It endures well into the summer.
“There really is no offseason until after July,” Pope standout Brooks Climmons said. “The state championship is like a checkpoint for me because nationals is a little over a month later. I need to make sure I’m running on all cylinders by then to be ready.”
Climmons was certainly ready.
After winning his second state championship, at 182 pounds in the Class AAAAA tournament, and completing an undefeated 34-0 season, he still had work to be done.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation at his weight class by Amateur Wrestling News for the majority of the season, and having dominated his competition in Georgia, Climmons now needed to prove his abilities at the national level. He earned his lofty status early in the season with victories over several nationally ranked opponents at a high school duals tournament in Minnesota.
Nearly two months after claiming his state championship, Climmons went on to win the 182-pound senior division title in April at the National High School Coaches Association High School Wrestling Championship in Virginia Beach, Va.
“That’s the granddaddy of them all for folkstyle wrestling,” Climmons said. “That was the ultimate goal this year and I got it. I had a bad showing there as a junior, and I wanted to come back and redeem myself.”
Climmons’ victory on a national stage not only solidified his national No. 1 ranking, it solidified his status as the 2012-13 Marietta Daily Journal/Cobb County Male Athlete of the Year.
“I thought it was a joke when I found out (about the award) because there have been some great athletes that I know that haven’t been athlete of the year,” Climmons said. “Kenyan Drake from Hillgrove, who plays football at Alabama, didn’t get it, and Tyren Jones at Walton or Tyree Harris — I was just surprised. It was surreal. Then, it hit me, and I was just honored.
“I told my mom and she started crying and then we were both smiling. It was a pretty good feeling.”
Climmons’ athleticism goes beyond the wrestling mats. Also a standout football player at Pope, he started at running back for the first three games of the season before starting at outside linebacker over the final eight games of the year.
The Greyhounds started the season 0-2 before beating Class AAAAAA Etowah 20-17 in overtime. That win started a six-game winning streak for Pope, which went on to the postseason for the third straight year and finished with a 7-4 record.
“He was a tremendous outside linebacker and running back for us,” Pope football coach Matt Kemper said. “He was an outstanding player with unbelievable instincts. He had a nose for the football and he was impossible to block.
“He was a spark for us on defense. He was a leader, and he was everything you could ask for in a player. It’s a huge honor for him to be the male athlete of the year. He had a lot of success playing two sports (at Pope), and he was a good kid.”
Climmons’ exploits on the football field, however, were surpassed by his accomplishments on the wrestling mats. Along with his state title, Climmons won a Region 7AAAAA crown, and helped lead the Greyhounds to a region traditional crown as well as the state duals and traditional championships.
A medial collateral ligament injury in his right knee, which occurred around Christmas, put Climmons on the shelf for a while, but he returned Jan. 26 for his run to the individual state championship.
“He’s a fantastic wrestler and had a phenomenal season during his senior year,” Pope wrestling coach Jim Haskin said. “He’s had a great career. He’ll be tough to lose and was certainly one of the best kids I’ve ever coached in wrestling.
“He’s won everything. He’s won (all-American) at Fargo, he’s won in Iowa, he’s won the NHSCAs. He’s won all of the big tournaments. Now, he has a shot at being a NCAA Division I champion. He’s done everything possible in high school.”
With all of his high school goals accomplished, Climmons, who will wrestle collegiately at Air Force, is now setting his sights on what lies afterwards.
“My goals as far as college go is to be a four-time all-American and a two-time NCAA champion,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to be on the 2020 U.S. Olympic team and win an Olympic gold medal for the United States. That’s what I’m working towards.”