The Jackson County wrestling team won’t travel to the state duals in Macon as an area champion, but it is still making the trip. That, in itself, is reason for excitement, coach Jason Powers said.

“You know, we’ve made it to Macon,” Powers said after Friday's (Jan. 10) area duals. “Any time you can make it to Macon, you have an opportunity to do something. If you don’t make it to Macon, then you don’t have an opportunity. We have the opportunity. We have the opportunity to get on the mat and get better for three days, and go after it again.”

This is the fifth-consecutive year the Panthers have qualified for the Class AAA duals. The tournament runs Thursday through Saturday.

Jackson County fell to Jefferson Friday (Jan. 10) in the Area 6-AAA dual finals but still secured another trip to Macon with a second-place finish.

“It (finishing second) stings, but I think our kids are going to be tough enough to get back in the (wrestling) room … and go ‘OK. We’re going to get better. We’ll get there,’” Powers said.

Jackson County finished second in Class AAA in 2016 but enters this state tournament having finished fourth three years in a row.

"We definitely want to improve on that," Powers said.

Jackson County has earned a No. 3 seed for the 12-team tournament. Jefferson, is the No. 1 seed. North Hall is the No. 2 seed. Sonoraville is the No. 4 seed. All four teams will receive first-round byes in the bracket.

Powers said his team stands to have a tough quarterfinals matchup with, most likely, Adairsville. If the Panthers win that, they would in all likelihood face North Hall in the semifinals.

"We can compete with the best teams in the state when we are firing on all cylinders," Powers said. "I expect us to be ready to go this weekend and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish."

The Class AAA state duals begin Thursday (Jan. 16) with the round of 12 at 3:45 p.m. followed by the quarterfinals at 8:15 p.m. The semifinals are set for Friday (Jan. 17, 6 p.m.). The finals and consolation finals are scheduled for Saturday (Jan. 18) at 3 p.m.

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