Battle of the State Champions! -- Pope wrestling families need to come out and show their support on Wednesday!
When: 6:00 pm, Wednesday, November 28
Where: Pope High School
Who: Thompson AL vs. Pope GA
From "The Guillotine" Clash Preview
Thompson High School from Alabaster, Alabama will be the first team from Alabama to compete in the Clash tournament. Alabaster is a community of about 30,000 people just south of Birmingham in the center of the state. Although Thompson High School’s enrollment of just under 1800 students in grades 9-12 ranks it among the largest in the state, they did not have a wrestling program prior to 2008. Shawn Weltzin, who had wrestled under Terry Brands at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, was invited to start a middle school program in 2007 with a plan to develop wrestlers and eventually build a high school program as the sport developed.
It apparently didn’t take long because Coach Weltzin started a varsity program the following year and Thompson High School went on to win its first Class 6A state tournament three years later. They followed it up last season with a dominating performance in winning their second straight state title during the 2011-2012 season. The Warriors not only set a state scoring record with 231.5 points, but also tied a state record by qualifying all 14 wrestlers to the tournament.
Coach Weltzin was named Birmingham Metro Coach of the year in 2007 and 2008 and Alabama Wrestling Coach of the Year in 2011.
Although the Warriors lose three state champions to graduation they will boast 13 seniors on their roster this season including some serious depth and experience at a number of weights. Leading the team will be senior state champion Nick Hall (1st at 145) along with Austin Gould (Sr, 3rd at 113), Reed Jack (Sr, 5th at 120), Mario Haynes (Sr, 4th at 126), Cahman Holder (Sr, SQ at 170), Hunter Pinneo (Sr, SQ at 195), Conner Gilson (Jr, 2nd at 106), and Brewer Gilland (Jr, 2nd at 132). Along with these state place winners will be Riley Pike, a sophomore who is starting out the seasons ranked 2nd at 106 and Cody Weihunt, a senior currently ranked 1st at 152.
Alan C. Pope High School from Marietta, Georgia is the third top 50 school to be making its first visit to the Clash National Duals. Situated 30 minutes NW of Atlanta, Marietta is home to roughly 57,000 residents making it one of the largest suburbs of Atlanta. Pope High School was founded in 1987 and now boasts roughly 1800 students in grades 9-12.
The Greyhounds are the defending Class 4A dual and traditional state champions from Georgia and have racked up an overall record of 139-11 in dual meets over the last five years including a 27-1 campaign last season. Georgia crowns champions in six classes and Pope will be one of three of those champions competing in the Clash this year. They will be joining Class 5A state champions Collins Hill (11th in Clash 7) and Class 2A state champs Jefferson (10th in Clash 10).
For head coach Jim Haskin, in his 17th season at the helm of the Greyhounds, the state title was his second in a row. If these credentials aren’t enough to strike fear in potential Clash opponents, here are two more things to consider. The Greyhounds only lost one starting wrestler to graduation and they made last season’s run without their most notable wrestler.
Senior Brooks Climmons, who is ranked as high as 2nd in the US at 182 missed much of last season due to a football injury but is back for his senior season. Brooks already made a splash at Fargo this summer finishing runner-up at 182 and earning All-American honors. Joining Climmons, will be seniors Billy Meek (2nd in last years GA state tournament at 160), Trevor Stevens (4th at 195 and 5th at the recent Super 32), Preston Markwell (SQ at 126), Curran McMahon (SQ at 220) and Taylor Howard (SQ at 285). Complimenting this crew of seniors will be juniors Jake Henson (State Champion at 152), Joey Tabachino (3rd at 170), Tyler Haskin (SQ at 120) and Samuel Skinner who is starting the season ranked 10th in GA at 106. Rounding out the line-up will be Davis Burson (Soph., SQ at 138) and at least eight other wrestlers with varsity experience.