JEFFERSON WRESTLING

The Jefferson bench shows its support during a recent Dragon wrestling match. Jefferson will host the Region 8-AAAA duals Friday (Jan. 15). 

Jefferson wrestling coach Kyle Baird said his guys are probably growing tired of hearing his voice in practice — and they’ve been practicing for a while.

The Dragons haven’t wrestled since Dec. 17 due to matches being canceled and then the team experiencing its own 10-day COVID-19 quarantine. But that will change when they host the Region 8-AAAA duals Friday (Jan. 15, 4 p.m.).

Jefferson, the No. 1 seed for the tournament, is eager to return to the competitive mat.

“I don’t know if I’m more ready or the kids are more ready,” Baird said. “I’m sure they’re tired of hearing me run them through practice the last month or so. They’re probably pretty eager and tired of hearing my voice … All the kids are fired up.”

Baird said he’s tried to inject some energy and fun into the extended practice time, which included a spit-squad scrimmage this past Friday in preparation for the dual postseason.

“I made it as real as I could make it,” Baird said.

But there have been some positives from the extended break from matches, according to Baird, who said wrestlers’ bodies are fresh and opponents won’t be entirely sure which weight classes his wrestlers will compete.

As for this Friday’s tournament, the Dragons, who moved up from Class AAA this year, are competing in a new region which includes North Oconee, Flowery Branch, Madison County, Chestatee, East Hall and Cedar Shoals.

Both Flowery Branch and Madison County have some good wrestlers in their lineups, according to Baird, but North Oconee appears to be the top team with which the Dragons must contend.

Meanwhile, Jefferson is healthy enough now to fill out all 14 weight classes.

“We’re about as full strength as we’ve been all year right now” Baird said. “Which is a good thing. Because we’re pretty dang tough with all 14 guys in the lineup.”

The top four teams from Friday’s region duals will advance to the Jan. 23 state dual preliminaries, which Jefferson will host should it win the region title.

The Dragons are set to host the dual state championships on Jan. 30.

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