Sports

February 1, 2014

Area wrestling: New and old storylines on the mat for locals

Southeast Whitfield’s Austin Allen and Dalton’s Sidney Wheeler facing one another has happened before — and may happen again.

A Coahulla Creek wrestler winning an area title? That’s a first.

Clay Thornbury winning an area championship? Another accomplishment that hasn’t occurred before.

And a Morris Innovative wrestler advancing to sectionals? Make it a trifecta of new occurrences.

Francisco Sanchez took the 113-pound championship at the Area 2-3A duals, held at Central-Carrollton High School, to become the first in Coahulla Creek’s 3-year-old program to bring home a championship. At the Area 3-2A duals at Lovett High School in Atlanta, Murray County’s Clay Thornbury (195) accomplished his own first, winning an area title, and Morris Innovative’s Jason Marquez (285) placed third as the program’s first varsity wrestler continued his senior season.

But the anticipated matchup featuring two local wrestlers was at Cass High School, where Allen and Wheeler once again faced for the 182-pound title. This time for an Area 7-4A championship, Wheeler made it two in a row in the rivalry as both advanced to next weekend’s sectionals tournament at Fayette County High School, where a spot in the state bracket is on the line.

Also in the Area 7-4A duals, Northwest Whitfield qualified seven wrestlers, the most of any local school, for sectionals. Jordan Pittman (170) was the Bruins’ lone area champion.

The top four from each weight class advance to the sectional tournaments. When Allen and Wheeler faced, it wasn’t to advance. They aimed for first place.

The two faced off at the Carpet Classic tournament in December, when Wheeler eliminated a 4-1 deficit in the third quarter and won 9-6. This time, Wheeler won 13-8 for the area championship after each put the other on his back during the match.

Allen said after the first loss he anticipated at least one rematch — and Wheeler said after Saturday’s encounter, “He got it.”

Wheeler is a three-peat area champion and won the Class 3A state championship in 2012.

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