Gwinnett wrestlers win five AAAAA titles

DULUTH - It didn't matter that his head coach wasn't in his corner, Collins Hill's Taylor Knapp knew everthing he needed to know about his state finals opponent on Saturday.

After all it was his fourth meeting against two-time defending state champion Kendall Albert from Peachtree Ridge.

After trailing 3-2 to start the third period, Knapp scored four points to take a 6-3 win and claim the 135-pound Class AAAAA state championship at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

"Oh, it feels great," Knapp said of his first state title, "but he's also my friend. I'm glad I won, but I'm not glad to see him lose."

Albert won the first two meetings early in the season, but then last week Knapp beat Albert for the first time to win the Area 7-AAAAA title.

Knapp won the state championship without his head coach Cliff Ramos, who was in the hospital after suffering a kidney stone at the end of the consolation finals on Saturday.

"I just talked to him on the phone from the hospital," Knapp said. "He told me congratulations and that he was proud of me. I know he wishes he could have been here, but I'll let it go this time."

Knapp was Collins Hill's only state champion, but the Eagles had six wrestlers place, to finish in third overall behind McEachern, which won the state title, and second-place Walton.

"They very much exceeded our expectations," Collins Hill coach Jim Tiller said. "The one thing we are most proud of is for the eighth straight year we have finished in the top three or better.

"We had a few kids not place that we thought would and a few we didn't expect that did, but that's the state tournament. It's always an adventure."

Parkview had two state champions in Ryan Galloway (130) and Jesse Miller (145) to finish in fourth place as a team.

"Given all the circumstances and everything that has happened, we're happy to get a trophy," Parkview co-head coach Tom Beuglas said. "We left too many points at home."

Galloway finishes the season undefeated with a 46-0 record and his second state title after beating Lassiter's Bryan Jacoutot, a state finalist last year.

"It's a nice way to end my wrestling career with a win," Galloway said.

Miller took a little longer than his state final last year, but the result was the same, pinning Union Grove's Jack Roberts in 27 seconds.

"I just wanted to win, but a pin with a win is good enough for me," Miller said. "I was hoping to finish my career with four state placers, but two state titles is pretty good."

Beuglas had high praise for his two seniors who won state titles.

"Both have come up through our youth program, been in the lineup all year, team captains, that's the way they should go out," the Parkview coach said.

In Grayson's seven-year history, the Rams have never had a state wrestling champion. That drought ended Saturday night when the Rams not only got their first state winner - they got two.

Nathan Swanson (171) became the school's first state champion and three matches later, James Boatright (285) joined his teammate. While Grayson has won state titles when it was in Class AAA, Swanson and Boatright become the school's first Class AAAAA state champions.

To add to their legacy they did it by finishing the season undefeated. Swanson was 54-0 and Boatright was 36-0.

"There's a lot of state champs up there with losses, so it's pretty special to win it and be undefeated," Grayson coach Steve West said. "This is a night I'm going to remember for a long time."

Swanson needed triple overtime to reach the finals on Friday and on Saturday the senior went to overtime again, beating defending state champion Dylan Temple of Walton 4-2.

"It's so sweet because last year I didn't even place and lost to two guys that I had already beat," Swanson said. "It's the only tournament that I've never placed in and it made me want this so bad."

Boatright was a state runner-up last year and the favorite to win it this season. The senior didn't disappoint, beating Parkview's Brian Farris for the third time this year with a second-period pin.

"I'm just so happy for James," West said. "He works so hard for everything he gets and he's definitely deserving of a state title."

Brookwood's Jabril Hill (215), Collins Hill's David Clayton (125), Peachtree Ridge's Andrew Sartain (103) and North Gwinnett's Travis Sheehy (152) all finished


Sartain lost to McEachern's Brandon Westerman, a defending state champion at 103, while Sheehy was runner-up for the second straight year after Union Grove's Carrington Banks won his fourth state title.