If there was any doubt as to which region rules Class AAAA wrestling in Georgia it was put to rest Saturday in Dublin. Region 7 put on a show the packed stands at West Laurens High School will not soon forget.
"That was complete domination from our region," said Gilmer County coach Sam Snider, whose Bobcats ran away with the traditional team title with four individual champions and 191 points. "For us to get 191 points and for [runner-up] Cass to get 160, that's a lot of points for one region."
In addition to Gilmer's champions -- Alberto Perez at 106 pounds, Marcelino Lopez at 113, Daniel Bautista at 120 and Johnie Flakes at 152 -- Cass had one in Clake Walker at 126 and Dalton added another in 182-pound Sidney Wheeler, whose overtime decision over Southeast Whifield rival Austin Allen was one of the tournament's best.
"We knew it was going to be tough because Austin Allen is a very good wrestler and you could tell from the start he had done his homework," said Dalton coach Michael Keefe, who also praised the third-place finish of 132-pound Dylan Carlile in a weight class with three state champions. "But Sidney is a fighter and he did what he had to do. Once he got into overtime, he got a takedown to end it.
"He's got one of the toughest takedowns I've ever seen from a 182-pounder. He just explodes into you, and it's very difficult to counter."
Allen's season ended at 52-4, with all four losses to Wheeler.
There were eight runners-up from the region, including the Heritage duo of freshman Chuckie Thurman at 113 and senior Tyler Hill at 138. Other runners-up were Southeast's Allen and Omar Ruiz, Gilmer's Cameron Perry, Ridgeland's Caleb Mariakis, Cedartown's Jonas Ritter and Cass's Tyjuan Jett and Devin Wills.
Gilmer's team title, the Bobcats' fifth championship in the last seven years, was all but secured after the semifinals, and the team left no room for drama when its lightweights swept the first three titles.
"Sometimes plans work out, and it was a season-long plan for us to have Alberto and Marcelino safely cut down to 106 and 113, and I told them if they did they would get to the final round," Snider said. "After Alberto won his, Marcelino was up against the Heritage kid that had beaten him three times. He spent two weeks studying just on that kid and how to stop what he wanted to do, and it worked. Once he got the takedown in overtime to win it, the place went crazy. It was the best match I saw all year."
Gordon Lee finished a distant second in Class A to host Commerce, 225.5 points to 131.5, after a poor showing in the opening round. The Trojans, however, did get a third individual title from junior 113-pounder Johnny Ragsdale, while Will Jacks and Stihl Lance were runners-up at 152 and 126.
"We lost some heartbreakers early on, and it just kind of snowballed after that," Gordon Lee coach Brent Raby said. "We were in third place for most of the day but wrestled back hard to get second. Bottom line was we just didn't wrestle to our capabilities."
Gordon Lee also had third-place finishers in Zach Murdock, Dylan Skipper, Shane Farmer and Dallas Goodlet.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.
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 ...