Dacula qualifies five for Class AAAA state tournament

It wasn't the kind of championship round that Dacula head coach Jason Holcombe was looking for on Saturday at the Area 8-AAAA wrestling tournament.

But in the end, he still saw five of his wrestlers qualify for this week's Class AAAA state tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

"We had a tough go of it in that last round," Holcombe said. "But we still got some guys in the dance ... and they'll be ready for the big show on Wednesday night."

Holcombe's two best hopes for an individual area titles were dashed early in the championship round as 112-pounder Frankie Miller and 119-pounder Noah Hunt fell in back-to-back title matches.

Miller, who came into the finals with a record of 48-1, got behind early against Heritage's Taylor Darnell and could never battle all the way back, eventually losing a 12-9 decision.

"He didn't get off to a good start," Holcombe said. "He went to his back twice and there has been only one other wrestler this year that has put Frankie on his back. He was just down by so much early. But trust me, Frankie Miller will be a state placer. I don't doubt his focus."

Hunt, just a sophomore, then lost the next match on the same mat when Rockdale's Luis Ponce pinned him in the middle of the third period. Before the fall, Hunt was trailing just 10-9.

"(Miller) and Noah have an outstanding chance of placing at state," Holcombe said. "... Noah is an amazing athlete, and he's still learning to use his athleticism."

Dacula's other finalist was sophomore Chris Hammrick (171), who was pinned by Jackson's Jesse Laughman in the middle of the second period. The Falcons' two other state qualifiers both finished in fourth place on Saturday. Kevin Bailey earned a berth at 125 and J.C. Hall at 152 for Dacula, which finished fourth overall as a team with 105 points.