The last time the Commerce wrestling program went to Macon, it suffered its first post-season loss since 2013.
A month has passed since the state duals loss to Trion. Now, Commerce heads back to Macon with 10 wrestlers (9 boys, 1 girl), looking to win its seventh-straight traditional state championship.
Daniel Nash (106), Dawson Legg (113), Caleb Lovin (120), Bryson Flint (126), Brayden Phillips (170), Jake Frates (182), Elijah Burns (195), Josh Frates (220), Ethan Epps (285) and Mkaila McCormick (girls, 142).
"It should be a four team race between Trion, Mt. Pisgah, Holy Innocents and us," head coach Kendall Love said. "We have fewer numbers this year at state, but I feel like the guys that we have going all have a great shot at doing well.
"I just want them to trust the work they have put in and get after it. I have no doubt they will wrestle hard, and hopefully, finish out the season on a good note. I am super proud of the way they have continued to work, despite having faced some adversity this year. We only have one senior competing this weekend, so the future looks bright."
At last weekend's (Feb. 7-8) Class A-A sectional, Commerce got five first-place finishers: Nash, Legg, Flint, Jake Frates and Burns. All five will have byes in the first round at state.
Nash will face the winner of the Jay Patel-Rhett Sherk match. Legg waits for either Zech Layfield or Matthew Morse. Flint will compete against Kobe Beard or Anthony Vazquez. Jake Frates will go against Joseph Ulrich or Cole Spence. Burns awaits the winner between Chris Wilson and Nick Collins.
Phillips and Josh Frates finished second at sectionals. They both also have byes into the second round.
Epps finished fourth at sectionals. His state run begins against Tyler White in the first round. Lovin finished sixth. He takes on Nathan Boone in the first round.
"I thought the kids wrestled hard and competed well," Love said about sectionals. "We lost some close matches that I felt like we could've won, but that happens at a tournament of this size.
"We also found a way to win some close ones. We are going to try to carry the momentum of sectionals into the state tournament. We will have a short week of practice this week in preparation, but the guys know what is at stake and will be ready."
McCormick placed second in her sectional. The freshman faces Tristan Music in the first round of her 142-pound bout. She is the only girl representing the Commerce girls' team in Macon.