Etowah had four wrestlers win area titles, as the team accumulated 179.5 points overall. Roswell (160) was second, followed by Woodstock (136.5) and Walton (124). Wheeler and Lassiter tied for fifth at 120, while Cherokee (52.5) and Milton (19) rounded out the field.
Each of Cherokee County’s teams were able to qualify a few wrestlers for next weekend’s sectional meet at Mill Creek. The top four finishers in each weight class advanced, while the fifth-place finishers could be called on as alternates should one of the top four seeds have to withdraw.
Among those winning titles for Etowah were Dylan Wagner, who followed his No. 1 seed at 126 pounds and pinned Wheeler’s Randolph Rich in the final.
Alex Rusk (120) Joey Payton (132) and Bronson Rechsteiner (170) also took No. 1 seeds to championships for Etowah.
Coach Charles Higdon was pleased with Etowah’s number of sectional qualifiers. Out of the 13 wrestlers the Eagles entered — they have not had a wrestler in the 220-pound class all season — all but two moved on.
The two wrestlers who didn’t place in the top four were each fifth and will practice this week with the hope of being called on as alternates.
“There is always one match that you wish you had back, and there is always one match that you are like, ‘Holy crap, how did that happen?’” Higdon said. “But I’m really happy. I’m excited for our kids. I think that it’s exciting for Etowah. We haven’t won one of these in a while, so it’s neat to see our kids get excited. It’s a cool thing for wrestling.”
Higdon said it’s always nice to win the traditional meet, because, for many years, it was the only state title in wrestling. Dual championships have only been decided since 2002.
“It’s important for us to win these, for sure,” Higdon said. “I think it does a lot for our program and gets more kids out and will be a spring board so we can compete annually for these things.”
Woodstock’s Zach Shareef won the title at 145 pounds after pinning Walton’s Ryan LaBan in the title round.
Finishing as runners-up Saturday were Woodstock’s Alex Gomez (106), Tristan Watson (113), Johnathan Morris (170) and London Demetriou (182), along with Etowah’s Karl Davis (152).
Other qualifiers included Etowah’s Josh Thomas (third, 113), Jake Wagner (third, 145), Brandon Reibly (third, 160), Jesse Sullivan (fourth, 182), Ray Harding (fourth, 195) and Brad Morgan (fourth, 285), Cherokee’s Lee Hands (third, 126), Maxwell McMahan (third, 120), Rod Lopusnak (fourth, 132) and Evan Adcox (fourth, 152) and Woodstock’s Chris Gillmartin (fourth, 126), Austin Biggers (third, 195), Will Stumpf (fourth, 220) and Daniel Benitez (third, 285).
Area 7AAAA: River Ridge saw just one of its wrestlers finish in the top four at its area tournament, which was held Saturday at Cass.
Seth Nama finished fourth at 160 pounds and will represent the Knights next weekend in the sectional at Fayette County.