Wrestling season began this past week as Monday marked the first official practice day for Georgia High School Association schools.
At Greenbrier High School, wrestling coach Mike Meyer was excited about what he saw on the wrestling mats before the varsity team even showed up. More than 30 middle school and freshman wrestlers were working out with assistant coach Brett Cooper.
"We are excited about that. We've got a middle school and a JV program," Meyer said. "Coach Cooper has taken over that area, and they're going to be going off and wrestling. We're trying to get the younger guys involved and learning before they get to high school."
The existence of wrestlers beyond the typical varsity squad is another example of the growth the Greenbrier wrestling program has seen during the past few years. In a county where Lakeside has dominated in wrestling for several years, Greenbrier has slowly emerged as a competitive opponent.
"Last year we kind of caught up a little bit, but Lakeside had a young team last year and I think that had a lot to do with it," Meyer said. "They're going to be a lot better this year."
Meyer said he scheduled his squad to attend a tournament in Swainsboro, Ga., on Dec. 1-2 before realizing Lakeside's annual Black Cat Tournament was on the same weekend. Unlike past years, the scheduling likely won't allow the two teams to face each other until the area duals in January.
Still, many Wolfpack wrestlers believe this could possibly be the year Greenbrier catches up with the Panthers.
"This could be the best season Greenbrier has ever had," sophomore Shaun Graham said. "It's always a goal to beat Lakeside. It'll be hard, but I think we have the talent this year."
Greenbrier's top two wrestlers, Rick Stahman and Louie Shearer, are back this season as the best senior and junior wrestlers, respectively. Meyer said the team as a whole has also improved, but so has the competition.
"It's going to be a lot tougher this year," he said. "Athletically, I think we're better and stronger than what we were last year, but as much as we're going to get better, our region's going to be that much tougher as well."
In Region 3-AAAA, both Effingham County and Ware County reached the Class AAAA state duals last year. Glynn Academy, now in Region 3-AAAA, competed in Class AAAAA last season and also reached the state duals.
Greenbrier will see its first competition of the 2006-07 season in a home match Nov. 21 against Washington-Wilkes, Swainsboro and Evans.
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