Alexander and Carrollton are the favorites to meet in the finals, and they’ll be challenged by Troup, LaGrange, Shaw, Columbus, Sandy Creek and Fayette County.
“Right now, our two best teams in the region are in the top four in the state,” Mitchem said of Alexander and Carrollton. “The hardest part is they only take two teams from our region, so everybody is trying to beat them out.”
The top-two finishers will advance to the 16-team state duals
“It’s going to be tough,” Mitchem said, whose team may end up forfeiting four weight classes because of wrestlers out with injuries.
Mitchem said that presently, eight wrestlers have serious enough injuries to prevent them from participating.
“A team like Alexander or Carrollton has a full weight class and their guys are good. It’s going to be tough,” Mitchem said. “We’re in an uphill battle with that.
“We still have a lot of kids out. Hernias, shoulders, low iron – I’m sure it’s that way for all the teams.”
Troup initially was fighting a variety of illnesses early on in the season, including a wide-spread flu bug.
Now, injuries have become the team’s Achille’s heel.
The show must go on, though, and the Tigers will bring some talented wrestlers to the mat on Saturday.
The Tigers will look to a handful of wrestlers who have been consistent this season.
They include Cameron Cato, who is 8-5, Adam Love (22-8), Michael Mackfield (15-7), Jederrious Smith (16-10) and Dakota Wilson (13-10).
Cato, a sophomore, has been a consistent wrestler and has been working to drop enough weight to wrestle at 106 pounds.
“This season things are going pretty good,” Cato said before Thursday’s practice. “My shoulder has been acting up a little bit from last season, but I’ve recovered pretty well and thanks to the coaches, I’ve had a pretty good season. I’m trying to get down to 108. My chances are pretty good if I stick to my diet and do what my coaches tell me.”
Smith has also been a force this season, although the sophomore has been nursing a sprained ankle all week.
He’s been using ice and elevation to reduce the swelling.
“My season has gone well so far since it is my third year wrestling,” Smith said. “I’ll be ready to go this weekend. I think I’ll do pretty good. I’m just going to go out there and do the best I can and work hard.”
Troup tuned up the area duals when it traveled to Cedartown on Wednesday to wrestle in the Bulldog Slam.
It turned out to be an outstanding showing for the Tigers, who finished third out of 14 teams in the event, placing seven team members in the top six.
Cato was second at 113 pounds, Will Lundberg was third at 113 pounds, Wilson was fourth at 120 pounds, Love was third at 132 pounds, Jonathan Scott was fourth at 160 pounds, Tanius Harris was third at 170 pounds, and Mackfield was second at 220 pounds.
The Tigers also participated in a tournament at Fayette County last weekend and finished 14th out of 28 teams.
Cassidy Carden was sixth in the 182-pound weight class.