Rivera, a rising junior at Kennesaw Mountain, came from behind to pin Ohio’s Jackson Harris for the 182-pound cadet freestyle title.
Rivera joins former Pope standout Brooks Climmons, a cadet Greco-Roman winner in 2010, as Cobb County’s second Fargo national champion.
Harris used a series of rolls to build a 9-0 lead, leaving him one point shy of a technical fall victory. Rivera, however, caught on to Harris’ strategy and got back to his feet before finding himself in the same position later in the match.
Harris once again went for the roll and the victory, but Rivera countered with an arm-trap and rolled Harris several times to stave off the loss. Rivera’s maneuvers pulled him to within 9-8, and he scored two more points later on to take a 10-9 first-period advantage.
With the wrestlers on their feet and their arms locked, Harris attempted to flip Rivera to get the upper hand, but Rivera countered again, falling on top of Harris before positioning him for a pin in 2 minutes, 39 seconds.
“I was trying to do my best to stop his offense, just observing what he could do,” said Rivera, who also finished as a cadet Greco-Roman national runner-up in Fargo. “After I saw his moves, I was able to counter with the trap-arm, and points kept building off that.
“It was 9-8, and then the Ohio coaches challenged the score — that I was down — and it went to jury and they lost and then it was tied 9-9. Later on, I was able to pin him.
“It’s hard to explain how I felt after the win. It didn’t really hit me until after the match with my teammates and coaches. They were so excited. I was close to crying myself, but I held it in.”
Rivera already knows about winning championships. He won the Class AAAAA 170-pound state title as a freshman, then won a Class AAAAAA title at 182 this past season.
“It’s really the same feeling winning state and winning nationals,” Rivera said. “I’d say the first time I won state is most like winning nationals for the first time. It’s just a great feeling and sense of accomplishment, and to get a pin for the championship was nice, too, because the team went crazy.”
Rivera’s pin in the finals was reminiscent of his dominance throughout the bracket. He went 8-0, scoring six technical falls and two pins. He outscored his opponents 64-2 in the technical falls.
“Honestly, it is a little bit surprising to have the scores that I did,” Rivera said. “In freestyle, it’s a lot easier to score points, and they can rack up quickly, so I didn’t expect to win the way I did.”
Rivera’s All-America honors were his fourth in two seasons with the Team Georgia program.
Adcock and Humphreys were named All-Americans in their first seasons with Team Georgia.
Adcock, an offseason transfer to Pope, placed sixth at 138 pounds. Humphreys, who wrestles for Walton, collected his first All-America nod after placing eighth at heavyweight.
Team Georgia’s junior freestyle All-Americans included Tyler Askey (second, 170 pounds) and Chance McClure (seventh, 195). McClure, who won the Greco-Roman title, joined Rivera and Adcock as double All-Americans, ensuring Team Georgia of at least one double All-American for the seventh straight season.
Other Team Georgia members included rising seniors Tyler Haskin (Pope) and Jacob Murphy (Walton) and recent Pope graduate Jake Henson. Haskin went 0-2 as a 132-pound freestyle junior, Murphy was 1-2 at 138 and Henson finished 2-2 at 152.
Team Georgia set several records at Fargo, combining for two national champions, eight finalists and 16 All-Americans.
“I’m really excited and proud of everyone,” said Team Georgia and Life University wrestling coach Mike Miller. “The hard work put in by the wrestlers year in and year out really paid off. I’m proud of the coaches, too. Their involvement and support with the team is huge and really helps these kids. It’s great to see how everyone keeps coming back to help.”