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Collins Hill walks away with area crown

SUWANEE - Two years ago Collins Hill did the unthinkable and qualified all 14 wrestlers for the state tournament.

Last year they did the same, and it propelled the Eagles to the state title.

But in this year's area tournament the Eagles one-upped themselves. Collins Hill again won the Area 7-AAAAA and sent 14 wrestlers to the state tournament. But in this year's area tournament, the Eagles had a wrestler in the finals in every weight class.

"No, I've never had a team do this before," Collins Hill head coach Cliff Ramos said. "I think the most I ever had was 11; so this was the best tournament in the 30 years as a coach that I've ever had. I have heard of something like this being done in Class A, but I don't know if it has ever been done in AAAAA."

The Eagles finished with 276 points and held a 121.5 point advantage over second- place Peachtree Ridge. North Gwinnett took third with 149 points. But even though Collins Hill dominated this meet like never before, there were still a few upsets along the way.

"We had a couple of kids pull some upsets that we were worried about even qualifying (for state)," Ramos said. "Karl Manning at 103 did a great job to finish second, and Gary Tiller is a freshman and was 20 pounds underweight and still finished second."

Collins Hill split its 14 championship matches, picking up seven area champions, while Peachtree Ridge had three. Collins Hill senior Thomas Knapp earned his fourth region championship with a 7-2 win over North's Travis Sheehy.

"That was big (to win four straight area titles). We haven't had a lot of people in Gwinnett County do that. That puts him in elite company," Ramos said.

Along with Knapp, David Clayton (112 pounds), Dominic Vercelote (130), Ben Hoppenbrouwer (152), Nick Smith (160), Leon Delain (215) and Matt Johnson (275) also took home area titles.

While Collins Hill eliminated all doubt early on, Peachtree Ridge still had an impressive second-place finish. The Lions had by far their best area meet in school history, qualifying seven wrestlers for state and maybe more importantly beating Collins Hill 3-1 head-to-head in the finals.

"That really helps our program a lot," Peachtree Ridge head coach Danny Sinnott said. "Collins Hill is a very tough team. They beat us pretty handily in the duals, but it makes our kids feel good to go up against the state runner-up (in duals) and beat them three out of four."

Andrew Sartain (103) and Joseph Son (171) each finished first, while defending state champion Kendall Albert (125) took home his second straight area championship.

North Gwinnett saw Ellis Logeman (145) and Kyle Chewning (189) earn first place medals, while Bobby Lewis (119) and Chris Lee (140) stood atop the podium for Mill Creek.