The Blue Devils entered the championship round with a four-point lead, but they eventually outscored the Mustangs 235-223 after crowning five individual champions and placing 12 wrestlers in the top four of their respective weight classes.
The top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced to next weekend’s sectional at Mill Creek.
Marietta had seven wrestlers in championship matches, compared to eight for Kennesaw Mountain. The Mustangs, however, were only able to crown three champions, which helped Marietta pull away in the end.
“They announced the scores heading into the medal rounds, and (the coaching staff) pulled the guys aside and encouraged them to finish strong,” said Marietta coach Tommy Carthers, who led the Blue Devils to the Area 5AAAAA traditional title in 2011. “We had the lead, but we told the kids to not take that for granted. We had guys who stepped up big and gutted it out with bonus points to help us win.”
Kennesaw Mountain also qualified 12 wrestlers to the sectional meet.
McEachern finished third with 193.5 points and three individual champions. Harrison (126.5) and Hillgrove (112) followed — each crowning a champion — with Campbell (72), South Cobb (58), North Cobb (41) and Pebblebrook (40.5) rounding out the team standings.
Marietta’s Jason Caldwell started off with a pin over Kennesaw Mountain’s Vinnie Rosati in 1:56 at 106 pounds.
Sophomore Taqee Muhammad then became Pebblebrook’s first area champion since Nathan Galloway in 2010, after he beat Kennesaw Mountain’s Donavan Garcia 4-0 at 113.
“It feels good to win,” Muhammad said. “I put it in my mind to go out and handle it, and I did my thing, all thanks to God. I told myself I wanted it. It wasn’t going to be given to me.”
Harrison’s Aaron Powell defeated Hillgrove’s James Roberto via injury default at 120, and McEachern’s Alex Noble won 8-5 over Hillgrove’s Jacob Willis at 126.
Matt Michaud was Kennesaw Mountain’s first champion following a 3-2 victory at 132 against Marietta’s Brad King, who was a champion at 126 last year.
At 138, Hillgrove’s Carlin Powell came from behind, scoring a 1-point third-period escape, and held on to beat defending champion Augusto Paes of Kennesaw Mountain. Powell won his second area title, after claiming last year’s championship at 113.
Kennesaw Mountain’s Henrio Thelemaque defeated McEachern’s Zach Murphy 10-1 at 145 to claim his first area crown, and Marietta’s Alex Ambio topped Kennesaw Mountain’s Brycen Colon 7-5 in overtime for the win at 152.
Ambio, a senior, led 5-3 in the third period, but he was issued two stalling penalties in the final 10 seconds to send the bout into overtime. Ambio scored a takedown with 22 seconds left in the extra frame for his first area championship.
“I got the 10-second stall, but I didn’t think I’d get another one,” Ambio said. “I was surprised and upset with myself for giving up those two points, but I was excited in overtime because the crowd was watching and I felt like I owed it to my team to get the win.”
McEachern’s Tyri Brown, the No. 3 seed at 160, beat two higher seeds for his first area title, including Kennesaw Mountain’s Brandon London 5-2 in the finals.
Marietta senior Jonathan Gates kept his strong season going with an 8-0 victory at 170 over McEachern’s Josh Farara. It was Gates’ fourth individual championship of the year and his first area crown.
“I feel like it’s my year,” Gates said. “I plan on winning. I don’t want to lose. Last year, I didn’t even place at state. This year, I want to win it all.”
Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera scored a 5:19 pin against Harrison’s Jonathan Grimes at 182 to capture his third consecutive area championship, while Marietta’s Isaiah Borne got his first area crown following a 12-4 win over Harrison’s Tyler Buehler at 195.
McEachern senior Christian Wade won his first area championship after two straight runner-up finishes. He beat Marietta’s Brandon Hill 3-2 at 220 after picking up an escape point in sudden-death overtime.
The bout was tied 1-all at the end of regulation and the first overtime session, and 2-all after the second OT.
“I just think about not making mistakes,” Wade said. “I have to be mentally prepared going against him. (Hill) comes at you. You just have to take shots when you can and hope he makes a mistake.”
Marietta’s Jeron Holsey scored an 11-3 win over Campbell’s Dekevion Byrd at 285 for his first area championship.
McEachern qualified 10 wrestlers for sectionals, while Harrison had seven, Hillgrove six, Campbell four, South Cobb three and Pebblebrook two.