The Bowdon High School wrestling coach was impressed with the level of wrestling that was present in the opening day of the two-day tournament. Calhoun holds the team lead with 91 points, while Heard County is in second (73.5) and Villa Rica in third (68). Other local teams competing included Mt. Zion (60) in sixth, Bowdon (51) in eighth, Central (40) in 11th and Temple in 15th.
"This is just great competition. We've got a lot of good kids from a lot of places. Jackson County's got a lot of kids we weren't expecting that are really good. I was real pleased, though. I thought we came out excited to be wrestling at home. About what I expected out of my crew. A couple of them just run into a couple tough matches," McWhorter said.
The Red Devils have five wrestlers in the semifinals with a chance at the tournament title, starting with 106-pounder Trevor McCray, along with Hunter Jones (113), Avery McWhorter (126), Connor Wigginton (195) and Saeje Brown (220). Then there are another handful battling for third in the wrestlebacks.
"The kids had a good time and we're looking forward to [today]," Craig McWhorter said. "We come in [today] bright and early. They've got to get out of bed ready to go. Our goal will be to put all five of them in the finals at our tournament. Just got to see how the cards fall. Whoever gets out of bed ready to wrestle is going to win. I think we're as good as anybody we match up against."
The Wildcats post the most wrestlers in the semifinals out of the local teams with six advancing to the final four grapplers in their respective weight classes. VR coach Kyle Seeley will have Josh Ivey (113), Sam Preston (120), Tristan Ware (132), Daniel Holland (152), Maurice McGuire (170) and Demetrius Flemister (195) battling for a spot to reach the finals.
That already puts the Wildcats where they were last year with a chance to do even better if the VR wrestlers can get out of the wrestlebacks.
"Our goal was to get seven in. I thought that we could have gotten another one in there. We were a little sluggish in a couple other matches. [Today] we have to finish strong. I think we've set ourselves up pretty well," Seeley said."The great thing is these six that are in the semifinals have already placed. I think I have a couple other guys that can place, as well. That's going to set us up for [area]."
Coming into the weekend, Mt. Zion coach Michael Cleek was worried that his team might be a little complacent after some of the success it has had this season. The Eagles will send four grapplers into the semifinals — Ashton Robinson (106), Hunter Smith (113), Javier Martinez (132) and Fernando Valles (145).
The Eagles also have 10 other wrestlers still alive in the consolation bracket.
"I think some of our guys came out a little bit flat, but we're going to come out and get after it [today]. I think we're going to have everybody back wrestling through and will have a good showing. I'm not disappointed in them. I think even though we came out flat, everybody fought. But we're seeing that we got a little bit complacent and are going to have to battle through some adversity," Cleek said. "I think good things are going to happen [today]."
The Eagles are wrestling without one of the team leaders this weekend in heavyweight Will Sizemore, who is interviewing for the Governor's Honors program.
The past few weeks haven't been to kind to Central coach Marcus Marenda, who has seen his roster shrink with injuries and illness. But, even shorthanded, Central sends four wrestlers — Avery Ward (120), Timothy Duffey (126), Jarrett Thomas (152) and Levi Huckeba (160) — to the semifinals, with Chaz Velez staying alive in the consolation bracket at 195 pounds.
"I'm glad to have them all in the semifinals instead of wrestling back in it. It's a good turnaround for us, considering the string of bad luck we've had coming in to [Friday]. We had a kid we thought we might be able to get back, he didn't make it back. We lost our  to an injury, we lost our  and  to sickness, our 220 to an MCL and plus [Chris] Patterson going down with a concussion [Friday]. We lost half of our kids," Marenda said.
The Tigers won't have anyone in the semifinal rounds, but Alex Jackson (106), Josh Bingham (120), Dakota Weaver (126), Thristan Jackson (138), Devan McGuire (152), Richard Robinson (160), Charles George (170), Chase Flotz (182) and Taylor Martin (190) are all still in competition in the consolation bracket.
With another day to wrestle and learn, Temple coach Wallace Hall feels like his team is doing what is necessary to be successful down the road.
"We were in a lot of close matches. It was just a mistake that can cost you. It's just another learning experience for our guys. That's more important than wins and losses. Just showing they can keep getting better and improving," Hall said.
The action will pick back up today at 9 a.m.