By Brian Paglia
The Jefferson wrestling team had won nine straight state traditional titles coming into this year's wrestling championships, and Henry County is doing all it can to keep pace with the Dragons.
As of press time Friday night, the Warhawks were second in the Class AA overall standings with 106 points. Jefferson leads with 134.
The three-day tournament ends today starting at 10:00 a.m. The finals are scheduled for 5 p.m.
Henry County had five wrestlers advance to the Class AA semifinals in Bruce James (103 pounds), Brett Yarbrough (112), Shaydarious Slaughter (125), Jake Orozco (130) and Dalvin Tomlinson (285). Oddly, none face off against a wrestler from Jefferson.
Wolverines looking up
Collins Hill all but assured itself a third-straight state title. The Eagles ended the night first in the standings with 168 points ahead of Camden (98.5) and Pope (98). Collins Hill put 11 of its 14 wrestlers in the semifinals.
That left Union Grove, a darkhorse threat in recent seasons, trailing far behind. The Wolverines were 13th after Friday with 32 points.
Hunter Gamble (152) was the lone Wolverines wrestler to advance to the Class AAAAA semifinals. Gamble defeated Bo Viness of East Paulding in the quarterfinals and will face Jamie Hertica of Collins Hill.
Alex Lazor (130) lost a close 3-2 decision to Austin Trott of Camden County in the quarterfinals. Lazor will face Ramone Durr of Valdosta in the losers bracket.
Clayton wrestlers survive
Few teams from Clayton County managed to make any noise in the team standings Friday, but that didn't stop several individual wrestlers from moving on.
Jonesboro's Michael Carlisle (215) was a state runner-up last season and he's on his way to reaching the finals again. Carlisle survived a close 8-7 decision over Trey Nordone of Marist to advance to the Class AAAA semifinals.
Carlisle will face Tracy Jewett of Hardaway.
Other Clayton wrestlers to advance to the semifinals were Lovejoy's Giovanne Ortiz (140) and Mundy's Mill's Courtney Freeman (215).
Mustangs' Carman moves on
Senior Ola wrestler Joey Carman came up just short of a Class AAAA state title last year at 215 pounds. He's getting closer to one as a heavyweight.
Carman, who signed with Davidson, advanced to the semifinals against Christian Sidwell of South Paulding with a pin in 4:30 of Dalton's Logan Harr in the quarterfinals.
Ola also had Peyton Durflinger (103) advance to the semifinals, and Stockbridge had Shakeno Jenkins (130) qualify.
Wolfpack's Kerce represents
Locust Grove and Woodland came into the Class AAA tournament with wrestlers they expected could threaten for state titles.
But the only one left standing was Woodland's Justin Kerce (119). He advanced to the Class AAA semifinals against Jacob Akins of Morgan County.