Pope still the team to beat at county
by Carlton D. White
January 18, 2013 12:01 AM | 2991 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Davis Burson, a returning champion from last season, is one of six No. 1 seeds that will lead Pope into the Cobb County Invitational today at Sprayberry.
<BR>Staff file photo
Davis Burson, a returning champion from last season, is one of six No. 1 seeds that will lead Pope into the Cobb County Invitational today at Sprayberry.
Staff file photo
MARIETTA — Winner of five consecutive Cobb County Invitational championships, Pope is once again the favorite as the 42nd annual event kicks off today at Sprayberry.

One of Cobb County’s oldest high school championships, the invitational is one of the most prestigious titles in the state and has long been a stepping stone for wrestlers toward claiming a coveted state traditional title.

Eighteen of the county’s 21 high schools will be in attendance this weekend, making for crowded brackets and competitive weight classes. Whitefield Academy and Walker will be competing in other tournaments, while Mount Paran Christian is off.

“Every year, there’s great competition at this tournament, and I’m sure this year won’t be any different,” said Sprayberry coach Gary DeHaven, who will be retiring at the end of the year. “These kids have been working hard all year long for tournaments like this, so we should see some exciting matches.”

Pope, which recently won the Region 7AAAAA and Class AAAAA state duals titles,

have six No. 1 and six No. 2 seeds among their 14 seeded wrestlers.

Davis Burson (138 pounds) and two-time county champion Jake Henson (152) will be defending their titles from a year ago. The Greyhounds’ other No. 1 seeds are Sam Skinner (113), Billy Meek (160), Joey Tabachino (220) and Taylor Howard (285).

“We have guys at some good spots and everybody is right where they need to be,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “The guys really want to send the seniors out with another county championship, and our young guys want it real bad, too. There are some tough brackets, so we expect some of these matches to be really close.”

Joining Burson and Henson as returning county champions are Hillgrove’s Cameron Westerman, Lassiter’s Paul Pelletier and Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera. Pelletier (120) is also looking to earn his third straight county crown, Westerman is No. 1 at 126 pounds and Rivera tops 182.

Joining Rivera as No. 1 seeds for Kennesaw Mountain are Will Clavecilla (106) and Rene Gutierrez (170).

Harrison, Marietta and Walton each have one No. 1 seed in Dylan Porter (195), Trager Kviten (145) and Jacob Murphy (132), respectively.

Wheeler has the next highest number of seeded wrestlers with 10. Hillgrove and Allatoona each have nine, while Kennesaw Mountain has seven. McEachern and Lassiter are tied with six, followed by Campbell (5), Harrison (5), Marietta (4), Kell (3), South Cobb (2), Walton (2), Sprayberry (1) and Osborne (1). North Cobb, North Cobb Christian and Pebblebrook did not have any seeded wrestlers.

Weight classes that could see the closest competition include Pelletier and Pope’s Preston Markwell at 120 pounds, Murphy and Campbell’s Jamez Taylor at 132, Burson and Wheeler’s Aaron McGilvery at 138, Campbell’s Charles Robinson and Meek at 160 and Rivera and Pope’s Trevor Stevens at 182.

The 152-pound weight class will include Henson, Harrison’s Anthony Fiacco and Sprayberry’s Thomas Cook — all of whom are returning state-placers.

“This tournament always has some of the toughest talent in state going head-to-head,” Haskin said. “This will be fun to watch and very competitive from start to finish.”

Competition will begin at 5:30 p.m. today with two preliminary championship rounds. Wrestlebacks start at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, with the championship semifinals slated for 11 a.m. The remaining consolation matches will take place early Saturday afternoon with the championship finals for first, third and fifth place set for 4 p.m.
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