COVINGTON - The Newton wrestling team heads into the Area 2-AAAAA Tournament with high expectations.
The tournament begins at 9 a.m. today at Union Grove High School in McDonough.
"I'm looking for at least 10 to 12 individuals to make state," Newton coach Chris Andrews said. "I'm sure we'll have one or two not do as well as we hope they would."
Having the best chance to win area championships are Corey Ware (119 pounds), Joey Joseph (140) and Danny Mendoza (135).
"If (Joseph) is on top of his game, he has a perfectly good chance of taking first, but it's a tough weight class," Andrews said.
Making things more difficult is not knowing who their opponents are going to be until the seeding meeting.
Last year, Area 2-AAAAA had a 50 percent rule, under which a wrestler had to compete in a particular weight class in half of his matches. This year, however, the coaches have done away with the rule, meaning that as long as a wrestler makes the weight, it doesn't matter where he wrestled prior to a tournament.
Newton's biggest competition will come from the school that has dominated the area for the past two years - Union Grove.
"Union Grove in general is going to be our toughest adversary. It's always a challenge with the rest of the schools," Andrews said.
Of the 13 wrestlers heading to area, Dillon Flores (103), Ryan Mitchell (112), Ware, Carl Collins (125), Aaron Reynolds (130), Mendoza, Joseph, Josea Hines (171), Allen Amancio (215) and Michael Fellows (285) had a .500 record or better against Area 2-AAAAA opponents.
"I don't think we'll have any surprises beyond the regular expectations. The kids that have looked strong all season look strong," Andrews said. "We have a couple of 10th-graders who look really good and a couple of ninth-graders that look good. It's a matter of they can do it, if they want it."
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.