Grizzlies advance 10 on to wrestling finals
by Emily Horos
ehoros@cherokeetribune.com
February 09, 2014 04:05 AM | 1463 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grant Slater finished third for Creekview at 120 pounds and was one of 10 Grizzlies to earn spots at the state finals in Duluth.
<BR>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Grant Slater finished third for Creekview at 120 pounds and was one of 10 Grizzlies to earn spots at the state finals in Duluth.
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
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Creekview will be sending 10 wrestlers on to the state championships in Duluth next weekend, while Woodstock will send seven, Etowah six and Cherokee one.

Creekview coach Wyatt Wilkie said the number is the largest his program has ever sent to the traditional state championships.

“I think it sets us up real well for a good opportunity next weekend,” Wilkie said after Saturday’s Class AAAAA sectional at Cambridge.

Creekview entered the sectional with 11 wrestlers, and while Wilkie was disappointed to lose one along the way, he didn’t complain about the 10 who remained.

“It was a long weekend,” he said. “There were definitely some close matches as far as placing, but they were all in the mix, one through eight. Some of them went in our favor, and some we might have lost in that placing round, but, all in all, I’m very pleased with these guys.”

Hunter Smith won the sectional title at 170 pounds with a 7-4 decision over Clarke Central’s Owen Graham. Joseph Sorrentino pinned Flowery Branch’s Grant Simonds in a little over a minute for the title at 182 pounds.

Bryce Davis (106) took second for the Grizzlies.

Also qualifying were Grant Slater (third, 120), Ryan Camp (fifth, 126), Justin Goss (fifth, 132), Kyle Merenda (eighth, 145), Coda Stewart (third, 152), Christian Saragusa (fourth, 220) and Brock Tupman (fourth, 285).

Sequoyah did not have any wrestlers advance to the state championships.

Woodstock qualified nine wrestlers for the Class AAAAAA sectional, but only had eight compete after a knee injury prevented Will Stumpf from taking the mat at 220 pounds. Of the eight, seven placed high enough to advance to the state finals.

Woodstock coach Michael Powell said it was nearly as many wrestlers that he has taken to the state finals in his other three seasons combined.

“We have seven guys going to state, which is the most since I took over,” Powell said. “We had three my first year, then two and three last year, so we’ve had as many guys going this year than we’ve had in the first three years.”

Powell said that when he took over, few of the wrestlers had experience. He focused on developing the freshmen, who are now seniors.

“We took a team of freshmen, and they’ve gotten better over the last three years through a lot of hard work,” Powell said. “We improved our schedule with some of the best competition we could find, and that’s helped them. Most of our guys will be coming back, so I think the future looks bright.”

Among those moving on to the state meet for Woodstock are Alex Gomez (fourth, 103), Tristan Watson (sixth, 113), Zach Shareef (third, 145), Duncan Morris (seventh, 170), London Demetriou (fifth, 182), Austin Biggers (eighth, 195) and Daniel Benitez (fifth, 285).

Etowah coach Charlie Higdon was disappointed with the way his squad finished. After qualifying 11 for the sectional, the Eagles will be sending just six to state.

“(Saturday) was frustrating,” Higdon said. “We didn’t close well. We had 11 guys remaining in the morning, and those losses sting because now it’s the end of the season for those kids. All the guys worked hard, but we didn’t execute. We didn’t do what we did in practice, but I’m proud of everybody, and especially proud of the six we got through to state.”

Brandon Reibly (160) and Bronson Rechsteiner (170) led the way for the Eagles with second-place finishes. Also advancing were Joey Payton (third, 132), Alex Rusk (fourth, 120), Dylan Wagner (fourth 126) and Karl Davis (fourth, 152).

Cherokee sent four wrestlers to the sectional, but will have just one, Max McMahan, moving on to the state meet. McMahan (120) finished 10th — the last qualifying spot.

In Class AAAA, River Ridge had just Seth Nama competing at the sectional, and he failed to qualify for the state meet.

Cherokee Tribune sports writer Carlton D. White contributed to this report.
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