’Hounds, Bucs in control
by Carlton D. White
January 18, 2014 01:14 AM | 2619 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Marietta’s Jason Caldwell, top, forces Kell’s Connor Mendelson to the mat in a first-round match at 106 pounds. Caldwell won by major decision and is still alive in the pursuit for a county title today.
<BR>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Marietta’s Jason Caldwell, top, forces Kell’s Connor Mendelson to the mat in a first-round match at 106 pounds. Caldwell won by major decision and is still alive in the pursuit for a county title today.
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
MARIETTA — It will be a two-team race for the 43rd Cobb County Invitational title, after Friday’s two championship rounds were completed at Sprayberry High School.

Pope qualified 11 of its 14 wrestlers into today’s semifinals and totaled 119 points, while Allatoona sent nine through and is 7½ points off the Greyhounds’ pace.

After the Greyhounds and Buccaneers, there’s a considerable dropoff in the team standings. Kennesaw Mountain is third with 61.5 points, followed by Marietta (60) and McEachern (57). Walton (51), Kell (48), Wheeler (42.5), Lassiter (37) and Harrison (36) round out the top 10.

Sprayberry (30), Campbell (18), Pebblebrook (17), Hillgrove (16), South Cobb (8), North Cobb (4), North Cobb Christian (4), Whitefield Academy (4) and Osborne (0) complete the list.

Pope’s and Allatoona’s championship quests will resume today at 11 a.m., with consolation rounds at 9 a.m. It leads up to the finals, which are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

“The guys just came in and wrestled confidently, like they’ve been doing the past couple of weeks,” said Pope coach Jim Haskin, who will be celebrating a birthday today. “The guys are getting points and bonus points in a lot of different ways and that helps us in the long run.”

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in each weight class are all alive, setting up for the potential of some exciting final matches.

“We have five guys in the semifinals, and we brought nine to the tournament, so we got more than half of them through,” Kennesaw Mountain coach Roberto Rivera said. “We just have to keep plugging forward and see what happens.”

Marietta and McEachern also qualified five wrestlers for the semifinals. Kell is next with four, while Walton, Wheeler and Lassiter each have three. Hillgrove, Harrison and Sprayberry each have two, with Campbell and Pebblebrook advancing one apiece.

“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been able to see the team really start to come together,” said Pebblebrook coach Kent Workinger, whose 113-pounder, Taquee Muhammad, will face Pope’s Josh Tazzetta in the semifinals. “We only had three wrestlers at county last year, and this year, we have seven.”

Marietta placed 10th last year and is hoping to do better this time around.

“I thought more of our guys could have made it into the semifinals,” coach Tommy Carthers said. “It looks like we’re starting to peak at the right time. I can see the guys are getting hungry and doing the things they’re supposed to do to achieve their goals.

“Last year, we were in a good position after the first day, but didn’t score too many points the second day, and saw teams leapfrog us. We’re hoping that doesn’t happen again. We need to keep improving and keep scoring points.”

Kell is also hoping to improve after finishing 11th a season ago.

“We brought 11 guys, and the four in the semifinals are probably who thought would get there,” coach Steve Lattizori said. “We wish we could have pulled some upsets, but I’m proud of the kids and happy where we’re at.”

Returning state champions Jacob Murphy of Walton and Jake Adcock of Pope are still on track to meet in the final at 138 pounds, should they get past their semifinal opponents.

Pope’s Jake Henson (160), who scored two pins in less than 40 seconds Friday, is still alive for his fourth consecutive county championship, while Kennesaw Mountain’s Justan Rivera (182) is aiming for his third title.

Pope’s Seth Gorman scored a win at 285 over Walton’s George Humphrey, who was a USA Wrestling cadet freestyle national All-American this past summer.

Gorman, however, will have his hands full in a loaded class that also includes McEachern’s Uche Nkadi, Marietta’s Jeron Holsey and Campbell’s DeKevion Byrd, the last of whom is undefeated on the season.
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