For the first time ever, Cass Middle School is the state champion.
After three consecutive runner-up finishes, the Cass Middle School wrestling team won the school’s first state championship in any sport as the team went 4-0 at Gilmer High School Saturday to take the title.
“I’m super proud of the kids,” head coach Justin Martin said. “This is my first year as the head coach here. I’ve been an assistant the past five years. They’ve gotten second the past three years. When I was hired here, that was one of the things Principal Kristy Arnold told me is we wanted to get over the second-place hump. ... It’s one of those things that you’ll never forget.”
It is the first state championship for any Bartow County middle school wrestling program, and this year’s team went 20-0, never losing a dual.
In the 24-team state championship tournament Saturday, Cass went 4-0 without a team coming within 25 points. Cass defeated Adairsville in its first dual, 58-33. Cass then defeated West Laurens in the quarterfinals by a score of 62-30, before taking down Gilmer in the semifinals, 58-24. In the finals, Cass dispatched of Tift County by a score of 61-30.
“The kids really surprised me,” Martin said of the championship performance. “I thought we had a really good shot to win, but I thought it would be one of those 6-8 point matches. But our kids showed up and just showed that we are the best team in the state and left no doubt.”
Every one of Cass’ wrestlers finished with a winning record in the tournament. Iaasic Linley in the 70-pound weight class, Dawson Cornett at 90 pounds, Reed Davis at 155 and Aeristeo Perez at 215 all went undefeated, while Cameron Hill had a strong performance in the 170-pound weight class.
Cornett won the national championship as an individual two weeks prior to the state championship.
“Dawson set the pace for us during Christmas break, and we had a lot of guys cutting weight to bump our lineup around,” Martin said. “So we didn’t know how we’d compete this weekend. You have kids coming in overweight and have been on vacation for a week, so it was kind of hectic for us.”
Unlike the high school season, the middle school season is wrapping up as Cass will end its season this weekend in the region tournament.