After 10 Banks County High School wrestlers made it from the area tournament to sectionals, chances were a Leopard contingent was possible for Macon and the state wrestling tournament.
The contingent is a reality as eight of the 10 Leopards made it from the Class 2A-A sectionals and will compete in the 2020 GHSA traditional state tournament, Feb. 13-15 in Macon.
The Banks County talent headed to Macon includes Jacob Voyles (106 pounds), Angel Cruz (113), Evan Clark (132), Parker Hobson (138), Kellon Walley (145), Gabe Dodd (152), Josh Stapleton (195) and Erwin Durmic (220).
"We wrestled well enough to put eight in," head coach Kasey Hanley said. "I thought we had several guys that finally had a breakthrough. We have several others that, I believe, can do extremely well.
"I think the mental part is what's hurting some now. If they realize how good they are, or if they are able to calm the nerves and just wrestle, we will be in good position."
Hanley added Banks County is tied for third for the most wrestlers sent in Class AA. Oglethorpe County (10) and Chattanooga (9) are the only teams with more wrestlers.
"We just need to wrestle to our potential," Hanley said. "Each wrestler needs to do that. At the end of the day, I want each one to be able to leave Macon with no regrets. I want them to be able to walk off the mat in each match and be able to say, 'I gave all I had.'"
Clark and Hobson both finished first in their respected weight classes at sectionals. The first-place finishes earned them a bye in the first round. Each wrestler is two wins away from state titles.
Clark defeated Lane Gomes of Oglethorpe County in the sectional finals. Clark won via pinfall. Hobson defeated Zaine Tuck of Oglethorpe County via a 16-9 decision.
Clark defeated Blake Hall, Braydon Pines and Jarett Young on his way to the finals. Hobson had a bye in the first round, and then defeated Nic Jordan and Cristian Hall on his way to the finals.
Clark will meet the winner of the Jarett Young-Bradrick Bennett match to open his state tournament experience. Hobson will face Arael Rodriguez or Hunter Wilson.
Voyles, Dodd and Stapleton all won in the consolation finals at sectionals.
Voyles defeated Jose Balderas via pinfall to finish third. Voyles will open state vs. Seth Singleton.
Dodd defeated Oglethorpe County's Clay Frost via pinfall for a third-place finish at sectionals. Dodd opens state vs. Sean Houston.
Stapleton, one of the Leopards' three area champions, took down Joah Gay of Dodge County to finish third. Stapleton won via pinfall. Stapleton will face Gage Cole in the first round of the state tournament.
Cruz, Walley and Durmic all finished fourth at sectionals. In the consolation finals, Cruz fell to Chayton Tuck; Walley lost to Jacob Bergman; and Durmic lost to Gavin Hill.
Cruz opens in Macon with Gavin Mastrangelo. Walley will go against Ford Jones. Durmic opens with Adam Lingerfelt.