The Bowdon High School wrestling coach is taking the quartet of seniors Connor Wigginton and Saeje Brown, along with junior Trevor McCray and freshman Hunter Jones to the Centreplex, and McWhorter wants them to compete free and loose without tensing up due to the environment or the moment.
“I told them early in the week, I said, ‘Be excited. Wrestling is not a sport for everybody. It takes a special person to be a wrestler,’” McWhorter said. “These guys have been through it week-in and week-out. This is why we go to Smiths Station during the season, for the tough tournaments and tough matches. But I think they’re ready. If it was another month long in the season, I don’t think we could get any more ready than we are now.”
Wigginton, wrestling at 195 pounds, earned a Class AA West Sectional title at Lamar County last Saturday, while McCray (106) came in second, Brown (220) took third and Jones (113) came in fourth.
McWhorter said all four have the opportunity to make a strong showing this weekend, and the Red Devil coach is really excited about Wigginton’s draw at 195, beginning with a quarterfinal match against Jimmy Haynes of Social Circle today at 1 p.m.
“Being a senior, I think he’s the most excited of the four. He’s just ready to go. And the year he’s had, he’s had a lot of second-place finishes, a lot of first-place finishes. I’m looking for big things out of him. I really think he’s got a shot if he goes in and does what he’s supposed to. I think we’ll have some good things on him Saturday,” McWhorter said.
Brown, who was a state-placer last year in Class A, opens against Eziekal George of East Laurens and could potentially run into Northeast Macon’s Allen Moss in the semifinals, with Moss sporting a perfect 40-0 record this year.
Still, McWhorter said Brown won’t be at any disadvantage strength-wise or athletically against anyone in his 220-pound bracket.
“Saeje has been there, so it’s all in Saeje’s hands. He’s not going to get a kid any more athletic than he is. I don’t think he’s going to get a kid stronger than he is. It’s just a matter of we’ve got to go wrestle,” McWhorter said. “I think he wants to be in that final match. That’s his goal and it’s been his goal since last year.”
The experience of having a trip to state under his belt should also help Brown this time around.
“I think last year really caught him off-guard. This year he knows what he’s looking for. I think he’s real relaxed this year. I don’t think the venue or anything like that’s going to bother him, I don’t think the crowd’s going to bother him. I think he knows what he has to do,” McWhorter said.
For McCray, he squares off against Hunter Hemmings of Greater Atlanta Christian in today’s quarterfinal round and then would likely face top-seeded Chase Piperato of Jefferson in the semifinals should the Red Devil junior win his first match.
“Trevor’s got a kid from GAC that’s got to be a pretty good wrestler. We know a little bit about him, but he’s going to be pretty good. He made it there. We’re real happy with Trevor, but Trevor’s held his own all year. We’re hoping that he can step in there and do what he’s been doing,” McWhorter said.
Jones, the freshman, didn’t get any favors in his draw, matching up against the defending state champion at 106 pounds in Dublin’s D’Angelo Darrisaw, who is 38-1 this year. But making it to state as a freshman gives promise of big things to come for the Red Devil lightweight.
“It’s not the draw that we wanted, but we’re still going to approach it as it’s a different year and it’s all new. But Hunter being a freshman, I’m real proud of what he’s done this year,” McWhorter said. “It takes a lot to get there as a freshman. So we’ve definitely got something to build on.”