Every high school athletics team enters the season with a state championship as the ultimate goal, but for the vast majority of teams, it is virtually unattainable or the quest for the state title will end in heartbreak.
Only one team can hold up the trophy at the end of a season, and it’s definitely not supposed to look as easy as the Woodland High wrestling team made it look this weekend in Macon.
The Wildcats took home their second consecutive state duals title after beating Veterans Saturday by a score of 47-15, capping a dominant three days at the Macon Coliseum in which they won by a combined 227 points in their four matches.
“That’s a pretty good Veterans team and we beat them pretty good. I think we only lost three matches, so it was a good weekend,” Woodland head coach Adrian Tramutola said. “We’re the best team in the state, regardless of the classification. You look at what happened [Saturday], Pope won [Class 6A earlier in the season]. We beat them. Collins Hill and Camden [County] came down to the last match [in Class 7A], and we beat Collins Hill 58-8 and forfeited a weight. Woodward Academy, they won [Class 4A] [Saturday]. We beat them by about 100 points in two [traditional] tournaments we wrestled in.”
Woodland had wins across its lineup all weekend, but the match garnering the most attention came Saturday with Woodland’s nationally ranked 145-pounder Caleb Henson bumping up a weight class to meet Veterans’ nationally ranked 152-pounder Francis Morrissey.
Henson got taken down right away in the match, but came back and won the matchup of top wrestlers and went undefeated in the tournament, as did Caden McCrary, Jaxon Smith and Cole Cochran.
Woodland led 24-12 about halfway through the dual, but with Henson bumping up to the 152-pound weight class, Randy Buchanan stepped in at 145 and pinned his opponent, which linked a run in the lineup of dominance from McCrary at 138 through Smith at 170, which featured Buchanan, Henson and Cochran in between.
Tramutola had gone with the lineup in the semifinals against Ola, too.
“We did that, not really out of necessity, but I just thought it gave us the best little run at maximizing our points,” Tramutola said of the lineup choice. “They tried to put another kid at 126 and we put one of our backups in — Randy Buchanan — and he went out there and got a pin. So that backfired on them, and then we went on a roll there and pretty much iced it.”
Earlier in the tournament, Woodland beat Ola in the semifinals, 60-6, Walnut Grove in the quarterfinals, 72-12, and Miller Grove in the first round, 81-0.
While Woodland has won three state duals championships before, Tramutola said this was the most dominant his team has been.
“The scores reflect that,” He said. “There were some spots where we feel we didn’t wrestle well. But that’s the beauty of the team game. When someone’s flat, someone else can pick them up.”
The Wildcats will now turn their attention to the traditional season, where the team will have plenty of wrestlers who could win individual state championships back at the Macon Coliseum in about a month. Woodland will be the odds-on favorite to win a second team state title, as well.
“I think, at times, we’ve looked better in traditional tournaments,” Tramutola said. “Not that we’ve looked bad in the duals. We haven’t had that many close duals, but we have so many guys we think can run to the finals and place and score a lot of bonus points. We’re kind of hard to stop in a traditional tournament.”