For the second straight season, the Grizzlies claimed runner-up honors behind Pope at the Area 7AAAAA duals, losing 45-25 in Friday’s championship match at the Hound Pound.
Second-seeded Creekview couldn’t overcome a strong Pope program that won its seventh consecutive area dual title.
The top two teams from each area dual meet qualify for the state championships, so despite the setback, the Grizzlies were still able to earn their second straight trip — and third overall — to the state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Macon Centreplex.
“We’re happy to be going (to state),” Creekview coach Wyatt Wilkie said. “Every week, it’s back to the drawing board on Monday to make the corrections for next week. I’m happy we made it, but not too happy about the performance in the finals against a tough Pope team.”
The Greyhounds entered the tournament as the top seed, and they wrestled like it. Pope scored pins in six of the first nine bouts, en route to an insurmountable 42-4 lead with five weight classes remaining.
Grant Slater’s 10-2 major decision over Pope’s Walker Yarbrough at 120 pounds left the Grizzlies trailing 6-4, but Sam Skinner’s 1-0 triumph over Ryan Camp at 126 ignited a string of seven straight victories for the Greyhounds that was capped by Zeke Weber’s 3-1 match-clinching win over Hunter Smith at 170.
“Pope won big and we won small,” Wilkie said. “That wins dual meets, and we didn’t win big, but they did. They were ready and we were not. They are a tough team, and congratulations to them.”
Joseph Sorrentino’s 34-second pin over Richard Smith at 182 halted Pope’s run, and Logan Ridings added a decision against Lucas O’Reilly to trim Creekview’s deficit to 42-13.
Sean Hayden scored two late points in a win over Cristian Saragusa at 220 that extended the Greyhounds’ advantage to 45-13.
Heavyweight Brock Tupman and 106-pounder Bryce Davis each netted pins to close out the match for the Grizzlies.
Creekview’s path to the final started well with a 71-3 quarterfinal win over Riverwood. The Grizzlies tied third-seeded Cambridge 34-34 in the semifinals, but they advanced to the championship based on the eighth tiebreaking criteria — total number of first points scored in each match — which was 15-11.
“Cambridge is tough and they’ve been getting tougher every year,” Wilkie said. “It goes down to criteria, and that last match was a hard-fought win.”
Davis and Camp earned victories as Cambridge built a 25-9 lead, and a win from Coda Stewart at 152 left the Grizzlies trailing 28-13.
Back-to-back pins from Smith and Sorrentino got Creekview within 28-25, but a Cambridge pin at 195 put the Bears in front 34-25 with two bouts remaining.
Saragusa did his part with a pin at 220 pounds, and Tupman grinded out a 3-2 sudden-death win in triple overtime to knot the match at 34-all.
“Just because it doesn’t look good doesn’t mean we’re out,” Wilkie said. “The kids fought hard and still had matches left. Just going out there and giving their all was key, and each individual did that.”
Tupman concluded his bout tied 1-all at the end of regulation. Neither wrestler scored during the first overtime, and each earned one escape point during the two 30-second overtime periods.
Tupman chose to be down on the mat to start the sudden-death period and earned an escape as well as the victory.
“Coach knew I could win,” Tupman said. “I went out there and tried my hardest. I beat him before and I knew I could beat him again. It’s all in the mindset of the wrestler.
“Going into the second overtime, I was kind of nervous, but I pulled through. He was gassed, so I knew I had it.”
With the team scores tied, the National Federation of High Schools rulebook was used to settle the winner.
Criteria such as penalties and fouls, number of matches won, number of points for pins, technical falls, major decisions and decisions all resulted in a tie, leaving total number of first points scored in each match as the deciding factor, and that allowed Creekview to move on to the final with Pope.
Sequoyah also competed Friday, posting a 1-2 record. The Chiefs lost 76-6 to Pope to begin the tournament, but then beat Osborne 48-18 in the consolation bracket before dropping a 46-21 decision to Sprayberry.