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Hard road prepared Wolves for area meet

The Wesleyan wrestling team has taken its lumps when it wrestled in tournaments against schools in larger classifications this season.

Second-year Wesleyan coach Jeff Bedard hopes that by his wrestlers competing in those tough tournaments it has them ready for this weekend when the Wolves compete in the Area 4-AA tournament.

"I think it helps them tremendously," Bedard said. "They wrestle the best guys in the state in Class AAAAA and by the time they face kids in AA they don't feel the heat."

The Area 4-AA tournament will be held at Oglethorpe County High School beginning at 5 p.m. today and will resume at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Parkview will host the Area 8-AAAAA tournament and North Gwinnett will host the 7-AAAAA tourney this weekend. The Panthers are the favorite in Area 8 and Collins is expected to take Area 7.

Wesleyan will have the tough task of trying to knock off Lovett, the defending area champs and the team that beat Wesleyan in the area dual tournament three weeks ago.

"I feel good about the team, but we're going to have our hands full with Lovett," Bedard said. "They're the favorites going into it."

Bedard hopes to have 10 wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, which will be held at the Arena at Gwinnett Center Feb. 9 to 11. The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the state tournament with fifth place being an alternate.

Last season, Wesleyan had seven wrestlers qualify for state.

The Wolves should have six wrestlers seeded one or two for the tournament, meaning they should have at least six in the finals.

Sam Ball (112 pounds) leads the group with a 41-11 record and is a two-time state placer. Kelby Smith (189) is 42-13 this season and Jay Heslin (135) is 35-16. Kip Thompson (140) is 32-19, freshman Michael Douglas (160) is 32-20, and Edward Van Winkle is 13-8 after fighting off injuries this season and all three are expected to be seeded high as well.

"Hopefully we are ready to go," Bedard said.

In 8-AAAAA, Parkview is the heavy favorite after winning the state duals title two weeks ago in Macon. The Panthers' next major goal is the traditional state title, and the first step is qualifying wrestlers for the state tournament next weekend at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

State duals runner-up Collins Hill, last year's duals and traditional state champion, is the team to beat in the 7-AAAAA tourney at North.

WRESTLING SCHEDULE

Area 8-AAAAA Championships

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Parkview H.S.

Area 7-AAAAA Championships

When: Today, 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: North Gwinnett H.S.

Area 4-AA Championships

When: Today, 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Oglethorpe County H.S.