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2020-21 WRESTLING PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
Dylan Fairchild
West Forsyth junior Dylan Fairchild gets up Thursday after defeating No. 1-ranked Ed Pollard from Rockdale County. Photo courtesy Colin Hubbard

Forsyth Central

Key returners: Avery Krippner, Sr.; Branden Redecker, Sr.; Mikel Stowers, Sr.; Preston Ostrowski, So.

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: Forsyth Central welcomes first-year coach Kyle Barr, who replaces Rusty Transue after Transue spent one season at the helm. The Bulldogs are searching for consistency after naming Barr their third head coach in as many years. Barr coached at Chestatee for six years, however, producing two state champions and 20 state placers. The Bulldogs sent eight wrestlers to the state meet last year, led by Avery Krippner (170), who finished as a state runner-up. Region champion Mikel Stowers and region runner-up Tyson Upchurch give Barr a couple more established wrestlers.  

Avery Krippner
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Denmark

Last year's record: 12-16

Key returners:  Josh Wayland, So.; Zach Recker, Jr.; Ethan Culbreth, Sr.; Jake Swart, Sr.; Kolby McCoy, Jr.; Hayden Hilderbrand, Jr.

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: Denmark has a pair of returning state qualifiers in Zack Recker and Ethan Culbreth, but many of last year’s wrestlers either graduated or chose not to wrestle. Denmark head coach said building a consistent group that will buy into the sport of wrestling will be essential for the Danes this season. Hilderbrand, Swart and Wayland each placed at last year’s region meet and were a win away from qualifying for the Class 4A state meet. McCoy’s junior season ended early after an elbow injury, but Brown said his goal is an appearance at the state meet. The Danes will move into one of the state’s most competitive wrestling regions this season.

Lambert

Last year's record: 24-6

Key returners: Drew Wentworth, So.; Mason McClung, Jr.; Davis Dobbs, Jr.; Dylan Lobdell, So.; Addison Poor, Thomas Dossett, Jr.

Key newcomers: Robert Riddle, Sr.; Ethan Kidd, Jr.

Season outlook: Lambert returns a solid core from last year’s team that finished second at the Region 5-7A traditional meet, including region champions Mason McClung and Davis Dobbs. In all, the Longhorns sent seven wrestlers to the state meet last season. Lambert head coach Kevin Contardi said the team has plenty of depth from 126-160, bolstered by McClung (132), Dylan Lobdell (145) and Addison Poor (160). Lambert also returns state runner-up Thomas Dossett at 220. Robert Riddle missed last year because of an injury but is healthy this season, while Contardi expects Ethan Kidd to take a step forward this season.

Dossett_Lyerly
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North Forsyth

Last year's record: 27-11

Key returners: Michael Gryder, So.; Cale Bissell, Jr.; Christopher Henderson, So.; Brandon Peoples, So.; Bentley Wheeler, Jr.; Tristan Graham, Jr.; Victor Reyes, Sr.; Eli Edwards, Jr.

Key newcomers: Reece Meyers, Isaac Hall, So.; Cooper Eglian, So.; Cody Scroggins, Collin Miller, So.

Season outlook: North Forsyth emerged as one of Class 7A’s top duals teams last season, finishing in the top six at the state tournament. Dylan Lyerly won a state championship at 220, while Bentley Wheeler assembled a 45-4 record and finished as a state runner-up at 160. Lyerly suffered an injury during football season, though, and North Forsyth head coach Travis Jarrard knows it won’t be the only hurdle the Raiders face this season, given the challenges presented by COVID-19. North also returns state qualifiers Michael Gryder, Cale Bissell, Tristan Graham and Victor Reyes.

Pinecrest Academy

Key returners: Mark Metz, Sr.; Breckin Barbee, Jr.; Brock Barbee, So.; Lewis Diaz, Jr.

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: Bolstered by two-time state champion Mark Metz, Pinecrest Academy is coming off its most successful season, with two wrestlers – Joseph Metz also won at 152 pounds – capturing state titles.

South Forsyth

Last year's record: 14-8

Key returners: Juan Cruz, Sr.; Andrew Meersman, So.; Sai Gudipati, Sr.; Matthew Meersman, Sr.; Cole Williams, So.

Key newcomers: Mikey Meersman, Fr.

Season outlook: South Forsyth returns a trio of state qualifiers in Juan Cruz, Sai Gudipati and Cole Williams. Cruz went 53-19 as a junior and finished fifth at the state meet. Williams and Andrew Meersman look to build off promising freshman campaigns, with both wrestlers finishing last season as region runners-up. Andrew Meersman is one of three brothers on the team, joining senior Matthew Meersman and freshman Mikey Meersman. South Forsyth head coach Josh Stephen said the War Eagles dealt with several injuries last season and hopes the team can remain healthy this year.

West Forsyth

Key returners: Noah Amick, Jr.; Chase Murray, Sr.; Brody Knapp, Sr.; Ethan Rickert, Sr.; Daba Fofana, Sr.; Jay Helstone, Jr.; Spencer Bovenizer, Sr.; Dylan Fairchild, Sr.

Key newcomers: Reed Walker Fr.; Noah Danforth, Fr.; Zander McBeth, So.; Dylan Stonebraker, So.; Christian Walker, Jr.

Season outlook: West Forsyth head coach Evan Goff said the Wolverines have nearly 65 wrestlers on their roster, which gives the team plenty of depth. West Forsyth captured its second straight region championship at the Region 5-7A duals last season, then knocked off Archer at the state duals to finish third in Class 7A. State champion and reigning Forsyth County News Wrestler of the Year Dylan Fairchild was dominant last year, though fellow senior Daba Fofana tore his ACL during football season. Goff points to Reed Walker and Noah Danforth as part of a talented freshman class he expects to contribute right away.

Ethan Rickert
West Forsyth's Ethan Rickert, left, wrestles North Forsyth's Tate Bissell on Saturday during his 8-5 win in the 152-pound championship match. - photo by David Roberts