“Lucky No. 7 is pretty cool.”
Pope rolled to its seventh straight area duals championship after defeating No. 2 seed Creekview 45-25 in the final round of the Area 7AAAAA tournament at the Hound Pound.
The top-seeded Greyhounds collected six pins and won nine bouts, en route to the victory. Pope had beaten Sequoyah (76-6) and Forsyth Central (67-5) to reach the final.
With the area title, the Greyhounds advanced to next week’s state championship, which will begin Thursday at the Macon Centreplex.
Pope is looking to extend another streak, having won the last two state duals.
“It feels awesome to be able to go back and defend our title again,” Haskin said. “We came into this knowing we had some tough competition. (Third-seeded) Cambridge and Creekview are for real.
“We felt confident coming off our road trips, and for the guys to come in here and do what they just did solidifies a lot of what we believe in as coaches. Taking these kids places, and sometimes winning and sometimes losing — getting the best competition we can get paid off (Friday).”
Pope’s Josh Tazzetta started things off with a pin over Brody Ross at 113 pounds. Creekview’s Grant Slater captured a major decision at 120, but Sam Skinner held on for a 1-0 decision over Ryan Camp at 126, igniting the Greyhounds’ run of seven consecutive victories.
“Skinner’s 1-0 win was a huge win because the train just kept going down the track after that,” Haskin said. “The kids got fired up over it because they knew that the Creekview kid was a good kid. It was an important win to get the momentum going.”
After Skinner’s victory put Pope in front 9-4, consecutive pins from Tyler Haskin (132 pounds), Jake Adcock (138), T.J. Collins (145), Davis Burson (152) and Jake Henson (160) extended the margin to
39-4. Zeke Weber’s 3-1 win over Hunter Smith at 170 pounds gave Pope an insurmountable 42-4 advantage and clinched the match for the Greyhounds.
Henson scored his pin in 25 seconds, while Adcock won in 55.
“In my head, I was thinking that our kids coming through — starting at 113 up to 170 is where our hammers are,” Jim Haskin said. “Those are our older, seasoned kids who have been around and know what’s expected. I’m thinking we have to come out of that 36-0 or something like that, and they surpassed it. They did it. To get pins all the way through like that is just doing what they were asked to do.
“You win duals because you pin, and to go bang-bang-bang-bang like we did takes the heart out of a team. It was an amazing little run.”
Creekview collected three pins down the stretch, winning four of the final five bouts. Joseph Sorrentino (182) and Logan Ridings (195) won back-to-back matches to trim the Grizzlies’ deficit to 42-13.
Pope’s Sean Hayden scored a late takedown in posting a 5-3 decision against Christian Saragusa at 220, but Brock Tupman (285) and Bryce Davis (106) netted the final 12 points for Creekview.
Kell and Sprayberry tied for fifth in the area, while Osborne went 0-2.
Sprayberry fell to Riverwood 33-30 in the opening round, but it bounced back to beat Northview (53-21) and Sequoyah (46-21) before falling 63-9 to Cambridge in the consolation bracket.
Osborne dropped a 54-12 decision to Kell and lost 48-18 to Sequoyah.
Cambridge beat Kell 71-3 in the quarterfinals, but the Longhorns toppled Riverwood 41-20 in the consolation bracket before dropping a 43-32 decision to Forsyth Central.
“We’re definitely a work in progress,” Kell coach Steve Lattizori said. “We had some kids sick, and some still out of town, but our diehards stayed and gave a good effort.
“Cambridge is stout, and we do well against teams with our kind of ability, so even though we lost, the Forsyth Central match was pretty good.”