RANDY PARKER/THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2023 2:47 pm
BY SCOTT POWER
Cass and Woodland know who they have to take down after the GHSA wrestling brackets for the Elite Eight came out Monday afternoon.
The Colonels, the No. 1 team from Region 7-5A, will face Eastside, the No. 3 team from Region 8-5A. Cass dominated both Northgate 59-24 and Ware County 55-24 on Saturday, Jan. 14, to reach the Elite 8, which will be held on Saturday, Jan. 21, at Jones County High School.
Eastside upset Arabia Mountain, the No. 2 seed in Region 4, and then defeated Villa Rica, the No. 1 team in Region 5, 40-37, to earn the right to face Cass.
Cass is defending its 2022 duals state championship while Woodland will seek a sixth duals state title since 2003.
Cass Coach DL Koontz said his team expected to make it this far, especially after winning the state duals title last year.
“The goal was as the returning state champs was to be repeat,” Koontz said. “Last year we were the first the team to win the duals and traditional. We had won them before, but never did both same year. If we repeat, we will be the first team in school history to repeat as dual champions. It would be a great way to send our seniors out.”
But repeating, he said, won’t be an easy feat, noting that he believes class 5A is the toughest division in the state. While there are other great teams in other divisions, he believes 5A has the most depth. That difficult road starts with Eastside.
“I know their coach and he will have them ready to go,” Koontz said. “I don’t underestimate anybody in the state tournament. We know they are a great team. I’m confident our guys will be ready to go on Saturday.”
Woodland, the No. 2 team from Region 7, will face Cambridge, the No. 1 team from Region 6, also at Jones County High School on Saturday.
Woodland defeated Northside, the No. 3 team in Region 3, 59-18. The Wildcats then edged past Greenbrier, the No. 1 team in Region 1, 36-27. Ola whipped Banneker, the No. 4 team from Region 5, and then defeated Flowery Branch, the No. 2 team from Region 8, 70-9.
As with Cass, Woodland Coach Brett Shedd getting to the Elite 8 is something that is counted on every season.
“It’s expected,” Shedd said. “It’s always expected for our program, and I don’t think that expectation is ever going to change. We were ecstatic to make it, especially with all the rankings coming out saying that Greenbrier is going to make it over us.”
Woodland, who was scheduled to face Ola, now faces Cambridge after a bracket change.
“I’m confident going into that match, but obviously not overconfident,” Shedd said. “I know it will be a tough dual, but I always have confidence in my wrestlers.”
The duals is a double elimination tournament, though once you lose you can’t come out of the losers bracket to win the tournament with third place the highest a once-beaten team can go.
The state quarterfinals will begin on all four mats at 10 a.m. with semifinals and finals — along with consolation matches — to follow.
According to the bracket released by the GHSA, the winner of Cass-Eastside will face the winner of Harris County-Ola. The winner of Woodland-Cambridge will face the winner of Locust Grove-Jefferson.