“I couldn’t ask for anything different,” he said. “It was the perfect day.”
Not many would argue with him.
With several of the state’s top teams in attendance, the event proved to be a worthwhile event to open the wrestling season.
Archer (263) and Pope (254), the reigning champs of their respective classifications, finished first and second in the team standings. Allatoona (180) and Kell (106) also claimed trophies.
Perennial state title contender Collins Hill (98) was fifth, followed by Grayson (92.5), Carrollton (87), Loganville (66), Harrison (65) and River Ridge (54). West Forsyth, Hillgrove, Cherokee, McEachern, Johns Creek and host Lassiter also competed.
“I’d like this to become an annual event to kick off the season,” Brickley said. “The parents and coaches were all pleased. We had some significant and quality wrestling all day with national all-Americans and state-placers throughout the gym. If we can get the word spread, this could be even better next year. (Saturday) was a pretty good litmus test for some of these kids to see where they are right at the start of the season.”
Pope had four individual champions — Jake Adcock, Jake Henson, Zeke Weber and Seth Gorman.
Adcock, a returning state champion from Carrollton who transferred to Pope this year, faced off against Archer’s Sam Bullard, a runner-up from last season, in the finals at 138 pounds.
Adcock entered the third period trailing 3-1 and picked up an early escape point before grabbing a one-point lead on a takedown with 45 seconds on the clock, leading to his 4-3 victory.
“When I saw the bracket, I had this match in my mind at the end,” Adcock said. “But I knew I had to stay focused and take it one match at a time because, if I didn’t, I could mess it up. It was a chess match. (Bullard) is a great wrestler and I expected it to be close.”
Another highlighted match saw two returning state champions, Henson and Archer’s Daniel Bullard, meet at 160 pounds.
Henson established his dominance early, taking a 6-2 first-period lead. The margin grew to 8-3 in the second period before he won 8-5.
“I worked with (Bullard) this past summer and knew what my strengths against him were,” Henson said. “I just stayed with that. This is a tough tournament. I haven’t really wrestled since July, so I was a little nervous coming in. Now, I have some momentum after this and I just need to keep it up.”
Weber, a junior in his second varsity season with the Greyhounds, won his first individual tournament after pinning Cherokee’s Zach Howard at 182.
“I thought I was out of shape, but I guess I’m not,” Weber said. “I’m a little surprised I won, but I’m always positive going into a match, so it feels really good to win my first tournament.”
In his first varsity season after two years on junior varsity, Gorman never really lost control of his match at heavyweight and went on to beat Archer’s Collin Williams 6-2 for his first individual championship.
“This is pretty awesome,” said Gorman, who typically wrestles at 220. “I wrestled up (Saturday), so this is shocking. There are a lot of big people at heavyweight.”
Every wrestler Pope brought to the meet placed.
“It was a good day,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “There were some very tough teams here. This was a great way to start the season. And to be only nine points behind Archer shows that we’re right there. Having everyone place is a big deal this early in the season.”
Harrison Kemp fueled Allatoona’s high finish with a win at 106 pounds. He took a 4-2 lead into the third period over West Forsyth’s Troy Crawford and won 7-5.
“I thought I’d do well here because I’ve been training hard,” said Kemp, a freshman competing in his first varsity tournament. “It feels good to win, but it was tough.”
The Buccaneers also had a runner-up and six third-place finishers among their 11 placers. Kell placed eight.
“Not bad considering we didn’t have any football players,” Allatoona coach Joe Lanier said. “With the teams that were here (Saturday), I’m really pleased with how well we did.”
Collins Hill had two individual champions in Sean Russell (120) and Ryan Millhoff (126). Rhett Hembree (145) and Taylor Lujan (170) won for Carrollton, as did Archer’s Vinny Artiques (113), Chris Diaz (132), Thomas Bullard (152), Elliot Lee (195) and Jacob Lill (220).