The Gilmer High School Bobcats wrestling team secured its 12th state title, winning the AAAA State Duals Tournament with a breathtaking 31-30 win over the Cass Colonels. It was the second time in as many weeks that the “Cats” and Colonels clashed, the Bobcats beat Cass 36-18 in the Area Duals Finals. The incredibly close win came after the two teams tied, 30-30, after all final match tally. Gilmer was awarded the Dual and subsequently the State Title due to a Cass wrestler elbowing Matthew Waddell during the 170lbs match.The three day tournament kicked off with the number one seeded “Cats” facing Fayatte County first. The Bobcats scalped the Indians 51-9, with three pins, including one by Drew Dyer in his first varsity match of the season, Tyler Bertolini and Dusty Lacy scored the other two.
The second round saw Gilmer go up against Glen Hills. The “Cats” clobbered the Spartans, 55-18, despite Glen Hills doubling the Indians previous round total points scored. Five different Bobcats scored pins: Levi Seabolt, Jacob Harrison, Daniel Bautista, Cameron Perry, and Waddell.
The win set up a semi-finals match with upstart Chestatee, who beat Locust Grove, 49-26, in the first round and upset Marist, 33-30, in the second round. The semifinal match up also proved to be a reunion of sorts, as former GHS assistant wrestling coach, and head baseball coach, Kyle Barr is a member of the Chestatee coaching staff.
The “Cats” clipped the War Eagles’ wings with a 45-16 dismantling that set up the aforementioned finals match up with the Colonels. Gilmer jumped out to a 15-0 lead before Chestatee scored its first team point, and a 34-3 lead before the War Eagles won a second match.
The finals match up with the Colonels proved to be one for the ages as the not only did the match come down to “criteria” but it was the last Finals Match to finish, and therefore ended with all in attendance at the Macon Coliseum, wrestlers and spectators watching with baited breath for the final Finals outcome.
Gilmer head coach, Sam Snider, predicted that the Cass Colonels would be a likely State Duals Finals opponent, after the Bobcats beat Cass, 36-18, in the 7-AAAA Area Duals Finals. The Finals face-off was the fourth match-up between the two teams. Gilmer has won all four.
“I think this Cass team is high quality and will be very difficult to beat, and I can expect to see them in the State Finals.”
The Colonels came ready for war, taking the first match at 106, with a 12-2 major victory (more than seven match point win) worth four team points. Alberto Perez cut the lead to one, 4-3, with a 7-4 match win at 113.
Cass kept, and increased, the lead by winning the next three matches, via minor, major and pin. The streak saw the Bobcats trail 17-3 before Cameron Perry’s match at 138.
Perry closed the gap with a decisive 9-1 major win, that cut the deficit to 10, 17-7. Mel “The Fireman” Mosley followed Perry with a hard fought 9-7 minor win that cut the lead to seven, 17-10.
A pin by Johnie Flakes at 152 saw the “Cats” creep to within one point, 17-6. Jamie Lopez, battling through a knee injury suffered during the Glenn Hills dual, gave Gilmer its first lead of the finals, with a 6-4 overtime victory at 160.
Lopez led by one point in the final seconds of regulation before a match tying “stalling” point was awarded to Cass with 13 seconds left in the third period. Lopez secured the overtime victory with a take down in the first overtime period. The win gave Gilmer a 19-17 lead.
The 170 match proved to be the title winner for Gilmer, despite four more matches occurring afterward. Matthew Waddell’s “technical pin,” or “tech” (occurring after a wrestler has accrued a 15 point match lead) victory, 17-2, added five more team points to Gilmer’s total and increased the Bobcats’ lead to 24-17.
The Dual winner, came via an elbow received by Waddell from his Cass counterpart. The elbow resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct call on Cass, and ultimately cost the Colonels the first “criteria” tie breaker.
A Cass pin at 182 cut the Gilmer lead to one, 24-23; however, Zach Allen answered with a pin of his own at 195, pushing the Gilmer lead to seven, 30-23.
The Colonels cut into the lead again with a major decision at 220. The Colonels faced a three point, 30-27, deficit going into the final Finals match of the day, the heavyweight division match.
With the previous four Finals matches having reached conclusion, all eyes were on the “Cats” and Colonels as the final Finals Duals of the day came down to the last match. The Colonels needed a major win (four team points) or a pin (six team points) to secure the win.
Fittingly the weight class that carried the weight of the championship was the heavyweight class, and the Gilmer Bobcats turned to freshman Levi Seabolt. Going into the match, Snider, conscious of the aforementioned unsportsmanlike penalty on Cass, and knowing that would be the first tie breaker, instructed Levi to worry about winning the match second, and to avoid a major loss or pin at all costs.
Seabolt got an early take down for an early 2-0 match lead; however, the lead did not last, as Cass scored two points to tie the match. Each wrestler earned three more points throughout the match, ending the regulation period with a 5-5 tie, and forcing an overtime period.
A Cass takedown won the match, 7-5, for the Colonels and ended the Dual with a 30-30 tie, leading to the Gilmer win via “criteria” after the unsportsmanlike penalty assessed against Cass in the Waddell match.
Despite the costly Cass elbow, the Bobcats would have prevailed without the unsportsmanlike, as the first tie breaker is number of pins. The “Cats” claimed three, by Perry, Flakes, and Allen, while the Colonels claimed two.
Afterward Snider spoke about the intense match up with Cass, and in particular the strategy going into the Seabolt match.
“The kids got the bonus points necessary to get us to this point and then Levi our freshman battled to a five (to) five (match). Went into overtime, he and I both knew if he lost and didn’t get pinned or by a major we would win because the other kid in another round (170) had elbowed us and it added a fault on that. So the criteria was in our favor, it was exciting to see the kids understand the situation so well and for us to pull out a win like that’s awesome.”
He also spoke about the risk reward aspect of the final match and how he had to balance having Seabolt going for the match win without risking a Cass pin or major decision.
“He rolled the kid one time to his back to get the back points and we thought that was good but let’s say he tries that role and gets put in a half. We’re not going to do that a second time. So the whole third period, we’re working for an escape (worth one match point). Keep our head up, get in a situation where we don’t get pinned, and if we go into overtime we’re going to go ahead give it up and win the team thing, and let Levi beat that kid at traditional.”
The win marked the 56th Dual win for the Bobcats out of 64. Snider spoke about looking forward to the State Traditional Tournament (where wrestlers compete by weight class), held next month, and a possible 13th GHS wrestling State Championship.
“A couple of moves are being made by kids to get in the right place for traditional. That will help our team be stronger at traditional, because we have a log jam at a couple of weight classes so we’re preparing for that (State Traditional Tournament) have been preparing for that for several months and I think that we’ll do very well at traditional because they’re hungry for individual tournaments. We have not had one individual tournament because until this point, it’s strictly about the team concept. And now that we understand team, I believe at traditional they’re willing to go out there and fight for their lives to score at the traditional and try to win as a team again.”
The 2014 AAAA State Duals Title, marks the 12th team title for the Bobcats, and the 13th personal state title for Snider, who won a state title as a student wrestler at Gilmer High School.
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