Pope dominated the Class AAAAA field with 10 placers, including five champions. The Greyhounds scored 215.5 points to easily outdistance Ware County (99).
“Unprecedented, what we did. I’m overwhelmed,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “Five state champions, a runner-up, 10 placers — what this team has accomplished is incredible. They got that first national ranking in school history, and they dominated at state with all of these placers. This has to be the best team we’ve had.
“Our 2009-10 team was pretty good, too, so, compared to them, I’m sure I’ll get a lot of calls from those boys. But it speaks for itself. Three straight traditional championships and two in a row in duals is a great run. I’m losing five seniors, so we’re going to have to reload and get the ball rolling again next year.”
Pope’s five champions were Joey Tabachino (220 pounds), Trevor Stevens (195), Brooks Climmons (182), Billy Meek (160) and Jake Henson (152). It was the first final for Tabachino and Stevens, while Meek was a runner-up a season ago. It was Henson’s third straight final and second straight championship, while Climmons won a state title in 2011.
Tabachino took a 5-0 first-period lead and held on for a 5-4 victory over Apalachee’s Matthew Moore. Tabachino led 5-1 at the end of the second, but gave up an early third-period escape and a late takedown with 30 seconds left for the final margin.
After getting his hand raised, Tabachino went and lay on his back at the edge of the mat, exhausted from his match.
Stevens wasn’t exhausted when his match ended, but he did find himself in a battle against Starr’s Mill’s Luke Runyan before posting a 4-3 win. Stevens never trailed, and held a 4-2 advantage at the end of the second period.
Climmons, the top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 182, dominated in taking a 24-9 technical fall win over Creekview’s Joseph Sorrentino, while Meek pulled away for a 16-6 triumph against Apalachee’s Kevin Bindschusz.
Henson made it 3-0 on the season against Sprayberry’s Thomas Cook.
After a scoreless first period, Henson collected two stall points and an escape in the third. Cook drew to within 3-1 with 32 seconds left, but he let his emotions get the best of him late as was penalized for misconduct. Henson eventually won 8-1.
Allatoona (38) finished 18th in Class AAAAA, while Sprayberry (19) was 30th and Kell (9) 36th.
In Class AAAAAA, Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera (182) won his second state championship, while Marietta’s Lawton Ward (170) and Walton’s Jacob Murphy (132) took home titles in their first finals appearances.
Rivera, who is 15th nationally at 182, won via pin over Brunswick’s D.J. Newberry in 3:17.
“After winning last year, I knew coming in this year I’d have a big target on my back,” Rivera said. “I had to prove all over again that I’m a state champ.
“It was harder this year to win than last year because, as you get older, people want to come after you more and you get their best effort because they want to be the one that beat you. I couldn’t let that happen (Saturday).”
Ward gradually pulled away in his match against Cherokee’s Brady Sandercock and won 7-4. He led 4-3 at the end of the second period, but earned an escape early in the third and a takedown with 1:20 remaining for a four-point margin.
When the match was over, Ward, who became Marietta’s first state champion since Ralph Hudgins won in 1968, raised his arms in triumph, pointed to the Blue Devil fans and jumped into the arms of coach Tommy Carthers.
“This was for (my coach). It was for my team, my family and all of Marietta,” Ward said. “I get the medal, but it should go to everyone that’s supported me.
“Everyone kept me focused on this tournament. I felt the support from the Marietta fans and I got encouraging texts all day from people. I’m just proud and happy for their support.”
One of more exciting matches came from Murphy, who rallied from a 5-0 third-period deficit to post a 6-5 victory over Archer’s Chris Diaz.
Murphy earned an escape point with 1:05 left in the match and scored a stalling point with 28 seconds remaining to pull to within 5-2. Suddenly, he found an opening in the final 8 seconds, scoring a 2-point takedown cradle and a 2-point near-fall to put him over the top by one.
“I had a bad match,” Murphy said. “I didn’t wrestle well, but I pulled it out in the end. I felt like (Diaz) was getting tired, and I knew I wasn’t getting tired. This win feels great. You have to wrestle the whole 6 minutes.”
Archer scored 250 points to beat Collins Hill (118.5) and Camden County (117.5) for the Class AAAAAA crown, completing a sweep of the dual and traditional state titles.
Kennesaw Mountain (45.5) was 10th, while Marietta (31) was 16th. Walton (24.5) tied for 21st, Hillgrove (20) tied for 25th, Harrison (19.5) was 28th, Wheeler (15) and McEachern each (15) tied for 32nd, and Lassiter (14) tied for 35th. Campbell (6), South Cobb (4) and North Cobb (1) also scored.
Walker brothers William and Jason Schubert placed fourth at 132 and 138 pounds, respectively, in Class A. The Wolverines (45.5) were ninth overall, while Gordon Lee (187) defeated Holy Innocents’ (171) for the team title.