WINDER - Following a solid season, Dacula wrestling took another step forward on Saturday.
Improving on their fourth-place finish from a year ago, the Falcons placed third at the Area 8-AAAA Tournament and advanced seven of their 14 wrestlers to the state tournament.
"Team effort has been outstanding this year," Dacula coach Jason Holcombe said. "We are the first team in school history to qualify for state duals...we broke the school record for most dual wins in a season by going 21-4, and we finished third in this tournament."
Frankie Miller, who was unable to win his area final last season, redeemed himself with an 8-2 win over Eastside's JeMarcus Griggs in the 112-pound division.
"I think winning this year is a culmination of all the hard work (Miller) has given us for four years," Holcombe said. "Last year he finished second in the area, but finished second in state. Frankie has got a great shot at getting back to the finals again and winning a championship in the same year."
However, Dacula's two other finalists, Noah Hunt (119) and J.C. Hall (145) were unable to match Miller's result.
Hunt lost a tough match to Eastside's Joel Stafford 10-6 and Hall was beaten 15-0 by the Most Outstanding Wrestler in the middleweight division - Salem's Peter Yates.
In addition to the three finalists, four other members of the team earned berths in the state tournament. Vitaliy Yamuratiy (140) and Westin Sand (189) finished in third place in their divisions while Zeke Hunt (152) and Chris Hamrick (171) came in fourth place.
"If you told me at the start of the season that 50 percent of our team would qualify for state I would have had to take a step back and think about that," Holcombe said.
Dacula's 165 points were bettered only by second-place Jackson County (182.5) and tournament champion Eastside (240).