SUWANEE - Peachtree Ridge's Andrew Sartain proved he could hang with the best and Collins Hill's T.J. Mitchell showed why he's still the one to beat.
In the mostly highly anticipated match of the Area 7-AAAAA wrestling championships, Mitchell held off Sartain in the 112-pound final for the area title on Saturday.
Mitchell was one of eight Collins Hill wrestlers to win area championships as the Eagles claimed their fourth straight team title.
"It was a big win, but I don't think I wrestled to the best of my ability," Mitchell said. "I knew it was going to be a big match. I thought it was a little sloppy."
The Eagles qualified 13 wrestlers for next week's traditional state tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
North Gwinnett qualified the second most with 10 to finish in second place. Peachtree Ridge finished fourth and qualified six.
Mitchell was a state champion in Class AA last year at Wesleyan, while Peachtree Ridge's Sartain was the state runner-up in Class AAAAA. Both have had outstanding seasons and Saturday's match lived up to the hype.
"That was a great match," Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos said. "They're both good kids and have a lot of respect for each other. There was a lot of excitement in the match and I like those kind."
In a match that featured four warnings, numerous stalemates and the clearing of wrestlers and fans along the mat, Mitchell was able to pull out a 6-2 victory.
Sartain got a quick takedown to start the match and led 2-0 after the first period.
"I was a little surprised he took me down," said Mitchell, who had never been taken down by a Georgia wrestler in high school.
Mitchell put Sartain in a cradle to pick up three near-fall points and was up 3-2 at the end of two. Sartain was hit with his second warning in the third and Mitchell was awarded a point. Mitchell added a takedown for the 6-2 victory.
"I didn't feel like I was stalling," Sartain said. "All I know is next week is when it really matters."
It likely won't be the last time the two meet. Both are the top wrestlers in the 112-pound weight class and should see each other again in the state finals next Saturday.
"I think 100 percent I can take him next week," Sartain said. "I just have to get up from bottom better. I think the big shock was that I took him down."
"I think Sartain definitely proved he could wrestle T.J.," Peachtree Ridge coach Danny Sinnott said. "I think it will be another close match at state next week."
Mitchell was one of 12 Collins Hill wrestlers in the finals and eight of them won area championships.
The Eagles got wins from their big guns, Mitchell, Joel Smith, Taylor Knapp, Gary Tiller, Nick Smith and David Coffey, who are all defending area champions. But Collins Hill also performed well with some of its lesser known wrestlers. Sophomore Allen Willard and junior John Allgood, who was on the junior varsity earlier this season, won their first area titles.
"I'm happy we had eight champs," Ramos said. "Of course we would have liked to have qualified 14. The big disappointment was Cody Parker not qualifying. We love him and I feel bad for him that he didn't qualify."
Joseph Doyague, James Smithson, C.J. Collins and Will Collins took second, while Sam Hoppenbrouwer placed third for the Eagles.
"It's just another step toward state," Coffey said of qualifying 13. "We feel very confident going into state. I think we have at least 11 guys that could place."
North put six in the finals and Greg Epps, Jamal Shelton and Travis Sheehy all came away with titles. It's the first time since North joined Area 7 that it has had three area camps in one year. It was the second area title for Sheehy and the first for Epps and Shelton.
Michael Hagen, Alex Reffett and Steve Buffington placed second.
"That's as good as we could have done," North Gwinnett coach Steve Hassenger said.
Hassenger was especially proud of David Singletary, who was ineligible the first half of the season and battled back to take third at area, and Shelton, who had never wrestled before joining the North program, won an area title.
Peachtree Ridge sent four to the finals and came away with only one champion. Sartain lost a close match, Kendall Albert lost by injury default and Matt Chapman lost a close to Sheehy. Sam Kuntz was the Lions' only area champion, defeating Collins Hill's C.J. Collins 6-3.
"I have mixed results," Sinnott said. "I'm pleased with the some of the results, but not overall with the way we wrestled."
After being taken down in the first 20 seconds of the match, Albert hurt his right shoulder. Already wrestling with a brace on his right knee, Albert tried to continue. The pain in his right shoulder was too much and the two-time state champion lost by injury default, his second loss of the season.