White County High School senior Devin Sullens can add a state title to his resume Feb. 11 in Macon.
Sullens, a two-time state runner-up, will lock up with Gilmer County's Dylan Galloway in the 220-pound division championship match at the Class AAA tournament at the Macon Centreplex.
Sullens and Galloway both won three matches Wednesday during the opening day of the Class AAA tournament
Sullens started the day with a 22-second pin of Dawson County's Bradley Newton, and then pinned Pierce County's Jadon Lyons in 39 seconds in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, Sullens and Sonoraville's Draven Peppers locked up in a six-minute match, with Sullens taking a 7-6 decision. According to WCHS head coach Patrick Lowendick, Sullens was in complete control of the match from start to finish.
“The final score really isn't indicative of how the match went,” Lowendick said Wednesday afternoon in a phone interview from the arena. “Devin never trailed and he was in control the whole way. Some weird things happened to make it close; four of the six points came off mistakes. The kid was really strong and athletic, and I think this is the first time Devin's had to go the distance all year. He hasn't faced Galloway in a long time, but he's pretty good. From a style standpoint, I think Devin matches up better than he did with the Sonoraville kid. I feel pretty good about his chances (in the finals).”
Sullens, along with junior JD Trowell, and freshman Isiah Whitlow all won individual 7-AAA Area titles last Saturday.
The trio, along with sophomore Kane Lowery and freshman Caden Autry are competing in the state tournament. Sidney Sullens, a two-time girl's state runner-up, is part of the Girl's All-Classification tournament, which began Wednesday afternoon. Match scores for Sidney Sullens' matches were unavailable at press time.
Trowell won his opening match in the 285-pound division, pinning Murray County's Eli Hope. But in the quarterfinals, Morgan County's Micah Reed posted a third-period pin to knock Trowell into the consolation bracket.
Trowell shook off the loss and pinned Rockmart's Jase Davis at the 1:14 mark of his next match to stay alive in the consolation bracket
“JD had him on his back, and the head referee slapped the mat for a pin, but the other referees called JD for an illegal hold,” Lowendick said. “That was tough; and it kind of went down hill after that. But he won his next match, and he's still alive for Thursday.”
Whitlow opened the tournament with a 16-14 win over East Jackson's Charlie Wheeler, but suffered a loss in the quarterfinals to Piece County's Ty Harbrough. Whitlow stayed alive in the consolation round with a second period pin of Ringgold's Zane Roher to move onto the conso quarterfinals on Thursday.
At 113 pounds, Autry dropped his opening match to Coahulla Creek's Jesus Sanchez, but pinned Harlem's Devon Overbee in 13 seconds.
Autry's first state tournament experience ended in the next round of wrestle-backs as he fell to North Murray's Dawson Marr.
At 160 pounds, Lowery posted a 1-2 on the day. After dropping his first match to LaFayette's Hunter Deal, he bounced back to beat Pierce County's Zach Fullard with a second-period pin. He was eliminated from the tournament in the next round, falling to Cherokee Bluff's Brayden Nance.
Area tournament results
“We took 10 guys today, and we got half of them in Top 3 and they got through to state,” Lowendick said. “We had a couple more right on cusp, finishing fourth, and there is still a chance they could get in if there's an injury. We had to wrestle some guys that are pretty tough. A couple of our guys beat some people we'd lost to earlier in the season. You want to be peaking at the right time, and now is the right time.”
North Hall, who won the Class AAA Duals earlier this month, had 12 wrestlers qualify for the state tournament and ran away with the team title with 21.5 points.
Lumpkin County, which has nine wrestlers headed to state, was second, with 143.5 points. Cherokee Bluff had eight qualifiers and finished third with 132 points, with WCHS fourth at 109. West Hall was fifth and will send seven wrestlers to the state meet.
Whitlow, Trowell and Devin Sullens were all dominant at the area meet, combining to win all six of their matches by pin.
“Whitlow hasn't been able to wrestle the whole season, he's had some quarantine issues, so we really didn't know what to expect,” Lowendick said. “He came out and put on a performance today. I think he had two first-period pins. It's Devin's his third area title and that kind of just shows he's been at a high level for a while. JD came out here and grabbed a couple of guys and threw them around. We need more of this from him and Devin next week. Keep ramping it up, stepping it up.”
The Warrior contingent didn't have a lot of time before heading to Macon. The Warriors worked out Monday, before heading to Macon on Tuesday.
“Normally, we have at least a week before state, but it's a quick turnaround,” Lowendick said. “We're wrestling first thing Wednesday morning. We've got a couple of injuries we'll have to watch, but at this point it is go time.”
Lowendick believes the Warriors have a chance to do some damage at the state meet.
“Devin is definitely a contender, front runner kind of guy,” Lowendick said. “The guy he wrestled today from West Hall is expected to be on the podium too. JD is a wildcard being a first-year wrestler. He has some natural attributes (size and strength) that are hard to deal with. Sidney should be a 1 or 2 seed at 152. She's only wrestled four girls all year and she's 4-0, and I think she's 18-12 against guys.”
Sullens was dominant in winning the third area title of his prep career. He dispatched North Hall's Ethan Powers in the semifinals, needing only 1:12 to put Powers away. Sullens put Powers on the mat at the one-minute mark and quickly finished off the pin. It was the same recipe for success in the championship match against West Hall's Shakye Shaw. Sullens tied up with Shaw in the opening seconds, and then took Shaw to the mat, posting the pin 40 seconds into the period.
Trowell, who is a first-year wrestler, gave the Warriors a sweep in the heavyweight division, need only 73 seconds to win two matches and earn the 285-pound title.
Trowell, who is 23-4, this season, needed only 18 seconds to pin Cherokee Bluff's Brayden Harper in the semifinals. Trowell, who weighed in at 282 pounds, got control of the Harper in the opening seconds and once Harper was on the mat, the match was over.
In the finals, Trowell put North Hall's Triston Bassett on the mat in the first 40 seconds in the first period and pinned him 55 seconds into the match to complete his dominant performance.
“Our 220 and 285 are pretty dang dominant; we have some hammers at that end of the lineup,” WCHS assistant Nathan Riddle.
Whitlow won a pair of matches after getting a first round bye. He pinned Lumpkin County's Caleb Mitchell in the semifinals and then finished off West Hall's Michael Moya in the finals. Thirty seconds into the first period, Whitlow went low for a shot, taking Moya to the mat. Once he got Moya on the ground, Whitlow only need about 10-15 more seconds to complete the pin.
Lowery pinned West Hall's Axel Sepulveda in the opening round of the 160-pound division, but was beaten by Cherokee Bluff's Brayden Nance in the semifinals. In the consolation finals, Lowery rolled past Lumpkin County's Austin Evans to earn a ticket to the state meet. Lowery took control of the match in the opening period with an 8-2 lead and extended the lead to 12-3 in the second period, on the way to a 17-6 major decision.
Autry was one of only three wrestlers in the 113-pound class and will advance to the state tournament. Autry dropped a match to Lumpkin County's Holmes in the semifinals.
At 138 pounds, Ashton Pickett compiled a 1-2 record. He opened the tournament with a pin over Cherokee Bluff's Abe Evans, but fell to North Hall's Jackson Whitmire in the semifinals. In the consolation finals, Pickett and Evans met in a rematch, and this time Evans came out on top with a pin in the third period to earn the state spot.
Cam Winker went 1-2 in the 132-pound class. He earned a win by disqualification over Lumpkin County's Austin Marshall in the opening round, but fell to North Hall's Eli Domingo in the semifinals.
In the consolation finals, West Hall's Brian Armstrong won by a major decision to earn the third place spot.
Jeb Robinson competed in the 182-pound division, posting a 1-2 record. He dropped a match to Cherokee Bluff's Myka Sims in the semifinals, but bounced back in the consolation semifinals by pinning Lumpkin's Emmanuel Nieto in less than a minute. Robinson met West Hall's Caleb Beverly, with Beverly earning the win to get the state berth.
Senior Seth Stonecypher's career came to an end in the 170-pound division. Stonecypher, who has been a key part of the Warriors' lineup for the past couple of years, suffered a knee injury on Senior Night before the final regular season match.
Stonecypher wasn't even sure he would be able to wrestle in the area tournament until late last week. He wore a big knee brace during his two matches, but it was obvious he wasn't close to being 100 percent. He dropped a major decision to Cherokee Bluff's Dylan Roberts in the opening round, and then ended his career with a loss to Lumpkin's Trevor Coryell in the consolation semifinals.
Lance Hildebran competed in the 126-pound division. He dropped a match to West Hall's Hayden Rose in the opening round, and the was eliminated by Cherokee Bluff's Cade Lance in the consolation semifinals.