The Woodland wrestling team was hoping to break a streak of four consecutive runner-up finishes in the state duals Saturday when the Wildcats took on Camden County in the state duals finals.
Unfortunately for the ’Cats, they had to settle for their fifth consecutive runner-up finish, while Cass took third to cap another impressive duals season for Bartow County wrestling teams.
Camden County, the No. 28-ranked team in the nation, defeated Woodland by a score of 59-8 in the finals, while Cass topped Clarke Central by a score of 50-15 in the consolation bracket finals Saturday.
’Cats place second
Saturday’s appearance marked the sixth consecutive trip to the state duals finals for Woodland, but the ’Cats were unable to get over the hump and win their first state duals championship since 2011.
Woodland still placed second, falling to Camden County in a rematch of last year’s finals by a score of 59-8.
“We knew that they’re ranked 28th in the country for a reason,” Woodland head coach Adrian Tramutola said of Camden County. “I’m still proud of our guys and what we’ve accomplished being here six years in a row. Not a lot of teams can say that.”
In Saturday’s finals, Dawson Woods and Logan Sims each won their matches in the 126- and 132-pound weight classes, respectively, drawing Woodland as close as 9-8 behind Camden County. However, from there, Camden was able to win each match the rest of the way, including seven pins in the final nine matches.
“We got beat tonight. We got ran through and it wasn’t even close,” Tramutola said. “They’re a good team.”
Tramutola said he had hoped for more points out of his lower weight classes to keep Woodland in the match.
“I take responsibility for that. I made a bump where I thought we would be better suited and it backfired on us,” Tramutola said of not getting as many points from the lower weight classes. “When it didn’t go our way early, I think it kind of brought us down a little bit. But at the end of the day, you still have 14 matches. Other guys have to come out and wrestle.”
Woodland reached the finals this year by going 3-0 in Macon. The Wildcats began the tournament as the No. 2 seed in Class 5A, and defeated Effingham County 57-18 in the first round Thursday. They then took down Jones County, 53-18, in the second round Friday. In the semifinals, Woodland defeated Allatoona by a score of 56-12.
For the Woodland seniors, the runner-up finish may be bittersweet.
“I hate it for them because they’ve been here four years in a row,” Tramutola said of his seniors. “You may be able to talk to millions of seniors who never made it here ever, maybe never even wrestled in the [state tournament]. So for four consecutive years to come here and win region titles and get to the finals, it says a lot about their character and their work ethic.”
Woodland looks to come back strong in the traditional season, where the team is also coming off a runner-up finish to Camden County from last season.
“It didn’t go our way [Saturday], but there’s still a lot to wrestle for,” Tramutola said. “We have the traditionals coming up. We have to come back strong, and there’s still a lot to wrestle for — lot of individual titles, region titles, team titles still on the table.
“I’m proud of what they did. At the end of the day, it’s high school wrestling. I still love them win or lose.”
Colonels avenge loss
After a one-point loss to Clarke Central Friday, the Colonels were able to avenge their loss Saturday in the third-place match, defeating Clarke Central by a score of 50-15.
“Going out winning your last match at state duals is always a bonus. So we’re happy with that,” Cass head coach D.L. Koontz said. “We had a chance to right a wrong because Clarke Central put us in the loser’s bracket. Obviously, the boys came through in a big fashion. Yesterday, Clarke Central got a lot of breaks. This time, some things seemed to go our way.”
Cass went 5-1 in the tournament, and also defeated Allatoona in the consolation semifinals Saturday morning to reach the consolation finals against Clarke Central. Cass defeated Allatoona, 29-25.
Koontz said his whole lineup made the difference in Saturday’s match with Clarke Central compare to the previous day’s.
“It was a total team effort,” Koontz said. “Even if they lost at duals, it’s big to minimize the damage. Sometimes, that’s all we need in matches is guys to give up a minor and not give up a major or get pinned. That really came into play with the Allatoona duals as well. Some guys’ record was better than the others, but it was a total team effort to get third.”
Earlier in the tournament, after coming in as the No. 5 seed, Cass defeated Dunwoody, 35-25. Cass then lost a close one to Clarke Central by a score of 29-28 to send the Colonels into the consolation round. The following match saw Cass top Heritage, Conyers by a score of 49-18. In Cass’ final match Friday, the Colonels defeated Starr’s Mill, 47-18, before wining both of the team’s duals Saturday.
Koontz said his team came together and wrestled its best by the end of the tournament.
“I was pleased with [the Clarke Central dual] because we lost by one yesterday with them, and to go out and win 50-18, it’s bitter sweet in that you lose by one, but you can do this when all your guys are firing on all cylinders and wrestling to their ability. We fully expected to wrestle Camden when we came in, and that was no slight to anybody else in our bracket. That’s who we wanted to see in the semifinals. That’s who we expected to see. You always want a shot at the [state champs].”
Cass improved in this year’s state duals over last year’s fourth-place finish, and the Colonels will look to do the same in the upcoming traditional season.
“The state tried to even out the sectionals a little bit. They moved Area 5, which is Allatoona, South Paulding, Alexander, all of them have been moved to the east. So it’s not us knocking each other out,” Koontz said of Cass’ prospects in the traditional season. “You still have us, Woodland, Cambridge, Creekview, Rome’s got some pretty good kids. So we’re all going to battle each other two weeks in a row. ... It’s going to be tough. I think we can qualify more than we did last year. Hopefully, we’ll place a little higher than we did last year as well.”