published Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Gilmer County wins AAAA wrestling state again

DUBLIN, Ga. — Gilmer County left no room for drama early Saturday evening at the GHSA Class AAAA traditional wrestling state tournament at West Laurens High School.

The Bobcats ran away with their fifth traditional team title in seven years and their second consecutive AAAA crown by having a nearly perfect final round. Gilmer had four individual champions, including the evening's first three at 106 pounds (Alberto Perez), 112 (Marcelino Lopez) and 120 (Daniel Bautista) to easily out-distance Region 7 rival Cass, 191 points to 160.

Coach Sam Snider's juggernaut also had a repeat title from 152-pound Johnie Flakes and a runner-up finish by 132-pound Cameron Perry to go with one third-place and two fifth-place wins.

The Chattanooga area's top finishing AAAA team was Heritage in ninth, and the only individual champion was Dalton's Sidney Wheeler at 182 pounds. The 2012 individual champion needed overtime to defeat rival Austin Allen from Southeast Whitfield for the third time this postseason, 8-6, in the championship match.

Earning runner-up finishes were Heritage freshman Chuckie Thurman at 113, in a tight 7-5 decision to Gilmer's Lopez; Southeast's Omar Ruiz, who was a third-period pin victim of Gilmer's Bautista at 120; Ridgeland's Caleb Mariakis, who was on the short end of a 3-1 decision at 126 to Cass's Blake Walker; and Heritage senior Tyler Hill, who lost to defending champion Roman Boylan of Alexander at 138.

• The Class A tournament at Commerce was not completed at press deadline but the hosts clinched the team title earlier Saturday. Gordon Lee did not have a good start to the tournament, going just 5-7 in the opening round while Commerce want 11-2 and put seven wrestlers in the finals.

Gordon Lee did get another individual title from 113-pound Johnny Ragsdale. The junior won his third state title with a 11-3 decision over Commerce's Mitchell Patton. Senior Will Jacks fell short of defending his individual title, losing 20-7 at 152 pounds to Turner County's J.J. Alfau, and Stihl Lance also finished second with a 13-2 loss to Athens Christian's Stephen Carasaniti at 126 pounds.

• The hosts also won in Class AAA, where Buford easily outdistanced Banks County, 156 points to 101. Sonoraville was the top area finishing team at 10th, with Ryan Farist earning a runner-up finish at 160. Ringgold had three medalists, led by Sam Shepard's third-place finish at 126 pounds.

• Jefferson claimed another team title in Class AA, earning 193 points to 156 for runner-up Bremen. Murray County, led by Clayton Thornbury's runner-up finish at 195 pounds, was 13th.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6296.

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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