SUWANEE - When Peachtree Ridge's Alan Gigolaeve came to the U.S. from Russia, he had to get used to folkstyle wrestling in America.
Gigolaeve grew up wrestling freestyle, but six months later it looks like he's adjusted nicely.
Gigolaeve reached Friday's semifinals, which guaranteed him placement in the top six of the Class AAAAA state tournament. However, he lost to Collins Hill's Gary Tiller in the 152-pound semifinals and will now battle back through today's consolations for third place.
"I thought he had a chance at winning a couple of matches, but I wasn't sure if we would place," Peachtree Ridge coach Danny Sinnott said.
It's a surprise Gigolaeve is wrestling at the state tournament anyway. In the Area 7-AAAAA tournament last week he was disqualified after slamming a wrestler to the mat in the consolation bracket. Gigolaeve ended up taking fifth to earn the alternate spot. It's rare that an alternate is ever used, but Tuesday night Sinnott got the call that he was in.
The junior has made most of his first trip to state. While most first timers are awe struck by wrestling in such a big venue in front of so many people, it hasn't seemed to faze Gigolaeve.
"I think he's just having a good time and enjoying being here and enjoying wrestling," Sinnott said.
He beat Hiram's Bobby Dukes, a state placer last year, in the first round and Murray County's Blake Rainey on Thursday. He followed that up by beating Centennial's Marc Rioux in the quarterfinals and an automatic placement.
"He's beat three pretty good kids," Sinnott said. "He's got heart."
Dacula goes 3-for-3 in semis
Dacula's impressive season continued on Friday as the Falcons put three wrestlers into today's Class AAAA championships.
Frankie Miller (112 pounds), Noah Hunt (119) and J.C. Hall (145) all won their semifinal matches. The Falcons also have Zeke Hunt left in the consolations.
"It's just been a miracle year for us," Dacula coach Jason Holcombe said. "They've worked so hard for this."
Miller, a state runner-up last year, got a 3-0 victory to return to the finals. He'll face Eastside's Jamarkus Griggs. It will be a rematch of last week's area final that Miller won.
Noah Hunt, who took fifth last year, got a 40-second pin to advance and will take on Eastside's Joel Stafford.
Hall won in the final seconds of his semifinal match and will have the toughest final of the three. He'll wrestle Salem's Peter Yates, a defending state champion who is nationally ranked.
Wesleyan still in Class AA hunt
Despite only bringing nine wrestlers to the Class AA tournament, Wesleyan is still in the thick of the team standings.
Wesleyan, which took second last year as a team, is 12.5 behind leader Lovett. The Lions have 108 points followed by Wesleyan's 95.5 and LaFayette is in third with 91.
"The tournament is going to be won tomorrow in the wrestlebacks," Wesleyan coach Jeff Plunk said.
The Wolves put three in today's finals - Colin Genthert (152), Michael Douglas (189) and Kelby Smith (215).
"In our school's history we've never had three kids make the finals before," Plunk said. "Hopefully, we can get three state champions."
Also in Class AA, Greater Atlanta Christian's Travis Elrod reached the 119-pound finals. He'll face Chattooga's Elvino Felipe. It's the first time since 2005 that the Spartans have had a wrestler in the finals.
Buford's Scottie Forrester will wrestle for the 145-pound title. He'll take LaFayette's Joe Franks.
Helena back in finals
After reaching the state finals as a freshman, Shiloh's Daniel Helena didn't plac at state the last two years.
Helena is back in finals after Friday's semifinals win over Forsyth Central's Michael Vasquez. This time Helena is not content on reaching the championship, he wants to win it.
"It feels great. I wish it would have happened a lot sooner than this," Helena said. "This is my senior year and I'm just going to learn from my experiences."
Helena will face Harrison's Alex Medved, who placed fifth last year, in the 140-pound championship.
"I think it will be a good match," Helena said.
Fields reaches finals, makes weight
Two years ago, Parkview's Carson Fields reached the Class AAAAA finals, but didn't get to wrestle for the championship because he didn't make weight.
On Friday after his semifinal win, Fields was sure to make weight and will wrestle in tonight's finals at 7 p.m.
"Me and my dad were talking about, it's going to be a lot better ride home than my sophomore year," Fields said.
Fields reached the finals with a convincing 19-4 victory over Walton's Al Holloway in the 135-pound semis.
"I wanted to pin, but I guess a tech is good," Fields said.
The senior will wrestle Collins Hill's Joel Smith in tonight's finals. Fields beat Smith early this season in the Gwinnett County finals 7-5.
"I didn't open up last time," Fields said. "I feel pretty good about it, especially since I'm going to weigh about 160."
Big names go down in quarters
Four of the top wrestlers in Gwinnett County lost in Friday's quarterfinals.
Defending state champion T.J. Mitchell from Collins Hill and last year's state runner-ups Kendall Albert of Peachtree Ridge, Travis Sheehy of North Gwinnett and Brian Farris of Parkview will have to battle through the consolation bracket to place.
After going 50-0 last year and winning the Class AA state title at Wesleyan, Mitchell was expected to continue his success at the AAAAA level at Collins Hill.
Mitchell lost a close match to Centennial's Brian St. James 4-3 when he was hit with a stalling call in the finals seconds. St. James was awarded the winning point, giving Mitchell his first loss to a Georgia wrestler in his career. He was 56-2 going into the quarterfinal loss with his only losses coming out of state.
Albert, who was a two-time state champion, fell to Kell's Gerrard Spice.
After placing second the last two years, Sheehy was looking to for his first state title. A 4-3 loss to Union Grove's Bradley Banks denied Sheehy's quest.
Farris lost in overtime when McEachern's Keith Parker took him down for the 3-1 victory.
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