WATTS

East Jackson's Noah Watts wrestles on Jan. 10 during the Area 6-AAA duals.

With only one senior graduating from last year’s lineup, the East Jackson wrestling program continues to build a lineup under coach Andrew Gaddy.

“We have slowly built the program up over the last three years and are almost there,” he said. “The kids that we do have are tough, hard-nosed kids that are hungry to compete.”

Gaddy looks forward to guiding a squad of wrestlers with three-to-four years of varsity competition under their belts. Still, the Eagles weakness is not filling all their weight classes.

Nevertheless, the program won a match at the area duals last year — its first victory there in years — and sent a wrestler to the state tournament as the Eagles’ strides on the mat continue.

•Lineup: East Jackson returns a strong core with Xander Engel and Noah Watts highlighting the that group. Watts advanced to the state tournament last year. Gaddy also looks for big seasons out of Tyler Crow, Justin Cassidy and Ben Lampe. Cassidy qualified for the state sectionals last year.

•Schedule: The Eagles’ tournament schedule includes dates at Dawson County, Jackson County, Loganville and Elbert County and at the East Metro.

•Area/state outlook: East Jackson shifts from a nine-team area to one with six teams, though Gaddy doesn’t expect the competition to be any less formidable. Gaddy said it will be interesting to see how the area postseason plays out. “There is a very high quality of wrestling in this area and every match is going to be tough,” Gaddy said.

•Goals: The Eagles look to build on progress made last season. East Jackson beat Hart County 41-27 at the area duals last year for its first win in several years. “Our kids are just now realizing how successful they can be,” Gaddy said.

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