Hot Collins Hill heads west for wrestling challenge

Collins Hill has rolled through some of the top teams in Georgia and the Southeast early in the season.

Now the Eagles will see where they stand against some of the nation's best at the Toshiba Midwest Classic in Kansas City this weekend.

"I love going to these national caliber tournaments," Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos said. "It gets the kids good exposure. The competition you get there is incredible."

The 32-team tournament features eight teams that won state titles last season, 15 that finished in the top three in their state and 16 nationally ranked wrestlers.

Collins Hill, which is ranked No. 21 by Amateur Wrestling News, fits that description to a T. The Eagles are the two-time Class AAAAA state champions and have two of the nation's top wrestlers in Joel Smith (Arizona State commitment) and T.J. Mitchell (Virginia Tech). The duo are ranked No. 9 and No. 17, respectively, by InterMat.com.

This is the fourth year Collins Hill will participate in the Midwest Classic. The Eagles took eighth in 2006 and have placed third the last two years.

"Our goal is to win and we have to be at full strength to do that," Ramos said. "Park Hill, the No. 16 team in the country is the favorite. If we're at full strength I think we got a shot."

Collins Hill is 11-0 in duals this season has not been challenged. The closest team to come to the Eagles was last-years state runner-up Pope, who lost to the Eagles 38-14.

The Eagles won the Cleveland Duals in Tennessee last weekend, winning by an average of 59 points.

"We really wrestled well. Our kids wrestled as well as they could against Father Ryan (in the finals)," Ramos said.

This is the second of four out-of-state tournaments for Collins Hill this season. The Eagles will also wrestle in the PowerAde Invitational and the Final Four Duals in Pennsylvania.