Banks County wrestling head coach Kasey Hanley said last week’s Area 4-AA tournament was “different from one round to the next.”
The Leopards didn’t get any individual area champions. But, the team did see 10 wrestlers qualify for this weekend’s Class AA East sectionals at Rockmart High School.
“We had some great rounds. I think our first two rounds were really, really good,” Hanley said. “Then when it got to the pressure round of the semifinals, I think the pressure kind of got to some of them.
“But, all in all, you qualify 10 kids for the sectionals tournament, that’s basically you have 10 kids that are top 16 in the state. I can’t be too disappointed in it.”
Zach Millwood (126 pounds), Davis Day (160), John Brooks (182) and Terrance Walker (195) all finished runner-up in their weight class.
Parker Hobson (106), Anthony Cruz (132) and Jesus Lara (170) finished third. Nick Stout (113), Allen Jones (120) and Zack Dean (220) placed fourth in their weight class.
The first two rounds were the difference in getting more wrestlers through to sectionals, Hanley explained.
“Everybody really came to wrestle those first two rounds,” he said. “I mean, everybody really, really wrestled well.”
The Leopards had 13 kids still alive after the first day. The Leopards finished third overall behind Social Circle and Elbert County.
“Nobody wins state during the area tournament,” Hanley said. “I’m not disappointed in it. We’ve been on both sides of it, where we’re the one that beat kids at area and sectionals and lost to them in state.
“But, we’ve also been on the other side of it, where we’ve lost at area, lost at sectionals but beat those guys at state. We’ve just got to get to the state tournament. Once you’re there, anything can happen.”
Hanley said the team is “pretty excited” to head to sectionals after the strong showing.
“We had a lot of guys that really surpassed their seed and that was what you want to do,” Hanley said. “That was really the key to qualifying ten.”
Handling the pressure is going to be the biggest key to success at sectionals, Hanley elaborated.
“I think we really felt it in the consolation semis and the semis,” he said.
Most had never been in the semifinals of any tournament, let alone the area tournament semifinals before last weekend, Hanley added.
“A lot of them were just completely frozen by the anxiety of the situation,” he explained. “That’s where they were at. They were just frozen.
“Definitely started putting in some technique to get over that and hopefully next week be a little more prepared to handle that type of stress.”
Some of the competition at sectionals will include wrestlers from Social Circle and Elbert County, a familiar foe to the Leopards.
Hanley believes seeing some of the competition one week ago can benefit his guys.
Hanley wrestled in high school for legendary Jefferson Jack King. King believed wrestling was 90 percent mental, Hanley said.
“The first time that you wrestle somebody that you’ve never wrestled before, there’s a lot of that kind of fear of the unknown,” Hanley said. “You don’t know these guys. You’ve heard their name, but you don’t know them.
“So, you’re kind of scared of how good they are and how good you heard they are. Until you actually wrestle them, you don’t know. So, some of those close matches we lost, I think we’ve got a good chance of putting those matches in our favor this time.”