The top-seeded Greyhounds defeated Whitewater 51-16 in the quarterfinals and Ware County 43-30 in the semifinals to reach the championship. Pope (31-3) will once again face Woodland-Bartow — the team it beat for last year’s Class AAAA crown — for the title.
“We just have to go out there and perform every time we wrestle,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “We need to stay positive, be in the right mindset and be focused. This is the first time we’ve seen (Woodland) 1-on-1 in a dual this year, and we know they’re going to be tough. We’ve finished ahead of them in the two tournaments we’ve both been in, but that doesn’t mean anything now. Our teams are different and better than they were before.”
Pope led Ware County 37-9 before settling on the 13-point victory. Haskin once again used some of his junior varsity wrestlers throughout the match.
“I put some extra guys in, and it got closer than what it should have been,” he said. “We’re going to go straight starters against Woodland and only use JV guys again if we have a big enough lead. It’s good for their growth and good for the future of the program to have the JV guys experience what this is like.”
Preston Markwell (120 pounds), Tyler Haskin (126), Jake Henson (152), Billy Meek (160) and Joey Tabachino (220) each went 2-0 on Friday. Jonny Sexton (145) and Curran McMahon (195) each won in their lone match against Whitewater.
None of the other Cobb County teams — Kennesaw Mountain, Wheeler, Marietta and Allatoona — reached through to today’s matches.
Wheeler, which was making its first state duals appearance, did assure itself of a top-eight finish in Class AAAAAA.
Though the Wildcats lost 45-18 to No. 2 seed Collins Hill in the championship quarterfinals, they beat Lowndes 33-30 in the second round of consolations. Wheeler then lost 42-22 to Brookwood in the consolation third round.
“Lowndes was a pretty good team,” Wheeler coach Matt Brickley said. “We were up 27-6 and they came back. My blood pressure was high at that point. We pulled away at the second to last match to get the win.”
Lowndes closed the gap to 27-24, but Quincey Price scored a 6-point injury default win at 182, and Wheeler only gave up a two decisions over the final two bouts to seal the win.
Wheeler wrestled neck-and-neck with Brookwood until the final three matches. The Wildcats had three first-year wrestlers in those spots and the Broncos ran away from there.
“We’re a top-eight team and had the highest finish among the Class AAAAAA Cobb County schools, so I’ll take that,” Brickley said. “We weren’t event expected to be here, so to be top-eight is great. The guys wrestled well.”
Top wrestlers for Wheeler included Victor Garcia (126), Wysmark Chaves (132), Adanis Basilio (160), JaQuan Adams (152) and K.C. Shaw (285).
“They had a good week,” Brickley said.
Marietta’s trip to the state duals was short-lived after the Region 4AAAAA runner-up lost a close 32-30 decision to Region 2AAAAAA champion Alcovy in the first round of consolations.
Coach Tommy Carthers estimated that the Blue Devils had a four- or five-point lead over the Tigers heading into the final two weight classes. Carthers elected to wrestle Lawton Ward up one weight class and filled Ward’s 170 slot with Dalton Brans.
Unfortunately, the plan backfired as both wrestlers lost and Alcovy advanced.
“I have to take that one,” Carthers said. “That was my fault. The match was tight and we had the lead. If I had really thought about it, I wouldn’t have (moved Ward up to 182).
“(Alcovy’s) 170 guy got either a tech (fall) or a major (decision) and I didn’t think that would happen. Then, the guy at 182 was tougher than I expected and Lawton lost by a decision. Had I wrestled Lawton at his normal weight, I think we would have won.”
Kennesaw Mountain lost its first-round Class AAAAAA consolation match 31-27 to Lowndes.
Allatoona managed to pick up a victory in its first state duals appearance, a 50-18 first-round consolation win over Northside-Warner Robins. The Buccaneers lost their next bout 36-30 to Loganville.