The host Grizzlies are the defending champions of the 14-team event, which also features three of the county’s other five high schools. It’s the seventh time Creekview has hosted the event, typically on the second weekend in December.
The Grizzlies’ coaching staff is optimistic as always about their chances.
“We just got through with our seeding meeting and got some pretty high seeds,” assistant coach John Judkins said. “That never means too much, but I think it kind of shows that we have some pretty high expectations for this weekend.”
Judkins said that if there is any disappointment at this point, it’s in the number of teams that will be in attendance. Woodstock withdrew last month, while a couple other teams that are regular staples did not enter after experiencing coaching changes during the offseason.
Last year, the invitational featured 17 teams.
“We don’t know if there are going to be as many good teams as there has been in the past, but we still have got some really tough teams, and it will be a good test for us,” Judkins said. “When you send out 25 invitations, and we are now down to 14 teams, it’s disappointing. We try our best to get some of the top teams. We wish we had more quality. There are some weight classes with just six or seven kids. That’s about 10 less than what we want. We are happy to have the ones we’ve got, but we just wish there were more teams.”
In addition to the other county teams — Cherokee, Creekview, River Ridge and Sequoyah — Cambridge, Chestatee, Fellowship Christian, Gainesville, Lithia Springs, North Paulding, Pickens, St. Francis, Walker and West Hall will also participate this year.
Etowah will not be at Creekview, instead scheduled to compete in the Parlay Invitational at Allatoona. Woodstock will be at the Cleveland Duals in Tennessee.
Judkins said that some teams are sending both varsity and junior varsity wrestlers, while others are just sending their varsity athletes.
No. 1 seeds from Creekview include Joseph Sorrentino, the defending state runner-up at 182 pounds, and freshman Bryce Davis (106).
Among the teams expected to challenge Creekview at the top are Cambridge, Chestatee and West Hall. Judkins added that St. Francis and Walker have talented wrestlers in several classes, despite being smaller programs.
“St. Francis and Walker might not be the toughest top to bottom, but they have some real tough individuals that they bring,” he said. “Cambridge has a tough team with some top seeds that will be a tough one to overcome.”
Creekview wrestled Region 7AAAAA rival Cambridge earlier this year in a dual match.
“We wrestled them over Thanksgiving break, but they had some injuries and some people out of town for the holiday,” Judkins said. “We beat them, and beat them pretty good, but it was one of those where you know that the score didn’t mean that we were 30 points better. It will be a much tougher task getting past them this weekend now that they have everybody back.”
The invitational will begin today at 5 p.m. before continuing Saturday at 8:30 a.m. with consolation rounds. The championship semifinals will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the finals scheduled for 4:30-6 p.m.