MACON, Ga. - If Sam Snider ever needs to make a point about good sportsmanship, the Gilmer County wrestling coach need look no further than Saturday's GHSA Class AAAA state duals championship match.
The Bobcats won yet another team title, but it's how they won it that will stick with Snider and his team. Gilmer and Region 7 rival Cass, wrestling for the second time in a week, fought to a 30-30 tie after Tyuan Jett's overtime thrilling decision at heavyweight. However, Gilmer was declared the champion based on tiebreaking criteria, and in this case it came down to sportsmanship.
A Cass wrestler was earlier hit with an unsportsmanlike penalty for intentionally throwing an elbow against Gilmer 170-pounder Matthew Waddell. Waddell went on to win by 17-2 technical fall, but the impact of the penalty was felt long afterward.
"That was the first criteria, and we knew that going into our heavyweight match," Snider said. "We just had to avoid getting pinned once it got to overtime. It's a shame somebody had to lose, and we knew Cass was going to be even tougher than they were last week, but that's why the criteria is in the rule book."
The Colonels, who lost by 18 in the area finals last week, used a major decision from Matthew Walker at 126 and a pin from Rasheed Williams at 132 to forge a 17-3 lead after five bouts. Gilmer fought back with five consecutive wins, highlighted by Mel Mosley's 9-7 decision at 145 and Jaime Lopez's 6-4 overtime decision at 160 sandwiched around a pin from state champion Johnie Flakes at 152 and Waddell's tech at 170.
However, Cass's Cedric Jett, who did not wrestle a week ago, turned things back around with a pin at 182 to bring the Colonels within a a point at 24-23 before Gilmer senior Zach Allen answered with his own pin at 195 and a seven-point lead.
Gilmer would need it as Montavious Parker earned a four-point major decision at 220, setting up the heavyweight bout between Levi Seabolt and Jett. As Gilmer coaches poured over the rule book and checked their notes, Seabolt did what he had to do in regulation before losing on a quick takedown in overtime.
"We wouldn't have given up that takedown in overtime if we didn't already know we had the tiebreaker, so that was a great job by a freshman to hang in there with that kind of pressure," Snider said of Seabolt. "This was a great match and the guys fought very hard."
Allen echoed his coach's sentiments and gave some praise to his distraught opponent.
"It was tougher having to face them two weeks in a row, and they really came out to wrestle," Allen said. "All the hard work we've put in paid off today, and this is a great way to end my dual career."
Gordon Lee had hoped to join Gilmer in defending its title but had those hopes dashed in a Class A semifinal upset by Athens Christian. The Trojans, however, rallied Saturday to claim third place with wins over Region 6 rival Mount Zion, 54-28, and Turner County, 54-28.
Trojans coach Brent Raby was pleased with the way his team responded after falling short of its goal Friday.
"This is what we earned this weekend," said Raby, holding up the third-place trophy. "It's not the one we wanted, but it's the one we earned. I really felt we were the only team that could beat [champion] Commerce, but we lost a dogfight to Athens Christian. We're disappointed, but I believe the guys will grow from this and be ready for the traditional tournament."
In Class AAA, Sonoraville lost 39-28 to Morgan County in the consolation semifinals in the same manner the Phoenix won late Friday. With his team down five with one bout to go, Morgan County heavyweight Zach Jenkins sealed the win with a pin. Sonoraville had defeated Appling County by a point in its previous match when Hugo Hurtiz pinned his 220-pound opponent on the last match.
Other state champions crowned Saturday were Archer in Class AAAAAA, Pope in AAAAA, Buford in AAA and Jefferson in Class AA.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.