The Greyhounds advanced seven wrestlers into the Class AAAAA semifinals and saw six — Tyler Haskin, Jake Henson, Billy Meek, Brooks Climmons, Trevor Stevens, and Joey Tabachino — move on into the finals.
Also in the Class AAAAA finals is Sprayberry’s Thomas Cook, while Walton’s Jacob Murphy, Marietta’s Lawton Ward and Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera are in the Class AAAAAA finals.
It is the first trip to the finals for Haskin, Stevens, Tabachino, Cook, Murphy and Ward. Meek was a runner-up last season, while Henson and Rivera are each going for their second straight titles. Climmons won a state championship in 2011.
“I’m as happy as I can be,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “We had seven semifinalists, and six of them will be wrestling for state championships (today). The guys have done an outstanding job at this tournament. We’re guaranteed to have 10 state-placers, which is something I don’t think we’ve ever done before.
“The guys have taken some hits, but we’ve won more than we’ve lost, so I’m just so proud of them. Everybody’s just doing their thing.”
The elder Haskin grew teary-eyed after watching his son, Tyler, earn a 3-2 victory over Northside-Columbus’ Kalvin Harris at 126 pounds. Tyler Haskin took a one-point lead with 1 minute, 45 seconds left and held on for the victory.
Henson cruised to a 16-4 triumph against Whitewater’s Francisco Obregon at 152, while Meek (160 pounds), Climmons (182) and Stevens (195) also saw lopsided victories. Tabachino won 5-0 over Paulding County’s Thomas Seih at 220 pounds.
Henson will be facing a familiar foe in his 152 pound final. Cook upset top-seeded Stephenson wrestler Stephen Wylie 5-0 to reach the championship, guaranteeing that Cobb County will have at least one state champion.
The two have had classic battles over the past two years. They’ve faced each other twice this season, with Henson taking both victories at the Cobb County Invitational and Region 5AAAAA tournament.
“This is the third time Thomas and Jake have faced each other in three weeks, I think,” Sprayberry coach Gary DeHaven said. “We’ve closed the gap each time. The key is to not give away points. Thomas is confident and, hopefully, the third time’s the charm.”
Pope, which is aiming for its third consecutive traditional state championship, has 176 team points and leads the Class AAAAA field by a considerable margin. Ware County is second with 86, followed by Creekview (67), Whitewater (65) and Ola (63).
Allatoona is tied for 15th with 33 points, while Sprayberry is 28th with 19 points.
Murphy and Ward had the most exciting matches among Cobb’s Class AAAAAA finalists.
Murphy trailed Rockdale County’s Ulises Ponce 4-2 at the end of the second period in their match at 132 pounds. He then scored an escape 30 seconds into the third period to pull to within one, and scored a takedown with 5 seconds left for the 5-4 victory.
Ward was dominating at 170, with a 9-3 lead in the third period, before Archer’s Elliot Lee mounted a comeback. Ward led 11-9 with 25 seconds remaining, but was called twice for stalling over the final 15 seconds, which sent the contest into overtime tied 11-all.
Ward, however, scored the victory in the extra session with a lateral throw — using Lee’s own momentum against him — to take a 13-11 win.
Rivera dominated his match at 182 pounds, posting a 19-3 victory.
Knocked out in the Class AAAAAA semifinals were Harrison’s Anthony Fiacco (152) and Patrick Mannella (160), along with Hillgrove’s Peyton Hewitt (220). Fiacco injured his left shoulder late in the third period of his match and was seen in a sling later in the evening.
Archer leads the Class AAAAAA standings with 203 points. Camden County and Collins Hill (90.5) were tied for second, while Etowah (56) and Cherokee (49) rounded out the top five.
Walker brothers William and Jason Schubert nearly reached the finals in their Class A matches.
William fell to Holy Innocents’ Brendan Quigley at 132 pounds, while Jason dropped a 3-2 decision to Treutlen’s Tyler Heath at 138. The match was tied 2-all in the third period, when Heath earned an escape point and held on for the win.
Gordon Lee is first in Class A with 134.5 points. Holy Innocents’ (124) is second and Commerce (102) third. Walker is 12th with 21.5 points.