Falcon practice partners push each other to state titles

DULUTH - Frankie Miller and Noah Hunt spent almost every day of the wrestling season with each other.

The two know each others' moves, know each others' strengths and Saturday they both learned what it feels like to be state champions.

"These are my first two state champions, ever," said Dacula coach Jason Holcombe. "The fact that they are practice partners is incredible.

"It's absolutely incredible."

Hunt celebrated first when he took the 119-pound weight class with an 11-3 win over Eastside's Joel Stafford. The win vindicated a loss to Stafford in the area finals and the emotion showed. As the final second ticked off the clock in the third period, Hunt sprinted off the mat towards his parents, grabbing both of them with a jubilant hug.

Then it was Miller's turn. His 12-2 win at 112 pounds over Eastside's Jamarkus Griggs redeemed a loss in last year's state finals and the senior not only won his first state title, but set a school record for victories with 170. A new record in the final match of his high school career that also came with a state title.

"I didn't know that until (Holcomb) just told me," Miller said. "It's (something to be) proud of, but it is nothing compared to winning a state championship.

"Especially after Noah won, it's pretty awesome."

Dacula's J.C. Hall also wrestled in the finals, but lost to defending state champion Peter Yates from Salem. The Falcons finished 10th overall with 92.5 points.

But nothing could temper Holcombe's glee after coaching three state championship matches and seeing two titles, especially one from the senior Miller.

"It all started with Frankie," Holcomb said. "After Frankie came into this school four years ago everything else came into place. Frankie is the stone and what we did with that stone is we built a mountain around that stone."

Fields finally gets title

Carson Fields has been through so much adversity that he couldn't let his last match end on a sour note.

The Parkview senior put a stamp on his career by winning his first state championship with a 65-second pin of Collins Hill's Joel Smith.

"I was kind of worried before the match, but (Parkview coach Tom) Beuglas came up to me and said I've been in bigger matches than this," Fields said. "I'm happy that I won. I'm surprised I was able to do that to him. He's really tough."

Fields broke a rib the week of state his freshman season and finished sixth. As a sophomore, he reached the state finals, but missed the last weight out and had to forfeit. He won the Greco Roman national title the summer of 2006, but had shoulder surgery last year and missed state.

"What's happened to him the last couple of years, especially missing weight, he's been under a lot of pressure to win state," Beuglas said. "I knew he was cranked up tonight. I think everyone got to see a glimpse of how good he is."

Fields will wrestle at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga next season, one of the top programs in the South. At the state tournament he breezed through his competition with four pins and a technical fall.

"I was kind of joking with Beuglas before the tournament to take them down and try to get the pin," Fields said. "It sounded funny at the time, but it ended up being a pretty good strategy."

Sartain wins title, Lions take eighth

Peachtree Ridge had five wrestlers place and finished eighth as a team for its best finish in the five-year school history.

"I'm definitely proud of our team," Peachtree Ridge coach Danny Sinnott said. "They wrestled a great tournament and this is something to build on."

Andrew Sartain led the way by winning the 112-pound state championship over Cenntennial's Brian St. James 5-2.

"It feels amazing. It doesn't feel real," Sartain said. "Starting out as a freshman and seeing Kendall (Albert) win his first state title, I just wanted to get here. Once I did I set my goals to win it and I finally did."

Sam Kuntz took (189) took second and so did Matt Chapman (160).

"Those guys wrestled a heck of a tournament," Sinnott said.

Albert (140) placed third and Alan Gigolaeve (152) was fifth.

Sartain took a 2-0 lead after the first period. The lanky senior was able to get three back points to lead 5-0 heading into the third.

"I planned on taking it just one step at a time," Sartain said. "Once I got that first takedown, I slowed it down and made him work."

It wasn't until the final second that St. James was able to get a reversal, but Sartain held on for the win.

"Sartain wrestled great," Sinnott said. "He probably wrestled as good on top as I've seen him. He dominated on top."

New record for state champs in Gwinnett

It was a record year for Gwinnett County with its eight state champions. Gwinnett broke the old mark of seven, which was set last year.

The state champs were: Andrew Sartain (Peachtree Ridge), Frankie Miller (Dacula), Noah Hunt (Dacula), Carson Fields (Parkview), Taylor Knapp (Collins Hill), Scottie Forrester (Buford), Colin Genthert (Wesleyan) and Kelby Smith (Wesleyan).

With its eight state champions, Gwinnett finished with 37 state placers.