Chris Hardin didn’t need any extra motivation for his team this week. All the Parkview wrestling coach had to do was remind his team of last year’s area duals.
The Panthers finished third at the tournament, failing to qualify for the state tournament for the first time since it started.
“Oh yeah, it’s motivation,” Hardin said. “The returners bring it up and they want to use that as motivation.”
What: Area 8-AAAAA duals
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.
What: Area 7-AAAAA duals
When: Saturday, 9 a.m.
What: Area 6-AA duals
Where: Greater Atlanta Christian
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.
What: Area 2-A duals
When: Today, 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m.
Parkview enters Saturday’s Area 8-AAAAA duals at Grayson as the No. 1 seed, with a goal of its ninth trip to the state duals in Macon.
“We’re the No. 1 seed and everyone is coming after us,” Hardin said.
Parkview earned the No. 1 seed by winning the Gwinnett County championship last month. It was one of several strong showings for the Panthers at tournaments this season. They took eighth at the Zac Jarnzyka tournament, one of the toughest tournaments in Florida over the holiday break. The Panthers also have top-five finishes at three duals tournaments this season.
“I think it will be the best team we’ve put on the mat all year,” Hardin said.
Parkview will have to go through a tough area to make it back to state. There are five strong teams fighting for two spots.
Brookwood won its first area crown last season and Grayson was runner-up for the third straight season. Both will be in the mix along with a senior-laden Dacula squad and up-and-coming second-year program Archer.
“There’s a lot of parity in our area,” Hardin said. “We’re trying not to dwell on last year, but we want to remember what it feels like so it doesn’t happen again.”
In Area 7-AAAAA, it’s a battle for second place. Three-time defending state champion Collins Hill is the clear favorite to win its seventh straight crown. That leaves the rest of the area fighting for the No. 2 spot. North Gwinnett and Peachtree Ridge are the strongest contenders.
“I think it’s us and North Gwinnett battling for second place,” Peachtree Ridge coach Danny Sinnott said.
“I think we definitely have a shot. One of us I feel will go with Collins Hill to the state duals. I think it will be a barnburner match.”
North and Peachtree Ridge are expected to meet in the semifinals. North qualified for the state duals once back in 2005 and Peachtree Ridge made it in 2009.
“The semis will be a big, big round,” Sinnott said.
Wesleyan has qualified for the state duals the last six seasons and will host the Area 2-A tournament today and tomorrow.
Greater Atlanta Christian, which has never qualified for state duals, will host the 6-AA meet.