The Woodland wrestling program is hurtling towards a fourth consecutive state championship, and there doesn’t seem to be anything capable of slowing down the Wildcats.
Saturday, Woodland dominated the Region 7-AAAAA traditional tournament, piling up 270.5 points to outdistance second-place and host Cass by nearly 125 points. Even more impressively, the Wildcats managed to have all 14 of their grapplers finish third or higher, easily qualifying each of them for next week’s sectionals.
The Colonels, meanwhile, will send nine wrestlers, including four individual champions, to sectionals at Alexander, where Woodland and Cass will look to qualify as many athletes as possible for the state traditional.
Bartow County’s other two wrestling programs also finished runner-up in their respective tournaments Saturday. Cartersville qualified 13 in finishing a close second to Central, Carroll (215-208.5) at LaGrange. Adairsville racked up 194 points but wasn’t particularly close to beating Sonoraville, which compiled just shy of 300. Overall, the Tigers qualified 11 grapplers during the region tournament at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe.
Between the four schools, 47 wrestlers punched their ticket to the next round of qualifying for state. That number is actually up from 45 last year, when Woodland actually sent only a dozen of its athletes to sectionals.
As impressive as the Wildcats have been over the past two seasons in winning a pair of duals championships and last year’s traditional title, the program has maybe never been as good as it is right now.
Saturday showcased that once again with six champions, six runners-up and two third-place finishers. No other team had more than seven individuals place in the top-three.
The winners for Woodland were Colton Bishop (126 pounds), Caleb Jones (132), Caden McCrary (138), Caleb Henson (145), Cole Cochran (160) and Jaxon Smith (170). As for the half-dozen second-place finishers, Carson Bailey (113), Easton Bishop (120) and Bryce Collum (152) each lost to freshman Cass competitors ? Montgomery Tompkins, Eli Doolittle and Zach McKnight, respectively.
Woodland’s other three runners-up came at the three heaviest weight classes, 195 (Demarcus Williams), 220 (Bryce Shedd) and 285 (Beau Jernigan). The third-place finishers were Asher Jernigan (106) and Jeremiah Rhodes (182).
Aside from the trio of freshmen, sophomore Bryce Kresho gave Cass its fourth champion of the day at 120 pounds. The Colonels also had three individuals finish second in Tyler McKnight (126), Cam Hill (160) and Reed Davis (182). Cass didn’t have anybody place third but did have a pair ? Adan Urizar (145) and Noah Hoffmeier (220) ? wind up fourth, which still secured qualification.
Down in LaGrange, Cartersville didn’t have any individuals finish second. That’s because every time the Canes had somebody reach the finals, they won. All six times.
Tyler Earick (113 pounds) and Jabril Williams (160) repeated as region champs. They were joined by Giles Turner (120), Rashun Hurst (195), Collin Buffaloe (220) and Shadre Hurst (285) who will all take No. 1 seeds into sectionals at Perry.
Cartersville also won six of its seven third-place bouts. Eoin Neal (1206), Joshua Alvarez (132), Brady Jenkins (145), Lyle Forristall (152), Rashar Locklear (170) and Rashad Hurst (182) each won their final match. The lone fourth-place qualifier for the Canes was Caiden Tanner at 106 pounds.
The entire day was a huge improvement for Cartersville over last season, when the team had just two champions and finished exactly 100 points behind first-place Central.
For the second consecutive year, Adairsville was second in its region, comfortably between Sonoraville and Calhoun. The Tigers had three champions in Angel Banda (113 pounds), James Standridge (132) and Dalton Cornett (160).
Austin Dudley and James Jolly finished second at 126 and 195, respectively. Three Adairsville individuals placed third, as Issac Linley (120), Adam Martin (138) and Brendan Luginbuhl (152) each bounced back to close out the day with a win.
Another group of three ? Tommy Faulk (145), Owen Henry (170) and Evan Henry (182) ? all wound up fourth overall in their respective divisions.
In fact, the Tigers would have had three guys apiece finish first, second, third and fourth had it not been for Jaxson Owens suffering a disqualification during the 106-pound finals. Due to the ejection, Owens won’t be able to compete in next week’s sectionals at South Forsyth.