The road to the AAAA State Traditional Tournament starts Saturday at Stephens County High School where the Region 8-AAAA Champions will be crowned.

Four Red Raiders are defending their region championships. Josh Kincaid (126 lbs.), Rowan Smith (138 lbs), Jaxon Hoetzel (182 lbs), and Hamilton Cooper (220 lbs.) each won region titles last season. Kincaid is going for his third-straight region crown and eventually hopes to wrestle for his second-straight state championship.

Kincaid and Cooper returned to the top of the podium last Saturday at the Inferno Invitational hosted by Elbert County. Cooper defeated a defending AAA State Champion from Jackson County in the finals. Hoetzel and Smith didn’t compete.

10 Red Raiders in total advanced to the AAAA East Sectionals last season, but only two other wrestlers will attempt to repeat. Charlie Hooper (113 lbs.) and Austin Kerns (152 lbs.) both placed third in their respective weight classes last season and they enter this Saturday’s tournament with some momentum. Kerns placed third at the Inferno Invitational, Hooper finished fourth. Kerns also had a strong showing at the Region 8-AAAA Duals where he defeated opponents from Oconee County and Stephens County, and defeated a region rival from North Oconee at the AAAA State Duals.

The top four wrestlers in each weight class Saturday will advance to the AAAA East Sectionals at Lanier High School (Sugar Hill) next weekend (February 7-8). The top eight wrestlers at sectionals advance to the AAAA State Tournament at the Macon Coliseum (February 12-15).

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