But with the younger pups growing up through the winter, second-year Lion coach Marcus Marenda is looking forward to seeing how they handle themselves this weekend at the Area 2-AAA Traditional Tournament, which will be hosted by Central High School with a 5 p.m. start today. The action continues on Saturday at 9 a.m.
“I think we’re going to give our guys that did a lot of load-carrying through the season a chance to shine. In the dual format, we needed to have the whole team to be able to accomplish things and our record at the end of the dual meet season was 8-15. We wrestled a pretty tough schedule. Six of those losses were on the very first day when we sent split-squads out. But with a good squad assembled when we had our team together, we went 8-10 and wrestled a lot of top-10 teams. I’m very proud of what the kids accomplished there,” Marenda said.
The Lions had seven wrestlers get seeded for the area competition, which features 13 teams that includes dual state qualifiers Sonoraville and Rockmart.
Leading the way for Central is senior Jarrett Thomas, who was seeded second at 152 pounds, though it was somewhat of a toss-up between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.
“The guy that got the one seed was a returning state-placer and Jarrett was a returning state qualifier, so that was the only thing we could really establish in common,” Marenda said. “Although Jarrett didn’t get the one seed, I feel very good about him being able to win this tournament. We’ll see what the matchup looks like as we go along, but I feel very good about him being able to secure a spot in the finals. We’ll see how that matchup goes, but I have all the confidence in him if he goes out there ready as he has been that we’ll see him as an [area] champion and we’ll see him advance on to sectionals with a good seed there.”
The Lions’ other senior, Avery Ward, received a No. 3 seed at 120 pounds, and Marenda said the lightweight has been coming on strong down the stretch of his final campaign.
“Avery, the last three weeks has found a focus and purpose of what he’s about. I think he realizes that his senior season is about to end and it’s time to succeed now. I think his work ethic in the room has shown that and the intensity that he’s brought to his matches has also shown that,” Marenda said.
After the two seniors, all the other seeds went out to underclassmen, with sophomores Levi Huckeba getting tabbed fourth at 160 and Chaz Velez as a No. 5 at 195, while freshmen Trace Musick (170) and Joe Simpkins (182) were seeded fourth and Timothy Duffey (126) was seeded fifth.
Marenda is eager to see what kind of showing the younger guys make this weekend with a shot to move on to the Class AAA West Sectional at Ringgold next weekend.
“We have a very young team and if they can accomplish what we’re capable of accomplishing this weekend, it’ll be a nice capstone to what has been a very tough season for us. We wrestled a very tough schedule. Our kids came out and adjusted to the high school season and I think that they’ve started to see that what they’ve been through has put them in great position to be successful here at the end of the season,” Marenda said.