By Brian Paglia
Henry County wrestling coach Marty Hutsell will be glad to see the Warhawks move up in classification next year where they won't have to contend with Jefferson ever again.
Henry County finished second in the Class AA traditional state tournament with 175 points, well behind state champion Jefferson (270), had two individual state champions and six placers all together.
The Warhawks put forth the best showing of a Southern Crescent team at the traditional state tournament Saturday at the Arena of Gwinnett.
"We knew it was going to be almost impossible to beat Jefferson," Hutsell said, "but we are happy with the way we performed."
Sophomore Dalvin Tomlinson (285 pounds) defeated Hunter Rich of Lovett in a 6-1 decision to capture a state title in his first year of varsity wrestling.
Hutsell attributed Tomlinson's development to junior heavyweight Bobby Taylor and Hutsell's brother and assistant coach, Doug.
"It was my brother Doug and Bobby Taylor that helped make Dalvin a state champion," Hutsell said. "He's such a great athlete. I've had heavyweight state champions before, but Dalvin's the greatest athlete I've ever had at 285 pounds."
Warhawks junior Jake Orozco (130) outlasted Jonas Abraham of Jordan in a 3-1 decision in the finals to claim a state title after taking up the sport as a freshman.
"He's a fierce competitor," Hutsell said.
Brett Yarbrough (112) placed second for Warhawks, Shaydarious Slaughter (125) placed third, Bruce James (103) placed fourth and Darold Alexander (145) placed sixth.
Their return next season -- Henry County returns 11 starters in all -- should catapult the Warhawks into contention as a top-3 team in Class AAA, where they won't have to worry about Jefferson.
"I'm glad we go up," Hutsell said. "I just think everybody's going to keep chasing Jefferson. They reload every year. I'm looking forward to next year." Wildcats have strong first showing
Locust Grove coach Nick Fordham knew his first-year Wildcats were a superior traditional team than duals team, and they showed it Saturday.
The Wildcats finished eighth in Class AAA with 81.50 points, well behind state champion Gilmer (197). But it was a strong showing nonetheless.
Three wrestlers placed for Locust Grove. Zack Brown (130) placed fifth, while Sorrows brothers Bryan (140) and Blake (145) placed fourth in their respective weight classes.
Woodland's Justine Kerce (119) placed fourth.
Mustangs make most of
Ola had grand expectations entering the season, yet by the time the traditional state tournament arrived they had been overshadowed by injuries and scandal.
Still, the Mustangs managed a top-10 finish in Class AAAA, finishing sixth overall with 80 points. Alexander won the title with 127.50 points.
Joey Carman, a state runner-up last season at 215, came up short of an individual title again, falling in a 5-2 decision to Logan Winkles of Upson-Lee.
Senior Tim Feltman (189) placed third for the Mustangs, while Peyton Durflinger (103) placed fifth.
Shakeno Jenkins (130) placed sixth for Stockbridge.
Wolverines' Gamble surprises competition
Union Grove coach Joey DiNino said Hunter Gamble had looked good in practice all week leading up to the traditional state tournament. So the sophomore's runner-up finish at 152 pounds to Tsvetomir Petrushev (Peachtree Ridge) didn't surprise the Wolverines coach.
"He looked good all week at practice," DiNino said, "so this weekend's performance didn't surprise me. I'm elated about how Hunter wrestled this weekend."
Gamble lost a 3-2 decision to Petrushev to finish the season 45-5.
DiNino also said Gamble impressed many with his conduct after matches. Some fans even made a point of complimenting the sportsmanship of Gamble, who made a point of acknowledging his opponents and their families after each match.
"Hunter exemplifies what this program is all about," DiNino said.