Undefeated 32 matches into his senior season, Southeast Whitfield High School wrestler Austin Allen had a chance to win the 182-pound weight class and defeat a former state champion — all in one match — at Saturday’s Carpet Classic at Dalton High School.
The host Catamounts’ Sidney Wheeler got the better of him.
Allen promises the result will be different next time.
Wheeler trailed 4-1 early in the final period but Allen’s fatigue allowed Wheeler, the 2012 Class 3A state champion, to earn three late takedowns and a 9-6 victory in the finals. Wheeler helped the Cats win their home tourney for the second time in three years, while Southeast’s Raiders finished second in the 13-team field.
Dalton earned 180 points, 25 ahead of Southeast, while Sonoraville (143.5) was third. Coahulla Creek (141), Gordon Lee (131.5), Rome (130.5), Armuchee (104), Murray County (100), North Murray (89), Pickens (66), Heritage-Catoosa’s junior varsity team (17), Morris Innovative (9) and Dade County (7) rounded out the field.
Behind three points in the last period, Wheeler allowed Allen to escape, giving up one point so he could go for two-point takedowns. The strategy worked and Wheeler ended Allen’s chances with near-fall points as time expired.
“I just don’t get tired that easy,” Wheeler said. “He was beating me at the beginning, but my endurance prevailed and I took control in the third period.”
Wheeler believes he will see Allen again when the two compete in the Area 7-4A traditional tournament at the end of January, so long as Allen doesn’t change weight classes.
Allen said the rematch will happen.
“I’m not dropping,” he said. “I’m fine with losing to him now. After facing him, I know exactly what he’ll do, how he sets up his stuff. I know everything about him. I was working him in the first two periods. It was just fatigue.”
Dalton coach Michael Keefe said a younger version of Wheeler may not have triumphed after being behind.
“Austin is a tough competitor,” he said. “Sidney just doesn’t give up.”
Southeast coach Michael Herndon said Allen made mistakes and played to Wheeler’s strengths.
“It wasn’t a smart match,” he said. “Those are the things you work on, and we’ll get better.”
Dalton and Southeast were the only local squads with weight-class champions. Dylan Carlile (132) and Brian Nuñez (138) were Dalton’s other champs besides Wheeler. Omar Ruiz (120) and Tyler Brown (145) won for the Raiders.
Entering the consolation and championship finals, Sonoraville was second behind Dalton. Carlile and Nunez each won against a Sonoraville wrestler.
“In my match,” Carlile said, “I thought, ‘Oh, second place isn’t that bad.’ Then I thought, ‘ Wait a minute. Second place of my own tournament? I’ve never won this tournament.
“Winning this was huge. Mine and Brian’s wins helped a lot.”
Dalton’s other placers were Werner Braun (170, third), Matthew Tankersley (106, fourth), Augustine Adame (113, fourth), Jake Reeves (120, fourth) and Cesar Santos (145, fourth). Placing for Southeast were Noah Bartenfield (106, second), Dylan Burch (152, third), Garrett McClure (285, third) and Chris Rosas 126, fourth).
Coahulla Creek had eight wrestlers place. Joseph Long (152) was second, Levi Kinsey (106), Gaspar Andres (113), Labron Kendrick (145) and Zion Hester (195) finished third, while Austin Coker (160), Alex Hefner (172) and Christopher Lansing (182) finished fourth.
“Gaspar wrestled some of the best matches he has,” Coahulla Creek coach Anthony Thomas said. “We’ve had other kids getting better.”
Domingo Bautista (113) and Noah Patton (285) each placed second for Murray County, which also had Seth Gilbert (220, third) and Logan England (195, fourth) place.
“We brought 10 kids and had four place,” Murray County coach Chris Thornbury said. “We felt we should’ve had more. But when you see the things exposed, it allows you to work on them and get better.”
Placing for North Murray were Ethan Center (160, third), Micha Burgess (138, fourth), Ethan Martin (220, fourth) and Emmanuel Jacobo (285, fourth).
“All in all, it was pretty good,” North Murray coach Steve Colley said. “We’re trying to get our guys ready for the individual tournaments and area tournament at the end of next month.”
Morris Innovative had three wrestlers compete, and Jason Marquez (285) won his quarterfinals match early in the day. He had a chance to place, but lost to McClure in the consolation semifinals.