So as the Blue Devils embark on Jasper County High School in Monticello for Friday’s 5 p.m. start of the two-day event, it will have been nearly two weeks since they wrestled in a competitive environment. The four-time defending state traditional champions will have to dust off a little rust once they finally hit the mat again after having a team back out of a dual meet last week. But with the extra time in the room, Armas expects his squad will be hungry to get going.
“They’re chomping at the bit, I think. We didn’t go anywhere last weekend by plan. But we also had a dual meet canceled last week, which was not the plan. It’s just the way it went,” Armas said. “So it’s a little bit longer layoff than I expected. I was trying to plan for a nine or 10-day layoff and we ended up with a 13-day layoff.”
Bremen is one of three local squads heading to Monticello this weekend, joined by Bowdon and Temple, which will be looking to record as many top-four finishes throughout the lineup as possible to move on to the Class AA West Sectional at Lamar County on Feb. 8-9. The top-four finishers from sectionals advance to the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships in Macon on Feb. 14-16.
Bowdon coach Craig McWhorter is also hopeful of a strong showing this weekend, noting that his team is as healthy as its best in quite some time.
“We’ve had a lot of bumps and bruises along the way. Had some injuries with people hurting their nose and fingers and thumbs and knees, but I think we all seem to be healthy again. That’s the biggest plus right now is to walk in there and be able to compete at a good physical ability,” McWhorter said.
The Red Devils are taking 13 grapplers to Monticello, and McWhorter expects Bremen to obviously present a challenge, along with the host school and Spencer. The Bowdon coach said squaring off against both Spencer and Jasper County at the area duals in Bremen proved to be a solid measuring stick for where his team stands heading into this weekend.
“You know, Bremen’s Bremen. That’s kind of what we always say about them. We can’t worry about Bremen. We’ve got to worry about what we can do and the people we can handle. We wrestled [Jasper County] really good to challenge for second at Bremen. It really came down to just one match. It could have went either way — take six one way and six the other way — but we got to see some matchups in that one that will help us out a little bit,” McWhorter said.
“The day at Bremen probably helped us out more than any day all year. We got to see Spencer and what they had and we had some close matches with them. They’ve got some good athletes in the middle and they’re going to be tough in those weight classes.”
Bremen is taking 12 wrestlers to Jasper County, and Armas said it’s just a matter of getting them all through at this point.
“We’ve been bumping around trying to cover them all for the duals. But now I think you’ve just got to put kids where they actually fit,” Armas said. “So we’ll just see what we can get done. I think if we can wrestle to our ability, we’ll be OK.”
The Red Devils had eight guys place at last weekend’s Bowdon Invitational, led by Connor Wigginton, Avery McWhorter and Trevor McCray recording second-place finishes.
Craig McWhorter said he’d like to get all four of his seniors — Wigginton, Saeje Brown, Hunter Lewis and Stephen Strausser — through to sectionals.
“It’d be great to get all of  them, but realistically if we can get half, that’d be great. And who comes out, you really don’t know. You’ve got to see the matchups,” Craig McWhorter said. “But overall, I like my chances. I like where my kids stack up. It’s just one of those things that you’ve got to go in there and wrestle now and get one of those top four — and that’s tough. There’s no slouches in double-A right now.”
Temple had one wrestler — Taylor Martin — place at the Bowdon Invitational, taking fifth. Tiger coach Wallace Hall could not be reached for comment as of press time Wednesday evening.