SUWANEE - It is extremely rare to see Collins Hill head coach Cliff Ramos happy after a loss. But he was definitely pleased to see his Eagles, which many could consider to be in a rebuilding year, give the No. 12 team in the country everything it wanted.
In the end Collins Hill fell to Oviedo (Orlando, Fla.) 38-24 in the championship match of the Kyle Maynard Duals, but according to Ramos, Collins Hill's only loss of the tournament might have been its best showing.
"I was very unhappy earlier in the day in some of our matches. The first match today we were horrible and we wrestled a team we should have beaten really bad, very close," Ramos said. "But as the day went on we wrestled better. But I was really pretty happy (with the Oviedo match)."
Ramos was happy after it was over with, but he was not nearly as pleased with the way the title match started. The defending state champions got behind the two-time state champs from Florida 17-0 after the first four matches.
Collins Hill picked up a three-point decision from 215-pounder Leon DeLain to begin to close the gap. After Matt Johnson was pinned in the heavyweight match, the Eagles (20-4) won three of the next four to cut the deficit to 26-18. Karl Manning (103 pounds) and Taylor Knapp (119) each won with pins and Myers Beck (125) battled John Christiansen for a 1-0 victory.
If there was a turning point in this match, it came in the 130-pound bout. Just after Collins Hill squeaked out a one point win, the Eagles gave it right back as Dominic Vercelote lost to Justin Edge 4-3. Vercelote and the rest of the Collins Hill bench thought he had earned an escape point right at the end of the third period, but it came moments after the horn sounded, nearly ending any hope of a Collins Hill comeback.
Senior Thomas Knapp pinned Danny Corelli at 135 pounds to cut the gap back down to five, but the Lions (15-0) picked up another pin at 140 pounds and a decision in the final match to seal the deal.
Both Knapp brothers went unbeaten on the day, with Taylor earning four pins. DeLain and Beck also went undefeated as DeLain had three pins and Beck finished with a pair.
The Maynard Duals, named after former Collins Hill wrestler Kyle Maynard, is fast becoming known as a dual meet with very stiff competition, which is something Ramos is always looking for.
"It doesn't get any easier next week when we go up to Chapel Hill. That is the competition I like to have," the head coach said. "Real, real tough competition. We are still underdogs to Parkview and McEachern but this tournament helps a lot."
On the way to the finals, Collins Hill knocked off teams from all over the southeast. The Eagles beat Father Ryan (Nashville, Tenn.) 33-18, followed by a 42-21 win over Dematha (Hyattsville, Md.), a 47-9 win over Grayson, and a 40-22 win over Hoover (Birmingham, Ala.)
Grayson also had a tough draw, finishing in 10th place with an 0-5 record. The Rams lost to Eastside in the 9th place match 38-37. Grayson (15-7) actually tied Eastside but lost the tie breaker. 160-pounder Nathan Swanson went 5-0 on the day with two pins and heavyweight James Boatright also went unbeaten, earning three wins by pin.