Each of the four teams got in three dual matches, but the highlight of the night was Bremen clashing with Carrollton. Both schools have state championship aspirations in their respective classes, and the two didn't disappoint. The host Blue Devils came away with the 40-23 win, as six individual state champions from a year ago were featured.
At 126 pounds, Bremen's Cory Morgan and Carrollton's Jake Adcock met as the only two to go up against each other, as Adcock came away with the 6-1 decision. Trojan Taylor Lujan picked up a tech fall at 152 pounds and Travis Joyce (170/182) got a pin, while Bremen's Tristan Williams (138), Darron Boxley (170) and Joe Bexley (hwy) got pins.
Now that the Blue Devils have a more structured lineup, there is a little more stability heading into Friday's Area 5-AA dual meet.
"I wouldn't say it was a warm-up day. Carrollton is as good as they come now. They're ready to do a lot of good things in AAAA," Bremen coach Tony Armas said. "We finally were able to put a lineup out there. We've been leaving Tristan Williams out of the lineup, who's a two-time state placer because we couldn't get him in the lineup. Now we have some guys making some sacrifices and are pretty solid from 126 through 145. A lot better than we were before."
Carrollton coach Ryan Wilman liked what he saw from his slightly undermanned squad.
"We've been banged up. Had a couple kids out and a couple kids with the flu bug. It's just one of those things this kind of year," Wilman said. "We had two kids banged up and one out with the flu. I'd like to see it with our full lineup and see how we compete, but my hat's off to Bremen. They came out ready to compete, ready to go and came out with a good victory."
Central ended its day on a high note. After dropping a 64-15 dual with Bremen and a 62-10 match with Carrollton, the Lions picked up a 37-30 victory in their final dual against Walton. Second-year Central coach Marcus Marenda knows his team is young and it will have to learn from facing competition of the caliber it saw on Wednesday.
"Yeah, this was some very stiff competition," Marenda said. "For us, we're a young team and learning how to pick ourselves up against very stiff competition like Bremen and Carrollton is part of the growing pains we're having to learn with a young team. [Wednesday] we had one senior in the lineup. When I look at it from that perspective, I think we wrestled very well ... It's always good to end the night with a win. Walton, which is a tough team out of AAAAAA, they're just a year away from a top-10 team placement at state and a year or two out of state dual qualification."
Aside from the defeat to Bremen, the Trojans knocked off Walton, 57-21, and Central, 62-10. Against Bremen, though, that was the type of match the Trojans would face every time they get on the mat if he could make his schedule that way. And with a tough schedule, Wilman eventually wants to have a team where the toughest competition it faces is each other on the practice mats.
"To be honest with you, if I'm setting up a schedule, I'd love to wrestle nothing but the competition Bremen's going to bring, that Alexander's going to bring, that Gilmer's going to bring. To me, there is no point in wrestling someone you know you're going to beat. I'd rather wrestle people that could beat you if they wrestle really well and you can beat them if you wrestle really well," Wilman said.
Central's top performers were Jarrett Thomas at 160 pounds, Levi Huckeba (152) and Kirey Thompson (195), all going 2-1. Also, Joe Simpkins (170), Aaron Smith (220) and Timothy Duffey (126) all had wins.
Now the important thing for the Lions is learning from Wednesday's matches as they head into this weekend's area dual meet and the rest of this season.
"Part of the learning process for us this season is how do we pick ourselves back up and say, 'What can we learn from this experience? What are these teams that are very successful, what are they doing really well?'" Marenda said. "I think our kids are learning from that."
As for Bremen, it was just a chance to get a little more dual meet work in before Friday. The Blue Devils have had success, only dropping duals to defending state champions, but the more work the better for the Bremen coach.
"We've had some good duals. I think were 11-2 now. We haven't done a lot of dual meets. We wrestled at the Rockmart duals and lost to Gilmer. We went up to Collins Hill and got drilled by Pope pretty good. We've gotten some quality wins and we just came in here and broke each dual meet into five smaller dual meets and we had an idea what we wanted the score to be in each three or four matches. It was pretty good," Armas said. "Now we've just got to get going and get ready for the area duals."