For the first time since 2018, Woodland wrestling didn’t have the best team in Class 5A. But that distinction didn’t leave Bartow County, as Cass rose to the top of the heap.
After finishing second to the Wildcats in the duals and traditional competition during the 2020-21 campaign, the Colonels — a still fairly young group but a year more seasoned — followed through on their sky-high potential with titles in both events.
Woodland didn’t fall far off the pace, placing second in traditional and fourth in duals. Competing in 3A, Adairsville also wound up fourth in duals, while coming in sixth in traditional. Cartersville didn’t qualify for the duals state tournament but did finish eighth in the 5A traditional during Sammy Rosario’s first season at the helm.
All four schools produced at least one individual state champion.
The campaign proved to be the final one for Wildcats head coach Adrian Tramutola and Tigers head coach Ryan Torrence. Tramutola stepped down after having led Woodland to seven state titles and eight runner-up finishes in 13 seasons.
Given the overall level of wrestling talent in the county, all of the local head coaches, regardless of their level of experience, should continue to be able to churn out state-placers and garner top-eight team finishes.
WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
152 — Caleb Henson, Woodland senior
This is the second time in three seasons that Henson has earned this award, stepping aside last year for teammate Caden McCrary to land top honors. Considering Henson is the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 152 pounds, it’s unsurprising that Henson won his third straight individual state championship. Only a loss in the state finals his freshman season kept Henson from an undefeated career with the Wildcats. Despite not being a part of the rare fraternity of four-time state champions, Henson has as strong of a claim as anybody to the title of best wrestler in Bartow County history. The first-ever national champion from Woodland, Henson signed in the fall to compete collegiately at Virginia Tech.
106 — Lee Camp, Cass freshman
In his first high school season, Camp established himself as a key member of the Colonels. In duals matches, he served as a strong pivot when the lineup would turn over, marking the start of Cass’ dominance in the lower weight classes. Camp finished runner-up during the traditional state tournament.
113 — A.J. Piatt, Cass sophomore
Another of the Colonels’ lower-weight hammers, Piatt followed up Camp’s second-place result with one of his own in Macon. During the duals state championship match, Piatt bumped up to 120 pounds, where he earned a pin that kicked off a run of five consecutive victories to fuel Cass’ comeback win.
120 — Cole Hunt, Cass senior
Hunt finished undefeated during his two seasons at Cass, capping his time with the Colonels with a dominant 17-1 technical fall in the finals this year. The University of North Carolina signee won three individual state titles during his high school career, earning a Class 6A championship in 2020 at Dalton.
126 — Jake Crapps, Cass sophomore
Crapps placed third at 113 pounds as a freshman. After suffering just two losses last season, Crapps went unbeaten this year. Crapps is the only underclassmen among the four nationally ranked grapplers on this list, joining teammate Cole Hunt, Cartersville’s Shadre Hurst and Woodland’s Caleb Henson.
132 — Isaac Linley, Adairsville junior
Linley wrapped up a second straight state championship to finish out his Tigers career with back-to-back Class 3A titles. A standout cornerback on the gridiron, Linley moved up this season from the 120-pound weight class, where he shared the 2020-21 all-county honor with fellow state champ Cole Hunt of Cass.
138 — Bryce Kresho, Cass senior
The toughest call came down to Kresho and Woodland senior Randy Buchanan, who both earned all-county recognition last year. While Buchanan produced the better result at state (2nd vs. 3rd), Kresho had a better overall body of work, capturing region and sectional titles in addition to his duals success.
145 — Tyler McKnight, Cass junior
The first of two McKnight brothers to land on this team, Tyler supplied the final six points the Colonels scored in the duals finals. During the traditional portion of the season, he came in runner-up at the state tourney for the second straight year and will hope to cap his Cass career with an individual title next winter.
160 — Cole Cochran, Woodland senior
After winning his first state title as a junior, Cochran repeated as the 160-pound winner, giving the University of Chattanooga signee a third consecutive top-two finish. Cochran produced arguably the most impressive finals result among locals, downing a three-time national champion by a 3-2 decision.
170 — Zach McKnight, Cass junior
Like his brother, Zach wound up second in his 5A bracket and will look to finish atop the podium as a senior. To be fair, he did win region and sectional titles this season. Zach McKnight was one of eight individual region winners for Cass and one of seven sectional champs for the Colonels.
182 — Parker Dunn, Cass junior
One of only two weight classes — the other being 195 pounds — that didn’t include at least one local state finalist, the 182-pound division produced just a single state placer, as Dunn came in fourth in 5A. Dunn claimed the region championship and finished runner-up at the sectional tournament.
195 — Champ Higdon, Woodland junior
Higdon won titles in the region and sectional tournaments before landing a third-place finish in the state traditional. The son of Woodland’s strength and conditioning coordinator (and former head wrestling coach) Charlie Higdon, Champ will be expected to compete for an individual championship as a senior.
220 — Kwadrus Wilson, Woodland junior
Among this year’s all-county selections, Wilson could go down as the most improved. He really came on strong down the stretch, winning a region championship and turning a No. 5 seed from sectionals into a runner-up showing in Macon. He’ll be one of the most intriguing local wrestlers to follow next season.
285 — Shadre Hurst, Cartersville senior
A Tulane University football signee, for his abilities as an offensive lineman, Hurst finally ascended the heavyweight mountain to capture a state title in his senior season. After coming up agonizingly short in the 2021 finals, the nationally ranked Hurst capped an undefeated year with a 6-5 win in the title match.
Grant Adams, Cartersville freshman; Carson Bailey, Woodland senior; Howard Bailey, Adairsville sophomore; Colton Bishop, Woodland senior; Randy Buchanan, Woodland senior; Beau Jernigan, Woodland senior; Jaimon Long, Adairsville sophomore; Eaiden Neal, Cartersville sophomore; Jaxson Owens, Adairsville junior; Jeremiah Rhodes, Woodland senior; Kriecg Roe, Cass freshman; and Giles Turner, Cartersville senior.