After three years of the "Elite 8" the GHSA has decided to go back to the way things used to be with 2 teams from each Region qualifying for a 16-team bracket for the State Duals. For those new to this format, there are a couple of "quirks" to the bracket that can sometimes impact the seeding of the tournament. First, teams from the same Region, must be on opposite sides of the bracket, and secondly, the first round must be between a Region Champ and a Region Runner-up.
Rockmart vs Towers
Southwest vs Putnam Co
Vidalia vs Cook
Banks Co vs Fellowship Christian
Toombs vs North Murray
Glenn Hills vs Jordan
Landmark Christian vs North Cobb Christian
Berrien vs Union Co
Rockmart is your defending Class 2A Champions, winning in the State Dual Finals last year by 25 points, and they may be even better this year. No one entered the season as a bigger favorite than the Jackets did. With that being said they should breeze through the first two rounds over Towers and Putnam Co to make it to the semifinals.
Vidalia and Cook will be the best match in the first round in this classification, ultimately will Cook be able to handle Vidalia's very impressive upperweights. If they can steal a match or two after 157, then the Hornets will be able pull out the win. Whoever wins that match will see Banks Co in the quarters and that will be a tough match up for either team. Look for Cook to pull it out in the first round, and Banks to push their way to the semifinals against Rockmart.
Toombs and Union Co will have no trouble making their way to the semifinals to face off for the chance to take down Rockmart in the finals. Jordan should handle Glenn Hills in round 1 only to run into a buzzsaw in Toombs during the quarters, while Landmark should get by N. Cobb Christian without much fuss, but then they will run into a very good Union Co team.
Rockmart vs Banks Co- As stated earlier, Rockmart is on another level than most of the teams in this classification. While I don't see a shutout coming here, I think it could be close. Rockmart is just that good.
Prediction- Rockmart over Banks Co by 40+
Toombs Co vs Union Co- Toombs Co finished 3rd at the State Duals last year and they return most of their lineup that captured hardware last year. On the other side of the mat, Union did not advance in the State Tournament, and quite possibly could be the most improved team in the State, in any Classification. Toombs is strongest in the lighter weights and Union is strongest in the upper weights, and they both have some tough guys in the middle. Ultimately the winner of this dual will be the team that is able to limit bonus points when they match up against a top tier opponent. I think we will see a lot of points scored in this dual with several pins, but it will be an unheralded wrestler for one of these teams that picks up an upset to put their team over the top.
Prediction- Toombs over Union Co by 3
Southwest over Towers
Vidalia over Fellowship Christian
North Murray over Glenn Hills
Berrien over North Cobb Christian
Landmark Christian over Southwest
Vidalia over Jordan
Cook over North Murray
Putnam Co over Berrien
Vidalia over Landmark Christian
Putnam over Cook Co
Banks Co over Vidalia
Union Co over Putnam Co
3rd Place Match
Region 8 Finals rematch between Union Co and Banks Co should be another barnburner, but Union Co was able to win last week by 2 and they will have gone through much less of grind to get to this spot. Look for this one to be close once again.
Prediction- Union Co over Banks Co by 5
Rockmart vs Toombs Co- Toombs strength is in the lightweights, but their aren't too many teams in the State that can hang with Rockmart in the lower weights. Because Rockmart is able to neutralize the Strength of Toombs, they will be able to really put the pressure on in the middle and upper weights. Toombs Co does have a couple of top ranked wrestlers in the middle of their order, but they wont be enough to keep this close.
Prediction- Rockmart over Toombs Co by 27