By all accounts, Jason Powers' Jackson County wrestling team pushed around its share of foes on the mat this past season.
When all the points were tallied, the Panthers — who boasted four area champions, two state runners-up and a third place finisher at state — finished no. 6 in Class AAA at the traditional state meet.
It also fared well in dual action, finishing as runners-up in Area 8-AAA and nearly placing at the state duals meet.
“I was pretty pleased,” Powers said. “We had a really good graduating class. We graduated four seniors, and all of them are pretty tough kids.”
Now, the trick is replacing what graduated.
That work is ongoing as Jackson County competed at a tournament in West Hall Friday, hosted a takedown tournament earlier this month and held a joint practice with Commerce this past week.
Jackson County is hitting the weight room and practicing three times a week as well to prepare for next year and what will be a younger Panther lineup.
Jackson County also faces another change: dropping down to Class AA this year.
The move means the Panthers will be assigned to a region that includes nearby foes Jefferson, East Jackson and Banks County. Jefferson, of course, has won 10 straight traditional state titles and nine consecutive state dual crowns.
“It’s not an easy region at all,” Powers said. “It will be a competitive one … We’ve never been in what you could consider an easy region.”
So as the Panthers look toward change in 2010-20011, they’ll be hard at work over the summer months preparing for it all.
“There are a lot of young kids coming into the lineup, a lot of kids who have never been on varsity before,” Powers said. “A couple of freshmen are going to be in the lineup this year. So definitely, summer is an extremely important time for us right now.”