Wesleyan powers past Lovett to claim 3-AA crown

NORCROSS - Head coach Jeff Bedard made a promise to his Wesleyan wrestling team three years ago.

Saturday, in front of an excited home crowd at Yancey Gymnasium, Bedard's assurance came true as the Wolves swept opponent Lovett, 49-21, in the Area 3-AA Duals. It was the first state-bound victory against the Lions, who are two-time defending area dual champions.

"They were a huge obstacle," Bedard said.

"They beat us in the finals the last two years. ... I'm convinced that coach [Jim] Glasser is the best wrestling coach to step foot in the state of Georgia."

The team hurried its way to the finals, enjoying a first-round bye, followed by a resounding 82-0 victory over Avondale and a semifinal win over Fannin 59-9.

In the finals, Chris Alexander won by a 4-2 decision over Barrett Nichols before Wesleyan rolled out pin after pin.

"Back-to-back pins tend to take the air out of anyone's sails," Bedard said of the quick start. "It was a great team effort."

Beginning with Michael Douglas at 189 pounds, the Wolves made three consecutive pins and won the heavyweight match by forfeit.

The Wolves' Kelby Smith took down Lovett's Mac Emerson just once before Smith secured the team's most efficient pin in 1 minute

9 seconds.

"I just wanted to go out there fired up," Smith said. "It got the momentum set up."

The Lions scored their first pin of the day in the 112-pound category, when Ben Popkin pinned Andrew Whited in 1:32. Lovett also won categories 125, 145 and 160 with two major decisions and a pin.

The most contested matchup of the finals was the 130-pound division, where Wesleyan's Jay Heslin held on for a 6-5 decision over Hunter Dunlap.

Dunlap went down six points early, but scored all five of his points in the final two minutes.

Bedard said the victory was important for Heslin's confidence heading into the state tournament.

"He needs that," Bedard said. "His confidence was down but he regrouped and stayed focused."

The Wolves will face Dublin in the first round on Saturday in Macon.