The 2018 Traditional Wrestling Championships began on Thursday at the Macon Centreplex, with the largest four classes starting competition. The semifinals, which will be held tomorrow, were set in each classification.
Camden County, last year’s runaway team winner, placed 10 wrestlers into Friday’s semifinals, with defending champions in Tyler Crew (113 pounds), Nicholas Krug (120, 106 last year), Brandon Orum (126, 120 last year), and Raydan Wilder (145, 138 last year). Nathan Orum (106), Tyler Dahlgren (132), William Vincent (152), Michael Gibson (160), Myles Starke (182) and Javonte Graves (195) also made the final four. Other returning champions still in the hunt for titles include North Paulding’s Bradley Bitting (132, 126 last year) and Brookwood’s David Key (182, 152 last year). Last season’s second-place finisher in the 195-pound class, Brookwood’s Matthew Key, is also in the hunt in that weight class; he fell in the 2017 finals to Camden County’s Antonio Stewart, now graduated, who finished with a perfect record.
Richmond Hill narrowly leads South Paulding in semifinalists, six to five, including a defending champion in Taylor Wilson (195, 182 last year). Richmond Hill, the defending duals champion from January and the sixth-place finisher in traditionals a year ago, also sent Kaleb Anderson (106), Michael Allen (113), Will Evans (145), Jakeem Littles (152) and Kevin Murry (182) to the semis. Dalton was right behind Richmond Hill and South Paulding with four semifinalists. South Paulding was last year’s traditionals runner-up.
Buford, the defending champ in traditional and duals, got a strong start to a title defense with nine wrestlers making the semis. Defending champs Logan Ashton (113, 106 last year), Nick Stonecheck (132, 126 last year) and Charlie Darracott (145, 138 last year) are still alive for championships. Blaine Bergey is in the semis at 138 pounds after finishing second at 132 last season, and Cooper Roberts is in the semis at 170 after finishing second in the class a year ago. Union Grove (five semifinalists) and Ola (four semifinalists) also had strong first days.
Jefferson, going for its 18th-straight traditionals state title and 22nd overall, looks well on its way to keeping the streak alive. The Dragons placed wrestlers into the semis in eight weight classes, all but the five largest, and have a defending state champion in Dawson Bates at 132 pounds. Ian Statia finished in second place at 126 pounds a year ago, and Cole Potts finished third at 138. Both are in the title hunt in those same weight classes.