In Saturday’s Region 5AAAAAA semifinal at Roswell High School, the Wildcats’ match with Cherokee was knotted at 33-all, with Silva’s match at 195 pounds all that separated Wheeler from advancing to the championship round against host Roswell.
Silva wrestled smart under pressure, keeping Cherokee’s Kareem Amor from scoring points. He then chalked up five points of his own before pinning Amor at the third-period buzzer.
“I wanted to cry,” Silva said after his win, “but I was too tired.”
Silva’s pin gave Wheeler a 39-33 victory, guaranteeing the Wildcats a spot in the region final and a trip to Macon for the state duals. However, they came up short to a heavily favored Roswell squad in the region final, falling 52-15.
Wheeler had its moments early against the Hornets.
It started at 106 pounds, when Sergei Kilic won a close 7-3 decision. Roswell then won its next three matches, scoring 15 points in the process, but Wheeler fought back when Victor Garcia (132) won 4-1 and Wysmark Chaves (138) prevailed with a pin in less than a minute, cutting Roswell’s lead to three points.
Wheeler, however, started losing the points battle in the middle weights. Kevin Pluckter (145) got pinned at the 5:02 mark, JaQuan Adams (152) lost an 11-3 major decision and Adanis Basilio (160) fell 5-1.
Then Roswell pulled away on a pair of pins in the upper weights, and Wheeler having to forfeit at 220 didn’t help. Keon Shaw (285) did score an additional three points for Wheeler when he beat Hunter Hill 9-7 in overtime.
“I’m super excited for the guys,” Wheeler coach Matt Brickley said of his team going to the state duals for the first time. “We’ve had our ups and downs in the duals all season long, and we stepped it up (Saturday) when we needed to.”
In Wheeler’s match against Cherokee, the Wildcats had the most success in the middle weights.
Victor Garcia delivered a close 6-4 decision to give Wheeler the lead for good, while Chaves needed 3:54 to get a pin. Pluckter won by a major decision, giving Wheeler an extra point, and JaQuan Adams (152) did the same.
Wheeler beat Etowah in the first round of the winners’ bracket.
Lassiter lost to Cherokee in the first round of the winners’ bracket, and that ended up being the very reason why the Trojans had to forfeit their rematch opportunity against the Warriors in the consolation bracket for a shot at finishing third. According to tournament rules, a team can only beat a team once.
Lassiter, which had to settle for fourth place, beat Woodstock 44-32 in the consolation to get there.
The Trojans broke open a tight match once they got to the upper weights. Connor Shields (170) and Hakim Shahid (182) both won by technical falls, and Moe Nyang recorded a pin in 30 seconds at 195.
Walton lost to Woodstock in its opening match, but it came back to beat Milton in the consolation draw before falling to Cherokee.
Jacob Murphy (132), Ryan Laban (138) and Matt Lemer (145) each won their matches to set the tone for the Raiders against Milton. All three also kept Walton in the match against Cherokee before the Warriors took over in the upper weights.