ELLIJAY, Ga. — The Georgia Area 6-AAAA wrestling traditional tournament followed a familiar script Saturday as host Gilmer flexed its muscle under new coach Josh Ghabadpoor.
The Bobcats qualified 12 of their 14 wrestlers into next weekend's sectional round and had six individual champions while scoring 214 points. Pickens was a distant second with 121 points and had three champions.
Heritage, despite not having an individual champion, was third with 115.5 points and qualified nine wrestlers for the Class AAAA "A" sectional at Woodward Academy. The Generals were hampered as Jeffery Curtis, the top seed at 220 pounds, had to default for fourth place due to illness.
"That hurt us as far as team points goes," Heritage coach Mike Craft said. "We would have gotten second otherwise, but we got a lot through."
Ridgeland was fourth with 108 points and had five sectional qualifiers. Though the Panthers had individual champions in Jordan Hughley (138), Jacob Mariakis (145) and Ryan McGill (170), coach Keith Mariakis was not pleased with the overall outcome as his team lost several close bouts that kept it from having more qualifiers.
"Our three champions wrestled like they were expected to wrestle, but we had some kids lose in the money round to kids they had already beaten," he said. "But next week is a new one. Our three kids who won it have legitimate shots at putting themselves into the state finals."
Ridgeland was followed by Northwest Whitfield in fifth with seven qualifiers, Southeast Whitfield with four qualifiers — including 106-pound champion Riso Webb — and LaFayette with five qualifiers and a champion in Cody Deal (220).
-The most competitive area tournament of the weekend was 6-AAA at Bremen, where Sonoraville emerged as the team title winner with 217.5 points and kept Bremen (185.5) from repeating as champion.
The Phoenix qualified eight wrestlers for the sectional round, including seven area champions — Eli Knight (106), Hector Arbos (113), Allen Stone (120), Jayce Derryberry (126), Tyler Hunt (132), Trevor Burdick (138) and Charlie Brown (182).
"We keep saying it's the best area, and again it proved it," said Sonoraville coach Randy Steward, who also qualified second-place finisher John Knight (195). "I think this weekend we were a better traditional team. It was nice to get seven champions, and we feel very good about it.
"At 113 we had a senior who had been hurt, Gavin Thompson, and our backup, Hector Arbos, was seeded fourth and wins it. That was a big deal. It says something about the program, to me. I'm as excited as I can be for him."
Bremen, Calhoun and Coahulla Creek each qualified five wrestlers, while Ringgold, fifth in team points, qualified four, including 145-pound champ Griffin Green. Coahulla Creek had a champion in Daniel Lopez (220) and four second-place finishers.
"This is a meat grinder of an area," Coahulla Creek coach Brent Raby said. "There were a lot of state-place winners (from last season) that won't be going on — some really, really good wrestlers being left at home."
-Chattooga won the 3-AA title at Armuchee, earning 202 points to edge the host school by four. Brian Beasley's team had a pair of individual champions in Griffin Jarrett (106), who won state last season, and Alex Mears (195). The Indians also had four individual runners-up and qualified eight wrestlers.
-Trion rolled to the 3-A title at Darlington and qualified all 14 of its wrestlers. Bolen Stricklin (120), Cole Luallen (145) and Logan Blevins (195) earned individual titles for the Bulldogs, who scored 215 team points.
Darlington was second with 158 points and Gordon Lee (120) third. The Trojans qualified seven wrestlers, including champions Hunter Burnette (106) and Braden Jarvis (170).
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.