By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH, Ga. — While the high school football is turning the corner into the all-important region play highway, wrestling is getting ready to open the book for the 2015-16 season.
And one defending state champion from the Southern Crescent area is prepping for a huge preseason meet.
Union Grove (McDonough) sophomore Justin Ruffin is slated to face Chris Diaz of Lawrenceville’s Archer High on October 18 at the Who’s #1 All-Star Meet at Buford High.
Ruffin will battle Diaz — a senior regarded as the No. 11 wrestler in the country — at 138 pounds. Diaz’s Archer team is all nationally ranked at No. 8, and Diaz recently signed a wrestling scholarship to North Carolina State.
Ruffin burst on the state’s wrestling scene last year, winning the Class AAAAA championship at 132 pounds as a freshman. He was the first freshman in Union Grove history to win a state wrestling crown, and is looking to become one of just a handful of Georgia high school wrestlers to win four straight state titles.
He didn’t slow down during the offseason, either. In the 145 pound bracket, Ruffin won the Georgia Super 32 qualifier held at Union Grove back on September 5 — a tournament where more than 400 wrestlers from eight states competed.
He also competed in the World Team qualifier in Akron, OH this past summer, going 3-2. He won the Cadet 145-pound weight class in the Freestyle at the Southeast regionals and took home gold at the Georgia Games in both freestyle and greco.
After spending time training at The Compound in McDonough, Ruffin has beefed up to a place where he’ll look to go up two weight classes for the soon-coming season.