COVINGTON -- Eight local Newton County wrestlers will each head to the Arena at the Gwinnett Center on Thursday to try to become a state champion.
Eastside has the most representatives with five wrestlers, followed by two from Newton and one from Alcovy.
"We had five out of nine get through," said Eastside wrestling coach Earl Larimer. "I was hoping to get six out, but it's tough and we took a lot of kids that have never been to sectional."
Of the five that made it out of the Class AAA East Sectional at West Laurens and are heading to the state meet, three are doing so as a No. 1 seed: Tyler Bailey (113-pound weight class), Misha Felton (120) and Kevin Thompson (138). The other two from Eastside are Dylan Gilmore (132) and Jacob Wilder (170).
"One thing that really excites me is that the three big guns all got No. 1 seeds. The others have never been to sectional. Of the four that didn't make it through, three were one match away and that's tough," Larimer said.
Newton's Jeremy Fuller (170) finished fourth in the Class AAAAA East Sectional at Tift County for his second trip to the state tournament.
"Jeremy Fuller was three seed coming in so it was an uphill battle from the beginning," said Newton head coach Paul Nelson.
After losing his first match of the sectional, Zack Jenkins (152) ran through the rest of the pack to head to state as the No. 6 seed.
"It was great for Zack to go. He fought really, really hard and didn't give up," Nelson said. "We had nine going in, so it was bittersweet only getting two through."
Alcovy, who took three wrestlers to the Class AAAA West Sectional at Northside, Columbus, has Kenneth Queh heading to the Class AAAA state tournament as the No. 2 seed after losing in the championship match.
"He had a great tournament," said Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman. "He wrestled real well in the finals against a kid that could possibly win state. I was very proud of him."