Pope storms out in front, cruises its way to second-straight state championship
by Carlton D. White
cwhite@mdjonline.com
January 13, 2013 01:11 AM | 2672 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At one point of Saturday’s Class AAAAA final, Pope trailed 10-6. But Preston Markwell, top, got a pin at 120 pounds, setting the Greyhounds on a commanding run that gave them the win over Woodland-Bartow and assured them of a second straight state duals crown.
<BR>Staff file photo
At one point of Saturday’s Class AAAAA final, Pope trailed 10-6. But Preston Markwell, top, got a pin at 120 pounds, setting the Greyhounds on a commanding run that gave them the win over Woodland-Bartow and assured them of a second straight state duals crown.
Staff file photo
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Much like it did in winning its first dual wrestling state championship a year ago, Pope started out slowly against Woodland-Bartow.

But again, like 2012, the Greyhounds pulled ahead, and they won 50-14 to claim the Class AAAAA title Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.

Nationally ranked Pope — 34th by InterMat and 28th by Amateur Wrestling News — fell behind 10-6 after the first three bouts, but it won the next nine contests to stake an insurmountable 45-10 lead. Last year, the Greyhounds trailed Woodland 6-3 after the first two matches of the Class AAAA final, then won 10 straight to take a 51-6 advantage with two bouts left.

This victory gave Pope (32-3) a second-straight state duals title, and its fourth consecutive state crown overall after winning consecutive traditional championships in 2011 and 2012.

“The first championship is always the best, but this one is pretty sweet, too,” said coach Jim Haskin, who is in his 18th season at Pope. “The kids were really excited for this match. Our enthusiasm was awesome in the tunnel before we came out, and the guys were jumping up and down. That was good to see.

“We had great fan support from the parents, the administration, the community, and I can’t thank everybody enough. We beat a tough, well-coached team (Saturday). It’s just a great feeling.”

Taylor Howard started things off for Pope at 285 pounds with a pin in 1 minute, 50 seconds. The Greyhounds then fell behind 10-6 after Josh Tazzetta (106) and Sam Skinner (112) each lost their matches by technical fall.

Then, the rout was on.

Preston Markwell scored a pin in 1:15 at 120, and Tyler Haskin followed with a pin in 1:44 at 126 that put the Greyhounds on top 18-10.

T.J. Collins (132), Davis Burson (138), Jonny Sexton (145) and Jake Henson (152) then combined to score 12 points on decisions for Pope as it went ahead 30-10. Collins won 7-4, Burson 7-1, Sexton 9-4 and Henson 7-2.

Billy Meek collected a pin in 3:42 at 160 pounds. Zeke Weber scored a 4-2 decision at 170, and Trevor Stevens’ 46-second pin at 182 capped the rally, giving the Greyhounds a 45-10 advantage.

“Tyler’s pin, I think, changed everybody,” Haskin said. “Then, we started rolling and didn’t lose again until 195. We won close and we won big. The guys just took over.”

Curran McMahon (195) lost 13-3 as Woodland cut its deficit to 45-14, but Joey Tabachino’s 58-second pin at 220 stretched Pope’s lead out to 51-14. Pope had a team point deduction earlier in the contest, resulting in the 50-14 final.

“I think (they) were smelling blood,” Haskin said. “They were like sharks in the water, and they wrestled like it.

“We knew Woodland had three tough kids, and those kids won their matches. Even though our guys lost those matches, they didn’t give up a pin. That’s part of the approach we have and those guys lived up to that. The rest of the guys took care of business.”
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