Cobb claims six champions in Area 5AAAAAA
by Emily Horos
ehoros@mdjonline.com
February 02, 2014 12:46 AM | 1932 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Eric Smith, top, was a runner-up for Walton at 220 pounds in Saturday’s Area 5AAAAAA tournament. Smith is one of seven sectional qualifiers the Raiders had.
<Br>Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
Eric Smith, top, was a runner-up for Walton at 220 pounds in Saturday’s Area 5AAAAAA tournament. Smith is one of seven sectional qualifiers the Raiders had.
Staff photo by Jeff Stanton
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WOODSTOCK — Behind the strength of 11 sectional qualifiers, Etowah followed up its Area 5AAAAAA duals title by winning the traditional championship Saturday.

But despite the Eagles’ continued dominance, that didn’t mean the teams from Cobb County left empty-handed.

Nearly two dozen wrestlers from Lassiter, Walton and Wheeler were able to qualify for next weekend’s sectional at Mill Creek by placing in the top four of their respective weight class.

Etowah had four individual champions and accumulated 179.5 points as a team. Roswell (160) was second, followed by Woodstock (136.5) and Walton (124). Wheeler and Lassiter tied for fifth with 120 points, while Cherokee (52.5) and Milton (19) rounded out the standings.

Despite not having a team among the top three, Cobb County did have its share of champions and qualifiers.

Among those winning titles were Wheeler’s E.J. Walker (106 pounds) and Aslan Kilic (113), Walton’s Jacob Murphy (130) and George Humphreys (285), and Lassiter’s Connor Shields (182) and Phillip Murray (195).

Walton coach Pete Murphy said he was pleased for the most part. In addition to Humphreys and Jacob Murphy, the coach’s son and a returning state champion, the Raiders qualified five others for sectionals. Not only that, but all of Walton’s wrestlers finished fifth or better in their weight class.

“Especially with the challenge of the weather, I’m proud that we had kids step up,” Pete Murphy said, alluding to the lack of practices due to three days of canceled school. “Some of them didn’t look like they missed a beat, so that was very exciting as far as that goes. We are pleased with our two champions, but, of course, we always want more.”

Humphreys’ final match came down to the last few seconds. With less than 10 seconds left and the score tied, Roswell’s Cameron Whiteman made a move for a takedown. Humphreys, however, turned it around for two points and the narrow victory.

“George was the fourth seed coming in,” Pete Murphy said. “He came back to beat the No. 1 seed, and then the No. 2 seed also. That was nice.”

Wheeler coach Steve Gatanis was also pleased with his team’s showing.

“We did better than we anticipated,” Gatanis said. “Two champions and three second-place. Out of 14 weight classes, we have seven guys going that qualified for sectionals. We are just thrilled to death.”

The runners-up for Wheeler were Randolph Rich (126), JaQuan Adams (160), and Filipe Silva (195), the last of whom narrowly lost to Lassiter’s Philip Murray 1-0 in the finals.

“We have a good staff with a good assistant coach and two good community coaches, and we all jell,” said Gatanis, the first-year Wheeler coach. “The team is just like a family.”

Other sectional qualifiers included Lassiter’s A.J. Pelletier (second, 132), Jake Montalbano (third, 138), Matthew Levine (fourth, 145), Woody Carter (third, 152), Marshall Liss (fourth, 160), Walton’s Chandler Deaver (third, 106), Ryan LaBan (second, 145), Joseph Baddour (fourth, 170), Colin Fant (third, 182) and Eric Smith (second, 220) and Wheeler’s Diego Ovalle (fourth, 138) and Sergei Kilic (fourth, 120).
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