Not all was lost for Team Georgia, however, as Harris County’s Tyler Denova was an All-American after placing fifth in the cadet division at 189 pounds.
Denova won four of his first five matches to reach the championship rounds. His only loss in regulation was to Mitch Sliga of Indiana. Denova received a bye after losing to Matthew Hopkins of Washington in their first round championship match.
Another loss to Sliga moved Denova into the fifth-place match where he pinned Montana’s Jake Leinwand in 33 seconds.
“Tyler’s an all-around great kid who works hard in the room,” Team Georgia board member Danny Lutz said. “He’s relentless on the mat and keeps attacking. He absolutely deserved All-American, which I know is a big thrill for his brother.”
Tyler’s brother, Joey, is a former Team Georgia wrestler who was a Greco-Roman junior All-American last year. Joey currently trains at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Michigan and is helping coach Team Georgia at nationals this week.
“Tyler has an opportunity now to be a double All-American,” Lutz said. “It could be a big week for him if things go right.”
Pope standout Brooks Climmons was unable to duplicate his success from a year ago, when he earned Greco-Roman cadet All-America
honors. Wrestling at 171 pounds in the junior classification this season, Climmons, who last winter captured the Class AAAA state championship at 160 pounds, fell one victory shy of reaching the championship rounds.
Climmons won his first five matches and appeared to be on his way to the next round before dropping close matches to Florida’s Kyle Koziel and Oklahoma’s Kyle Crutchmer.
“Brooks was a state champion this year and a Greco-Roman All-American last year, but he didn’t make it this year,” Lutz said. “That’s how tough it is, especially when you move up from cadet to juniors. Brooks hung in there and wrestled tough, but that kid from Oklahoma was way too big. He made Brooks look small, and Brooks is a big kid.”
Cobb County residents Jason Grimes and Lee Davis, who both attend Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs, also fared well at the meet.
Grimes, who placed third at 145 pounds as a cadet to earn an All-America nod last year, finished 2-2 in the junior division this time around. He dropped his first match in a hard-fought contest, but rallied for two wins before losing his next contest.
Davis got off to a strong start with three straight junior-division victories at 171 pounds, but he lost his next two and failed to reach the championship rounds.
“All of these guys wrestled well, and they represented their county and their schools well,” Lutz said.
Team Georgia picked up four points in the cadet-division standings because Denova was named an All-American. The squad tied for 43rd, well behind champion Pensylvania.
Now Team Georgia will focus its attention on the cadet and junior freestyle national championship, which begins today and continues through Saturday.
“Brooks Climmons, Jeremiah (Lutz), and Jason Grimes have really good chances at being all-Americans,” Lutz said. “Everyone is wrestling tough, but, just because you’re a state champion, doesn’t mean you’re going to win here.”