The 19th annual Columbus city wrestling championships will be held beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday at Columbus High.
Fifteen area teams will compete at the event, including Columbus, Brookstone, Northside, Pacelli, Shaw, Smiths Station, Chattahoochee County, Hardaway, Jordan, Carver, Russell County, Spencer, Kendrick, Harris County and Central.
Of those, Smiths Station is considered the odds-on favorite, despite falling short of the city crown a year ago.
Last year, Harris County surprised with its first city championship in school history, placing 11 wrestlers and taking home three individual titles.
Smiths Station put eight wrestlers in the finals last year, but couldnt finish the job, something coach Tommy Sanders said will be the main focus for his team this year.
Were always striving to win it, he said. The biggest thing is finishing the tournament. Last year, we sat around and thought we had it in the bag. Obviously we didnt. We lost by 1.5 points. If were lucky enough to get that many in the finals again, were going to have to finish it.
The Panthers are led by Max Kauffman (106), Jacobb Goodwin (113), Logan Beyer (120), Josh Jamieson (126), Marcus Ruffin (132), Cody Pullen (145), Jelani Gooden (152) and Coleman Rose (182). Rose has finished second in the tournament for the past two years.
Central and Spencer were also named by a few coaches as contenders. Sanders said he doesnt know as much about the individuals on Spencers team, but he knows Central and the Red Devils have been the stiffest competition his team has faced all year.
Northside is expected to contend in a couple weight classes with K.B. Harris (132) and Noah Forehand (160).
Hardaway coach Kevin Noviello named Xavier Woods and Chris Masenburge off of his team as names to watch as well.
Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.