Westfield wrestling head coach Mike Thompson knew that winning the GISA tournament for a second straight time would not be an easy feat. But bolstered by some unexpected first-day performances Friday, the Hornets are poised to once again challenge for the title.
They are currently in second place, only two points behind Bulloch Academy.
We have trained hard all season and have wrestled a very difficult schedule with three out-of-state tournaments, and this is the time where we want to wrestle our best, Thompson said. We still have to have a great day (Saturday), but we like where we are after the first day.
Westfield put 10 wrestlers into the semifinals, while Bulloch has eight. Josh Kinnebrew, Dayton Hammerle, Ben Brooks, Chandler Bohannon, Josh Jenkins, Griffen Cawthon, Connor Cawthon and Walker Davidson all advanced as Thompson expected them to. But the Hornets got surprise performances from Zach Johnson and Alex Myatt.
Johnson came from behind with five points in the final 11 seconds of his match to advance, and Myatt, who has only been in the lineup in the later part of the season, came up with a pin against Christian Hammock, who pinned Myatt three weeks ago.
I think I always have some doubts and some nerves before a match, especially since he beat me a few weeks ago, said Myatt, who was on his back early in the match but managed to get out of it and pin Hammock late in the first round. I know that this is a team event, and I wanted to help my team, and I just had to get off my back. Once that happened, I felt a little better and was able to roll him and get the pin.
Mount de Sales also had a good day on the mat and is in third place.
I am very happy, and its really been a great surprise that we did so well, head coach Carsten Franklin said. I think we have progressed through the year, and we are reaping the benefits of all the hard work we have put in. We had some great matches and hopefully that will continue (Saturday).
The Cavaliers had five wrestlers make it through to the semifinals, including Dallace Francis at 182 pounds. Francis wrestled Piedmonts Mills Smith, who had pinned Francis twice during the regular season, and after being on his back in the first round, Francis pinned Smith in the second round.
Twice was two times too many for me, and I guess it was just my turn, said Francis, who lost his first seven matches of the season before turning things around. I knew I needed to pin him in the second round because I was already tired, and I dont know if I would have made it through another round. I am just going to try and build on this and see what happens on Saturday.
The other four Mount de Sales wrestlers to advance were Robert Putnam, Charlie Bish, Andy Barroso and Alex Mills. Tattnall Square also had five wrestlers advance: Aaron Hilliard, Jacob Tarver, Jared Heath, Brandon McClammy and Jonathan Ward.