Woodland wrestling finishes runner-up in loaded Florida tourney

The Woodland wrestling team went down to Florida and finished runner-up in the Knockout Christmas Classic against some of the best wrestling programs in the Southeast this past weekend in Kissimmee.

Defending GHSA Class 5A state champion in duals and traditional team competitions, the Wildcats amassed 204.5 points. Woodland managed to edge out Jesuit (Florida) by 1.5 points and greatly outpace all other teams, save for Lake Gibson — Florida’s reigning Class 2A champion, which accumulated 218.5 points over the two-day event.

Despite finishing with just one individual champion, the Wildcats had eight wrestlers place inside the top 6 of their respective weight classes.

Sophomore Caleb Henson was the lone Woodland winner, remaining unbeaten on the season after claiming the 145-pound title. He pinned his first three opponents before grinding out minor decisions in the semifinals (8-7) and in the final (5-4).

Jaxon Smith finished second at 170 pounds, dropping a sudden victory to Tylynn Lukens of Manatee (Florida) in the first-place match. The junior pinned his first two foes, advanced due to an opponent injury and reached the finals on a major-decision win.

Four Wildcats ended their tournaments with wins in third-place matchups.

Easton Bailey ended up 4-1 overall at 126 with his only loss coming in an 11-10 semifinal decision. The junior opened the weekend with two byes and two pins. After his narrow defeat, Bishop won by a 3-2 decision and claimed third by injury default.

After not losing a match his first two years of high school, junior Caden McCrary came up on the wrong end of a 4-3 decision in the 138-pound semifinals. He bounced back with a pair of wins to finish the tourney 5-1.

The third-place finisher at 160 pounds, Cole Cochran started and ended his tourney with pins. In between, he won once by minor decision, triumphed twice by major decision and fell by major decision.

Demarcus Williams finished 4-1 overall en route to a third-place showing at 195 pounds. The senior had a pair of byes ahead of two pins to reach the semis. After being pinned himself at that stage, Williams rebounded with a 9-7 decision and another pin to end on a high note.

At 132, Caleb Jones fought through three consolation rounds to finish fourth. The senior won by a 17-2 technical fall and 6-3 decision to reach the quarterfinals. Jones dropped a narrow 9-7 result there, but he reeled off three straight wins in the consolation bracket before falling in the third-place match.

Bryce Shedd wound up sixth at 220 after winning his first three matches following a first-round bye and losing his final three bouts. Shedd pinned two of his foes sandwiched around a 5-3 decision, but an injury suffered in the semifinals derailed the remainder of his tournament.

Woodland will now turn its attention to the Region 7-AAAAA duals tournament, which will begin at 9 a.m. Jan. 11 at Paulding County.