The Warriors were tied with Wheeler in Saturday’s Region 5AAAAAA semifinal at Roswell High School, with just one weight class to go.
It came down to 195 pounds, with Cherokee’s Kareem Amor’s against Felipe Silva. And while Amor was in the match until the end, he couldn’t score the points needed to keep up, and Silva ended up with a pin at the third-period buzzer.
After Cherokee beat Walton 51-24 in the consolation round, and then Lassiter by an automatic forfeit since the Warriors had already bested the Trojans in the winners’ bracket, Cherokee stuck around for Wheeler’s championship match against heavily favored Roswell.
With high hopes of the Wildcats pulling off the upset, so the Warriors could wrestle Roswell for true second place, Roswell instead built a significant lead before claiming the region championship with a 52-15 victory.
Even though Cherokee just missed the chance to go to Macon for the state duals, coach Lance Riccio did see a few bright spots in his team’s performances.
“This is the best we’ve done all year as a dual team,” Riccio said. “We tell the kids that all that really matters is January and February. Overall, we’re getting better, and we’re getting better every week.”
Cherokee battled back in its semifinal against Wheeler after falling behind. Back-to-back pins by Brady Sandercock (170) and Hunter Burton (182) gave it a chance to seal the match at 195.
Earlier pins by Blake Walker (120) and Andrew Torrance (126) gave the Warriors a brief lead before they reached the strength of Wheeler’s lineup.
In its consolation win over Walton, Cherokee had a few clutch pins in the upper weights to help the Warriors pull away. Dusty Phyfe (152), Metcalf and Sandercock each needed less than 3 minutes to finish off their opponents.
Woodstock also took a step forward, despite missing out on a fourth-place finish.
Not having won a region dual match in Michael Powell’s previous two seasons as coach, the Wolverines posted wins over Walton and Etowah and had a chance to wrestle Cherokee for third place, but they came up short in their consolation match against Lassiter.
Woodstock took a five-point lead against Lassiter with five matches remaining on Hunter Forbes’ 45-second pin at 152, but the Trojans went on a tear, winning the next four matches to take a command before winning 44-32.
Woodstock’s win over Walton in the winners’ bracket was due to a couple of forfeits in the lower weights and some key pins in the upper weights, including those from Will Stumpf (195) and Wes Pella (285).
The Wolverines ended up falling 52-15 to Roswell in the semifinals. Six of Woodstock’s 14 matches against the Hornets went all 6 minutes, with the tournament host winning five of them.
“This is a good accomplishment because we haven’t won a region dual match in forever,” Powell said. “The fact that we can come here and compete is a good thing.”
Etowah, which had to forfeit three weight classes, fell to Wheeler in the first round and Lassiter in the consolation. Getting pinned at 160, 170 and 182 took the Eagles out of their match against Lassiter.