The Greyhounds, who are seeking their fifth straight county championship, advanced 12 wrestlers into today's semifinals to lead all schools.
Pope holds a 45.5-point lead over Kell, which has seven semifinalists. Kennesaw Mountain, which advanced five wrestlers, is third with 48.5 points. Rounding out the top 10 are Wheeler (47.5), Harrison (47), Allatoona (46), Lassiter (45), Walton (42), Hillgrove (40) and Campbell (31).
"We got 12 of our 14 through, so we'll see how it goes (today)," Pope coach Jim Haskin said. "We have some seasoned kids that have been around and know what this tournament is all about. They know bonus points are big here, so they're going out and trying to get pins.
"This is a pride tournament and the guys go out and they wrestle for their schools. It's about being the best in the county, and it's probably my favorite tournament to wrestle in because it's against your peers. It all comes down to what happens (today)."
Thirteen of the 14 No. 1 seeds are still alive for county titles heading into today. The lone upset came at 145 pounds, where Wheeler's Aaron McGilvery held on for a 6-5 decision over Walton's Mitchell Lax.
Returning county champions Paul Pelletier of Lassiter, Chris Murdock of Kennesaw Mountain, Harrison teammates Anthony Fiacco and Jake Shumpert, Kell's Steven Summey and Pope teammates Jake Henson and Trevor Stevens are still alive in their respective weight classes.
Kennesaw Mountain's third-place score came as a bit of a surprise to coach Roberto Rivera. The Mustangs had seven seeded wrestlers heading into the tournament, and five moved on. A sixth, Rene Guttierrez, led 6-2 in his quarterfinal match against Marietta's Asi Wilson at 160 pounds before eventually losing an 8-6 decision.
"Yeah, I'm a little surprised where we are," Rivera said. "We brought 10 here and it looks like we're shooting for a top-four, top-five finish. We have some young guys that are wrestling above their heads. (Today) is a big day of wrestling and an opportunity to get some big points. We have five in the semifinals, and getting them through will help us a lot. I'm happy about (Friday)."
Kennesaw Mountain and Allatoona each have five wrestling semifinalists, while Lassiter, Wheeler, Hillgrove and Harrison are all tied with four semifinalists. Sprayberry and Walton each have three, Marietta two and McEachern, South Cobb and Campbell all have one.
Marietta's two seeded wrestlers - Wilson and Lawton Ward (170) - remain in the championship rounds.
"The guys are starting to wrestle to my expectations," Marietta coach Tommy Carthers said. "It's a good time to peak right now, so I'm proud of the guys. They're going to have some tough matches (today), but I like what I'm seeing."
The remaining teams include Sprayberry (28 points) in 11th place, followed by McEachern (12), Marietta (18), South Cobb (16) and Osborne (4). Mount Paran Christian, North Cobb, North Cobb Christian and Pebblebrook did not have any wrestlers advance through the championship rounds.
The invitational will conclude today at Sprayberry, with wrestlebacks beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the championship semifinals at 11 a.m. The finals, including matches for fifth and third place, are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.