It was a special weekend for many local programs with the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) traditional state championships taking place at the Macon Centreplex Feb. 13 through 16.
Woodward completed its team sweep at the statewide level for the 2018-19 campaign with its Class AAAA title. After winning the team duals event earlier this season, the War Eagles finished the traditional competition atop of the standings with 169 points, followed by West Laurens at 166.5 and Blessed Trinity with 129. Woodward had six individual finalists and five champions during the competition. It’s the fifth state title for the War Eagles and the first since 2013.
“The victory shows Woodward is battle-tested and proven again and again its one of the top programs in the state,” War Eagles’ head coach Jeff Ragan said. “Our program might be young, but what we are building is not just a winning team but rather a championship program, and this is just the start of a dynasty here at Woodward. It still took the other guys who qualified to help us score the extra points we needed to take the top spot, so it was still a team effort.”
Starting things off for Woodward was Nick Masters, who won the 126-pound weight class with a pin of Pickens’ C.J. Murray in the finals, finishing his season with a record of 57-2. Michael Kilic won at 132 with a 13-8 decision against Blessed Trinity’s Gunner Filipowicz in the finals, posting a final record of 76-2 this season. Matthew Singleton concluded his 70-1 campaign for the War Eagles with a 13-5 major decision over North Oconee’s Sam Johnson in the 138 finals.
McCoy Pace secured the 145 individual title for Woodward with a 3-1 decision over Gilmer’s Javier Jacinto in the finals, finishing his year with a 62-15 record.
“The guy who had the most amazing state tourney was McCoy, who placed fourth (in the sectional tournament) the previous weekend and had to defeat not only the top-seeded kid in the state, who had beaten him several months earlier, but then, in the finals, he had to defeat a wrestler who had just beaten him the weekend before,” Ragan said. “Without McCoy learning from his losses and making such big improvements this season, this title would not have been possible.”
Woodward’s Malcolm Wiley won the 195 title with a pin of Perry’s Zeke Taylor in the finals. He finished his season with a 60-2 mark. Malachi Wiley placed second at 152 while Michael Rinker (106), Hayes Ogletree (160), Brandon Smith (182) and Robert Joseph (285) also participated at state for the War Eagles.
Holy Innocents’ finished sixth in the Class A competition, which was won by Commerce. Golden Bears grappler Jake Swink brought home the 120-pound individual title with a 3-0 victory over Commerce’s Bryson Flint in the finals, finishing his campaign with a 40-9 record. Michael Cox placed second in the 220 competition and teammate Art Martinez was fourth at 106. Other Holy Innocents’ wrestlers who qualified for state were Reagan Sherk (113), Charlie King (126), Robert McDonald (145), Sam Cravey (170), James Gleeson (182), Conor Swennumson (195) and Tyler White (285).
Wesleyan had two wrestlers place second in their respective divisions in the Class A competition in Harrison Dearth (145) and Tanner Bivins (285). Sam Schmitt was third at 152 for the Wolves while teammates Nathaniel Jackson (132), Donald Conley (170) and Eric Berry (195) also participated in the tournament.
Mount Vernon Presbyterian’s Jonathan Hammond place third at 220. Blake Kytle (138) and Erik Doddler (182) also competed for the Mustangs.
Marist’s Dean Colton was third at 285 while Thomas Termini (106), J.T. Termini (138), Carson Hess (145) and Nolan Pozzoban (170) also represented the school at the state tournament.
Four wrestlers from St. Pius X were at the state tournament as well in the Class AAAA competition: Will Pentecost (120), Bishop Marshall (126), Sean Laubenthal (145) and Dominic Thomas (160).
The Class AAAAA competition featured four wrestlers from Riverwood in Alex Gruenig (132), Jeffrey Harris (145), Tim Stewart (152) and Nicolo Salvatori (170). North Atlanta’s Horton Wesley was in the 285-pound competition in Class AAAAAA.
The GHSA basketball state playoffs began with first-round competition Feb. 15. The second-round will take place today.
The boys’ Class A bracket saw Holy Innocents’ defeat Stratford Academy at home 70-57 in the first round, led by a team-high 22 points and six rebounds from Devin Farrell. Garrison Powell (13 points) and Chance Moore (11 points) also reached double-figures scoring while Landon Kardian grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds. The Golden Bears visited Mount Bethel in the second round.
Wesleyan defeated Trinity Christian 47-46 in the first round and visited Christian Heritage for its second-round tilt. Galloway saw its season conclude with a 67-56 loss at Pinecrest.
Westminster advanced to the second round in the Class AAA competition with a 53-50 victory at Jefferson. The Wildcats visited Dawson County in its next contest. Pace’s season concluded with a 54-50 loss to Hart County.
St. Pius X hosted Marist in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs. The Golden Lions defeated Cedartown 81-40 in its first-round contest while the War Eagles beat Lafayette 48-43. Woodward also advanced with a 72-65 win over Westover, hosting Cross Creek in the second round.
Riverwood dropped its home contest to Rome 60-55, and North Atlanta fell to Sequoyah 57-56 to round out boys’ first-round action.
The Class A Private girls’ bracket saw Holy Innocents’ and Wesleyan earn first-round byes. The Golden Bears hosted Greenforest and the Wolves welcomed Savannah Christian for their second-round tilts. Galloway’s season concluded with a 48-31 defeat to Darlington.
Lovett and Pace saw their squads get first-round wins in Class AAA. The Lions defeated Monroe Area 67-46, led by a team-high 25 points from Sydney Johnson, along with 18 points and team-high nine rebounds by Allie Ohde. The Knights got past East Jackson 42-37. Lovett hosted Dawson County and Pace visited Sonoraville in the second round.
Marist defeated Gilmer County 51-41 and St. Pius X got past Central (Carrollton) 42-35 to get to the second round. The War Eagles visited Madison County and the Golden Lions traveled to Flowery Branch in their next contests. Woodward’s season concluded with a 78-51 loss to Hardaway. Riverwood fell to Cass 63-57 in its first-round contest.
Holy Spirit Prep’s boys’ and girls’ teams each advanced to the semifinals of the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) Class AAA Tournament. The boys defeated Southland 60-39 in the first round Feb. 13 and John Milledge 57-36 in the quarterfinals Feb. 16. The girls’ squad opened its tournament with a 63-48 victory over Tiftarea and a 50-45 win over LaGrange in the quarters.
The state semifinals will take place Friday at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, with the Cougars’ boys facing Bulloch and the girls battling Southland.