visits, Jones said.
The GHSA allowed teams