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Eagles jump out to big first-day lead at state wrestling

DULUTH - Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos stressed the importance of pins at the state tournament during Wednesday's practice.

His Eagles showed they were listening on the opening day of the Class AAAAA tournament on Thursday.

Collins Hill had seven wrestlers win by pin and all 13 advanced to today's quarterfinals at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

"That was a good first round," Ramos said. "We've never had 13 in the quarterfinals."

Collins Hill was in first place in Class AAAAA after the first day with 47 points, while Pope was second with 23 points. Centennial was third (18.5) and Union Grove was fourth (18).

The three-day tournament resumes today at 9 a.m. The quarterfinals are at 11:15 a.m. and the semifinals are scheduled for 7 p.m.

"We've got a long way to go. Nobody has even placed yet," Ramos said.

The Eagles got pins from Bazell Partridge (103 pounds), T.J. Mitchell (119), Joel Smith (140), Nick Holbert (171), Mac Bennett (189), C.J. Collins (215) and Thomas DeLain (285).

"Those pins were big, but we also got some tech falls and major decisions," Ramos said.

Caleb Sawchuk (112), John Allgood (125), Allen Willard (130), Sam Hoppenbrouwer (145), Gary Tiller (152) and Taylor Knapp (160) were all victorious for the Eagles.

Parkview had five of its nine qualifiers advance. Robbie Kane (112), Alex Hillis (135), Alex Graham (140), Jesse Forte (160) and Matt Elakatt (285) were all victorious. Elakatt edged out a 1-0 victory.

Peachtree Ridge had seven tournament qualifiers, but only three advanced to the quarterfinals.

The Lions' Alan Gigolaev (160), Matt Chapman (171) and Sam Kuntz (189) were all state placers last season and all three advanced. Gigolaev and Kuntz won by pin.

Other Gwinnett County winners on Thursday were Dacula's Noah Hunt (119), Mill Creek's Josh Harrison (130) and Austin Hagen (285), South Gwinnett's Rasheed Manson (171), Shiloh's Lucas Austin (145) and Central Gwinnett's Jacob Aiken-Phillips (285).

Freshman not intimidated

North Gwinnett's Carl Rider looked like a state tournament veteran and not a rookie in Thursday's opening round.

The freshman pinned Creekview's Robert Johnson in the first period to advance to the quarterfinals.

"It just feels great," Rider said of the win. "I've got nothing to lose. Anything I can accomplish here is just huge."

Rider, who became the first North freshman to win a region title in Class AAAAA, improved his record to 48-12. The freshman also took second at Gwinnett County and at last week's state sectional.

Nilson uses OT for win

Brookwood's Corbin Nilson used an overtime takedown to beat Lassiter's Zack Walker 3-1 on Wednesday.

Nilson was one of three Broncos to advance today's quarterfinals along with Joe Epps (130) by pin and Kyle Smith (152).

No sweat

Grayson's Zach George had the easiest match of the day for the Rams.

The junior advanced to today's quarterfinals after a forfeit in Thursday's opening round.

George was one of four Grayson wrestlers to advance in the state tourney.

Nick Isburgh (112) won by pin, while Jack Dunster (145) and Paul Ardilla (189) also won.

Buford sends three to quarters

Buford's Billy Anderton (135), Nick Voss (145) and Scotie Forrester (152) won their first round matches in Class AA, advancing to today's quarterfinals.

GAC's Travis Elrod (130) also advanced.

Olympic medalist to speak at FCA breakfast

Nate Carr Sr., a bronze medalist at the 1988 Olympics, will speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes breakfast prior to the start of Saturday's state tournament.

The FCA gathering will take place at 7:45 a.m. at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce and the cost is $10.

Carr was a three-time NCAA champion at Iowa State University before going on to compete internationally and in the Olympics.