Members the Carrollton High School wrestling team will board a bus and travel down to the Macon Centreplex today to compete in the first day of the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships.
The Trojans will be sending eight grapplers down to compete at the event — six boys and two girls.
The group of six that will be competing in the Class AAAAA boys’ tournament is highlighted by Chase Sippola, who will compete at 195 pounds, Brent Parivechio (120) and Kaleb Thomaston (145).
Carrollton head coach Michael Cleek described the trio as being the “bell cows” for his squad, saying they’ve been the leaders for the Trojans throughout the season.
Rounding out the group are ShyQuan Johnson (160), Brock Bibee (220) and Robert Johnson (hvy.).
“Robert is a first-year guy doing a phenomenal job for us this year,” Cleek said. “Brock, a 10th-grader really coming into his own, finished third at region. I’m really proud of him. And then a good surprise and blessing for us this year was at 160 we had a freshman, just a heck of an athlete, in ShyQuan.
“These six guys came through one heck of an area — probably the toughest area in the state — and then through a sectional that was just as hard, if not harder than our area. So I’m expecting great things from these young men at the state tournament.”
This year will mark the first time the GHSA has ever put on a girls’ state tournament, and the Trojans will be sending a pair of wrestlers — Alejandrina Griggs and Evelyn Diaz — to compete in the 146-pound bracket.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Cleek said. “We have a girls’ region champion in Alejandrina Griggs, and we also had Evelyn Diaz qualify. She was third in region. We’re really proud of these young girls for being kind of a trendsetter in this organization.”
With a number of his state qualifiers set to duel on the big stage in Macon for the first time, Cleek is hopeful the Trojans’ trips to Birmingham to compete in the Heart of Dixie Invitational and Chattanooga for the McCallie Invitational earlier this season will go a long way toward calming any nerves this week.
“We go to the bigger tournaments so that they kind of get used to being under the lights and it’s not as intimidating to them. But the first time you step into the arena at Macon, it is something to behold and it really takes some people aback,” Cleek said. “Fortunately, the majority of our team have already been there before. They know what to expect, and we’re going to lean on their experience in this situation.”
Among the state tournament returnees the Trojans will be leaning on this week is Parivechio. Before practice on Tuesday, the junior discussed the responsibility he’s taken on to help mentor the younger kids prior to Carrollton’s trip to Macon.
“I’m just trying to talk to these freshmen and newcomers and telling them not to get focused on all the flashiness and just focus on that this is what it all comes down to,” he said. “You’ve just got to focus on wrestling in this one tournament, being on weight and just being prepared.”
Sippola, another one of the Trojan leaders, will be looking to make a splash in his second trip to Macon for traditional tournament.
“This is my second time going, so this is only my second experience at state, but I’ve been real focused these past couple weeks,” he said. “I’ve been busting my butt trying to get as much work in as I can and trying to be as prepared as I can.”