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Class 5A State Duals Preview

By Georgia Grappler, 01/20/22, 11:30AM AKST

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State Dual Finals this Weekend

State Dual Championship

Initial Reactions

- Only 5 of the 8 Regions are represented with Region 2, 5, and 6 not qualifying anyone to the Elite 8.  

- 3 teams qualified for the Elite 8 that did not qualify last season, Coffee, Jones Co, and Locust Grove.  The top 4 from 2021 all qualified this year, and they make up the top 4 seeds.

- Region 4 qualified three teams for the Elite 8, and Region 7 has the top two seeds in the bracket.  Region 1 qualified their 3rd place finisher, while they top two finisher were defeated in the sweet 16 by the overall 1 and 2 seeds.  You gotta love random bracket draws!?&%$

- The bracket sets up great with the top 4 teams getting the top 4 seeds and being separated in the bracket.  The semis and placement matches in this classification will be phenomenal.

1st Round

Cass vs Coffee: Cass was finally able to knock off arch rival Woodland in the Region Finals, but to truly get the monkey off their back they are going to need to do it at the State Duals.  By finishing 3rd at their Region Duals, Coffee was able to avoid Cass and Woodland in the sweet 16 and made their way to the Elite 8.  Cass will roll through this round to set up an epic semifinal match with Ola.

Ola vs Jackson Co:  The Mustangs would probably be a shoo in finalist at any other classifications, but in 5A they are the 4 seed.  They have a lineup that will give anyone fits, and they will contend for the State Championship. Ola did defeat Jackson Co last year in the consolation semifinals by a score of 55-9.  Jackson Co surprised many by knocking off Harris Co in the Sweet 16, they are always tough in the lower weights and the middle weights, and this season is no different.  However that goes right at the strength of this Ola squad, and it will not end well for the Panthers.

Woodward Academy vs Jones Co:  I was set and ready to go last year for an epic super match finals between Woodward and Woodland, but Cass had other ideas and defeated Woodward 42-37 in the semis.  Jones Co had a great Region tournament to put them in position to get to the Elite 8, and they came through in the Prelims, but they will not be able to get past this Woodward team.

Woodland, Cartersville vs Locust Grove:  This match will feature several very good individual matchups, particularly in the lower weights.  However in the end Woodland will prevail through the strength that they have from top to bottom in their lineup.  In 2021 Woodland had arguably the best team in the history of Georgia wrestling, they graduated a several pieces from that squad, but this team is still formidable. 

Semifinals

Cass vs Ola:  For anyone that things Cass and Woodland will just waltz into another rematch in the State Finals, Ola and Woodward would like to have a word.  Cass is not a shoe in to win this match, bit teams have weaknesses that can be exploited and both teams have strengths that can not be overcome by the other team.  This match has several potential matchups that could ultimately decide the entire dual.  The team that is best able to get the matchups they desire either through winning the flip or with lineup flexibility, will win this Dual.

Potential Matchups: Obviously this could and will change based on coaches moving people around to optimize their lineups.
106- Lee Camp vs Sal Cornnachia/Braylen Holsenback
113- AJ Piatt vs Sal Cornnachia/Braylen Holsenback
120- Cole Hunt vs Ethan Johnson/Mason Worsham
126- Jake Crapps vs Ethan Johnson/Mason Worsham
132- Hunter Barrett vs Conner Kimbrough
138- Bryce Kresho vs Reese Jones
145- Tyler McKnight/Elijah Doolittle vs Sam Harris
152- Tyler McKnight/Elijah Doolittle vs Ayden Hecht
160- Kirecg Roe vs Sam Turner
170- Zach McKnight vs Caleb Fordham/Zion Smith
182- Parker Dunn vs Caleb Fordham/Zion Smith
195- Tripp Adams vs Braydon Fordham
220- William Buttrum vs Connor O'Neill/Chris Ramos
285- Anthony Alcazar vs Patrick Nollman

Lots to dissect here, but in a straight up match I see it 6/5 in favor of Cass with 3 HUGE tossups at 138 between Kresho and Jones, 182 between Dunn and someone, and 195 between Adams and Fordham.  However this match will be decided by who is able to bump and where.  Both teams will have lineup moves available to them throughout the dual, which coach is going to have the knowledge (probably both) and the guts to make the move.  What in match situations are going to occur to force a move or force someone not to be able to make a move?  I would absolutely love to be able to coach in this dual.  I have Cass winning by 1, but the key to this entire dual will be what happens between 138 and 160.

Woodland vs Woodward Academy:  Another unbelievable semifinal that will feature a little less lineup flexibility, but some tremendous star power.  Woodland lost 51-24 in the Region Dual Finals to Cass, that result was very surprising to me, not the loss, but the margin and I would love to see the box score of that match.  With that score coupled with a little browsing of Woodland's weigh in sheets for the past 2 weeks, it appears that something is amiss with their team.  I am not sure if it's injuries, covid concerns, weight trouble or a combination of all of the above, however I am confident that their coaching staff will do everything in their power to get it straightened out for this weekend.

Potential Matchups: Obviously this could and will change based on coaches moving people around to optimize their lineups.
106- Marvin Hernandez vs Hayden Fritts
113- Blake Martin vs Colby McBride
120- Hayden Santora vs Heath Augustyn
126- William Bishop vs Hunter Block/Tommy Cavanaugh
132- Carson Bailey vs Tristen Hill
138- Randy Buchanan vs Ryan Seeb
145- Zachary Wallace vs Ian Wallace
152- Caleb Henson vs Michael Kilic
160- Colby Cochran vs Gunner Filipowicz
170- Brandon Montes vs Ayden Lightner
182- Jeremiah Rhodes? vs Matthew SIngleton
195- Charles Higdon vs Ben Valdes
220- Keadrus Wilson vs Cahron Houston
285- Beau Jernigan vs Jaylin Tate

I have this as an even 6/6 split with 2 toss up matches, but there are several things that stand out when I look over these rosters.  First, what is each team going to do through the middle weights.  This is one of those rare moments where two teams strengths match up perfectly with one another.  How will each team attack the matchups and which team will be able to get the matchups that most benefit their team.  Secondly, where has Jeremiah Rhodes been for Woodland, we haven't seen him weigh in since before Christmas, he is desperately needed for Woodland to be able to hold Singleton in place.  With all the star power in this dual (13 State Placer) could the winner really hinge on two relative unknowns at 220?  My gut is telling me Woodland will be able to pull this one out, but everything I have on paper says Woodward takes the win.  I'm going to stick with my gut.

Consolation Rounds
Jackson Co over Coffee
Jones Co over Locust Grove

Woodward over Jackson Co
Ola over Locust Grove

Consolation Finals
Woodward Academy vs Ola: I feel like we could see any combination of the top 4 teams in this match up and in the Finals. Woodward matches up very well with Ola, possibly even better than Cass matches up with them.  Ola is going to score well in the lower middle weights, but for them to win duals, they have to practically sweep the middle weights and pick up a couple of matches in the upper weights.  Against Woodward's trio of nationally ranked wrestlers at 152, 160, and 182, Ola isnt going to be able to sweep the weights that they usually do.  Woodward has just enough in the upper weights to prevent Ola from picking up too many matches there, making this matchup a nightmare for the Mustangs.

Final Score: Woodward Academy 35   Ola 26

State Championship Dual
Cass vs Woodland:
106- Lee Camp vs Marvin Hernandez
113- AJ Piatt vs Blake Martin
120- Cole Hunt vs Hayden Santora
126- Jake Crapps vs William Bishop
132- Hunter Barrett vs Carson Bailey
138- Bryce Kresho vs Randy Buchanan
145- Tyler McKnight/Elijah Doolittle vs Zachary Wallace
152- Tyler McKnight/Elijah Doolittle vs Caleb Henson
160- Kirecg Roe vs Colby Cochran
170- Zach McKnight vs Brandon Montes
182- Parker Dunn vs Jeremiah Rhodes
195- Tripp Adams vs Charles Higdon
220- William Buttrum vs Kwadrus Wilson
285- Anthony Alcazar vs Beau Jernigan

The margin of victory in the State Finals will be significantly less than what it was in the Region finals, that is a promise.  I say that in total confidence because Woodland will have either fixed their issues, or Woodward will be in the finals across from Cass.  I have this as a 6/6 split with two toss ups at 182 and 220.  Cass looks to have a little bit more lineup flexibility, but let's be honest, these teams know each other so well that they both know what the other side is going to do, so there shouldn't be any surprises.  If we get to a 7/7 split, obviously things will come down to bonus points, if that's the case I give the edge to Woodland, however Cass will win the Championship if Woodland isn't whole or they can win both 182 and 220.

Final Score: Woodland 33   Cass 32

On a side note if the finals ends up pitting Cass vs Woodward, I have Woodward winning 34-29

Top 4
1. Woodland, Cartersville
2. Cass
3. Woodward Academy
4. Ola

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