Sullens wins region title; WCHS sends six to sectionals
A contingent of seven White County High School wrestlers are headed to Perry this weekend for the Class AAAA Sectional B tournament.
The Warriors' contingent is led by junior Devin Sullens, who won the 7-AAAA championship last weekend at the region tournament at Flowery Branch High School. Sullens dominated a pair of matches to win the 285-pound division. Sean Wurtz and Seth Stonecypher both finished second in their weight classes, while Justin Gilbert was third, with Michael Harris and Cam Winkler both finishing fourth.
“We wrestled pretty good; we got half our team through to the sectionals,” WCHS head coach Patrick Lowendick said. “We had four or five going in that we expected to make, and we had one or two that exceeded our expectations, so that was good to see. We finished fifth as a team, which doesn't sound all that great, but we were only 12 points out of first place. That's basically just having one more kid qualify (for sectionals).”
The Warriors started the season with a lot of new faces in the lineup, and had to depend on a group of freshmen and sophomores to fill out some holes in the lineup.
“It's turned out better than we expected,” Lowendick said. “We started the season with so many young guys, guys that were wrestling at the varsity level for the first time.”
“Devin strolled through the weekend,” Lowendick said. “He dominated his two matches.”
Sullens spent just over a minute on the mat during the region tournament, disposing of Chestatee's Victor Rosas and Flowery Branch's Clayton Walczuk. Both of his opponents had a weight advantage of 30-40 pounds, but their size was no match for Sullens' superior strength and technique.
He needed just over 40 seconds to put away Rosas in the semifinals. Rosas was injured on the throw, suffering a collarbone injury.
In the finals, Wolczuk came out aggressive, locking up with Sullens, which proved to be a mistake. Sullens managed to use his patented throw move to take Wolczuk to mat in the opening 15 seconds of the first period, and then finished off the pin just 29 seconds after the opening whistle.
“I've wrestled these guys before, so I knew I could get a title this year,” Sullens said. “I went out there with the mindset of 'Hey, I'm about to go out there and dominate these guys.' Usually when I wrestle big guys like that, they are more laid back, not wanting to get in tight with me because everybody knows I throw (takedown technique).”
Sullens faces a tough test in the sectional tournament, with several of the top wrestlers in the state among the 15-man bracket. The field includes West Laurens' Spencer Daccus, who beat Sullens in the Class AAAA championship match last year, and Blessed Trinity's Jackson Filipowicz, who won the 220-pound state title last year, and finished third in the 7-AAAA tournament last week after being upset by Walczuk in the region semifinals.
“It's going to be a good for me, there's going to be some great competition there,” Sullens said. “The guy (Daccus) who I lost to in the (state) finals last year is on the side of the bracket, so hopefully we'll meet in the finals.”
Wurtz and Stonecypher both competed in the title match in their respective weight divisions.
Wurtz posted a 2-1 record in the 132-pound division. He pinned Chestatee's Dorothy Gerrel in the quarterfinals, and then put Flowery Branch's Colton Murphy on his back for the pin in the semifinal match.
In the championship. Wurtz fell behind early to Blessed Trinity's Kevin Daniels, and was never able to recover as Daniels went on to a take the match by technical fall.
Stonecypher followed the same path in the 182-pound division. He recorded a pin over Denmark's Jake Swart in the quarterfinals, and then pinned Flowery Branch's Josh Gutierrez in the semifinals.
In the finals, Stonecypher battled early against Blessed Trinity's Mavrick Torrico, but lost the match by a technical fall.
“Sean did what he does,” Lowendick said. “He made his third region final, and he's a four-time qualifier. He lived up to the expectations we had for him. Seth wrestled well. He qualified as freshman and the missed out last year because he was injured.”
Gilbert had a solid weekend in the 170-pound division, finishing with a 3-1 record. He opened up the tournament with a win by pin over Chestatee's Owen Baker, but suffered a loss to West Hall's Tristen Campellone in the semifinals. He bounced back to pin Denmark's Trey Patterson in the consolation semifinals, and then pinned Blessed Trinity's Mac Post in the third place match.
Harris earned a decision in his opening match of the 126-pound division, beating Marist's Michael Goode. Harris suffered a loss in the semifinal round to Chestatee's Pascual Velasquez, but pinned Denmark's Diego Gomez-Sanchez in the consolation semifinals. He suffered a lost by technical fall in the third place match to Flowery Branch's Jarrett Greene.
In the 120-pound division, Winkler earned a fourth-place finish. He picked up a pin in the opening round over Flowery Branch's Jon Valentine, but was beaten by West Hall's Brian Armstrong in the semifinals. He stayed alive with a pin over Marist's Elijah Patterson in the consolation semifinals, and then fell to Blessed Trinity's Joey Moroski in the third place match.
“Justin didn't wrestle for the varsity last year, so this was his first time on the big stage,” Lowendick said. “He could have won it this weekend. He had one bad match, but he was in the mix. Michael surprised us last year, and he solidified that by qualifying (for sectionals) this year. This is Cam's first year wrestling. He's figured it out, and he's put in the work.”
Charles Shelby (106), Ashton Pickett (138), Kane Lowery (145), Jacob Holbrook (152), Jeb Robinson (160), and Tyler Anderson (220) rounded out the Warriors' lineup at the region meet. Lowery, and Holbrook both finished fifth in their respective weight classes.
The Warriors and the rest of the Region 7-AAAA wrestlers will compete in the Class AAAA Section B at Perry High School this weekend, along with teams from Region 1, 3, and 5. According to Lowendick, the B sectional is stacked with most of the top wrestlers in the classification.
“I think about 10 or 12 state champions will come out of this sectional, and maybe 70-75 percent of the state placers,” Lowendick said. “The overall depth is much greater than the other sectional. There's some good guys in the other sectional, but this side is loaded. In the past, I've said if you can get out of our region, you have a pretty good chance of getting through the sectionals to state. This year, I'm not as confident about that because this sectional is so good. It's going to be a fight for everybody. If you finish in Top 8 in this sectional, that means you've done something.”
WCHS will have one more wrestler at the sectional tournament with sophomore Sidney Sullens taking part in the girl's tournament. Sullens, the Class AAAA runner-up last year in the 152-pound division, is looking to earn another shot in the state finals.
“The girls tournament is different because she'll be competing against girls from not only 4A, but 7A as well, so she'll definitely have her work cut out for her this year. The sectional champion is the only one that's guaranteed a spot in the state meet, but I think if you are a finalist, you'll probably get a spot as well.”