Twenty-seven county wrestlers qualified from Adairsville, Cartersville, Cass and Woodland thanks to strong performances at the sectionals this past weekend.
Cass had the most wrestlers qualify for the state meet with 12. Woodland had seven, Adairsville had five and Cartersville had three qualify.
Adairsville brought nine area qualifiers to sectionals. Making it out to states was Salvador Grimaldo at 106 pounds, Chance Bishop at 138 pounds, Brett Gutkowski at 152, Daelen Harrison at 160 and Coltin Gulledge.
Bishop finished first at sectionals in his weight class, Harrison and Gulledge finished second, Grimaldo finished third and Gutkowski fourth. Charlie silvers came in fifth in his weight class and Dallas Kubala was sixth, both will be alternates at state.
“We did pretty well. There were two surprises, but for all of them, it was tough getting in,” Adairsville head coach Joey Harris said. “It was a little tougher for AAA with an eight-man bracket for state, so just getting there is a pretty good accomplishment. I’m really, really proud of that and really glad they made it.”
Cartersville had three of five sectional qualifiers make it to the Gwinnett Center. One wrestler did not show for sectionals. As a result, four competed, three made the state tournament, a quality percentage according to Cartersville head coach Garvin Edwards.
“I was proud of them,” Edwards said. “They wrestled hard.”
Senior Evan Cole placed first in the 145-pound weight class, freshman Robbie Earick placed fourth at 106 pounds and Brandon Reaves qualified in fourth at 132 pounds.
“Brandon Reaves wrestled and had a kid from St. Pius in the semis and his knee popped. I went out there and he was winning but it was a close match, and I asked him, I said, ‘Brandon, what do you want to do, son?’ He said, ‘Coach, I’m going to finish the match,’” Edwards said. “He gets up, the guys takes a shot, he reaches up, throws the kid to his back and then pins him.”
Meanwhile, Cole and Earick continued their impressive seasons.
“Robbie Earick went 37-18 and placed in almost every tournament we’ve been to. He qualified to go to state as a freshman. That’s outstanding,” Edwards said. “Even Cole went 50-1 this year. His only loss was to a AAAAAA kid from Parkview. He’s had an outstanding season. He’s an area champion. He’s a sectional champion now. He was a third-place finisher last year in state, so he’s going back after an outstanding season with an outstanding record. He’s had the best record, single season, since I’ve been here.”
Woodland also had some quality performances at the sectionals. The three sectional champions were Logan Sims, Jake Huffine and Isaiah Ross. Jacob May was a runner-up, Jahvar Lewis came in third, Jermel Lewis fifth and Matt Evans came in sixth. According to head coach Adrian Tramutola, Woodland still has a chance to compete for the traditional state championship.
“I thought we could get one more in. I thought eight of nine would be good. If we got all nine in, we would be thrilled,” Tramutola said. “In my opinion, there are four or five teams that are right around each other. Cambridge, who qualified the most, Allatoona, Creekview, Pope and us, any one of those teams could be there in the end.
“It’s going to take a great performance by our guys and to score some bonus points in each one of our matches to keep up with some teams that have eight and nine qualifiers. We’ve got some guys who have been there before, a defending champ, a defending third. The guys who are there now, our seven, are wrestling as good as they’ve been wrestling all year, so I’m excited abut that.”
One factor Woodland and the other four teams will have to deal with is the potential for weather cancellations, which may result in a lack of practice time. The weather affected the Wildcats two weeks ago in the week leading up to the area tournament.
Woodland finished third in its area after a first-place finish during the duals season. As a result, the team did not qualify as many for sectionals as Tramutola would have liked.
“It didn’t help us. I can tell you that,” Tramutola said of the weather leading up to the area tournament. “We ended up finishing third at the area and just had some guys who were projected to place high not wrestle well and just got beat out. I still think we made it out of there with our seven best kids, who can make it out and do well at the state tournament.”
Harris is similarly confident about his Adairsville squad entering Friday and Saturday’s meet.
“I think every guy we’re taking can wrestle well at the right time. I could see all of them placing top six for sure,” Harris said. “We just need to win one. There’s no easy matches, so that’s one of the things we tell the guys, at this point, a first-round match is not any different than a finals match. One of the things we preach all the time anyway is treat every match like it’s a state championship match. That way, once you get there, it’s just another match.”
Barring any weather delays, the matches will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday. The meet will resume Saturday at around 6 a.m. for Cass and Woodland, and between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. for Adairsville and Cartersville.