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Area 7: A fight for No. 2

It's no surprise who the top team will be out of the Area 7-AAAAA duals this weekend. Collins Hill has staked its claim as not only the top team in the area but in the state.

The real battle will be for the No. 2 spot and a trip to Macon next week for the state duals.

"As much as we all hate to admit it, Collins Hill is No. 1," Peachtree Ridge coach Danny Sinnott said. "I don't think there's any doubt in anyone in the region's mind that they are No. 1. In my eyes they are No. 1 in the state, not just the region.

"There's pretty much a bunch of us battling for No. 2."

North Gwinnett, Peachtree Ridge and Forsyth Central, who qualified for state last year, are expected to battle it out for the second spot.

North is ranked No. 10 in Class AAAAA and Peachtree Ridge beat Forsyth Central earlier this season. However, North Forsyth and South Forsyth could be sleeper teams.

Collins Hill, which is No. 1 in AAAAA, is coming off an impressive third place finish at the Battlefield Duals in Virginia last weekend.

"There's no question they're the top team," North Gwinnett's Steve Hassenger said. "I don't see anyone in the state that can match up with them in a dual."

The Eagles are led by T.J. Mitchell and Taylor Knapp, while David Coffey and Joel Smith have turned in impressive years so far.

"North is a solid team and I don't underestimate them one bit," Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos said. "I think they can give us a challenge."

The Bulldogs lost to the Eagles 57-9 in a dual early in the season. North was without several wrestlers still participating in football, but it would be tough for them to make up nearly 50 points.

Since the loss, North has fared well in several tough tournaments, taking second at Sequoyah, fifth at Hewitt/Trussville, Ala., and ninth at Oviedo, Fla.

"We feel pretty confident that we got a good chance (to qualify for state)," Hassenger said. "We got everyone pretty healthy and we feel pretty competitive."

In the Area 8-AAAAA duals, Parkview has won the title the last four years and it could make it five in a row.

"We're seeded No. 1 and our goal is to place first," Parkview coach Tom Beuglas said.

"Whoever wins our region is in much better shape at state."

The Panthers have another strong team led by Carson Fields and Brian Farris. Clint Jones, Jason Hail and Josh Davis have also wrestled tough for Parkview.

Brookwood is the top contender for the No. 2 spot and could challenge Parkview for the area title. Shiloh and Grayson will also be in the mix.

Dacula travels to Clarke Central for the Area 8-AAAA duals.

The Falcons missed qualifying for the state meet last year, but return a strong team that could make a run.

"I think we got a great chance to qualify for the state meet," Dacula coach Jason Holcombe said. "Dacula has never had a team qualify, but I think we got a good shot this year."

Dacula lost to Jackson County in the semifinals last year and ended up in fourth place.

"We've had this marked on our calendar for a long time," Holcombe said.

This season the Falcons are ranked No. 5 in Class AAAA and Eastside is No. 1.

Both teams are the favorites for this weekend's tournament, but other schools like Jackson County, Loganville, Heritage and Alcovy could play a major role in who advances.

"You can't really count anybody out in this region." Holcombe said.

Dacula is 10-1 in duals this season with the only loss coming to No. 10 ranked North Gwinnett.

Frankie Miller (112) and Noah Hunt (119), who has been named most outstanding wrestler at two tournaments, have led the Falcons. Freshman Brandon Bullock (103) has stepped up big time for Dacula and Zeke Hunt (152), J.C. Hall (145), Vitaliy Yarmuratiy (140) and Westin Sand (189) have also been solid contributors.

"This is the most solid lineup Dacula has had from top to bottom," Holcombe said.

After falling to Lovett in the area finals two years in a row, Wesleyan got over the hump last year and defeated the Lions.

This year's duals, which will be hosted by Wesleyan, will likely feature the same two teams battling out.

"The last several years its come down to us and Lovett and we expect that to be again," first-year Wesleyan coach Jeff Plunk said. "All year we've wrestled AAAA and AAAAA competition and we haven't seen many AA schools. Hopefully we can win it."

The Wolves are 8-2 this season and have had several wrestlers contribute to the team's success. Colin Gentheret (152) and Kelby Smith (215) have been Wesleyan's top wrestlers, while Michael Douglas (189), Brooks Spraetz (103), Josh Jeng (125) and Kyle Hageneau (171) have wrestled well.

SideBar: Area Duals

· What: Area 8-AAAAA duals

· When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

· Where: Parkview High School

· What: Area 7-AAAAA duals

· When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

· Where: Duluth High School

· What: Area 8-AAAA duals

· When: Friday, 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.

· Where: Clarke Central High School

· What: Area 3-AA

· When: Friday 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.

· Where: Wesleyan School