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In the Hunt
State title defense aim

DACULA - Hearing some of the stories about Noah Hunt, he seems better suited as an extreme sport athlete than a wrestler.

The Dacula wrestler has been known to scale 30-foot trees, jump from innertube to innertube behind a boat at the lake or go knee boarding in the pasture near his home.

"He's definitely the life of the party," Dacula coach Jason Holcombe said. "He's one of those kids when he steps in a room he becomes the center of attention."

But it's on the wrestling mat where people have really begun to notice Hunt.

He upset defending state champion Paul Stafford from Eastside last season to win the Class AAAA state title. Dacula moved to Class AAAAA this season where Hunt is one of a handful of wrestlers trying to win the 119-pound title next month.

"The competition is tougher, not that AAAA is easier than AAAAA," Holcombe said. "But I think this year with the addition of sectionals it's going to be interesting. I think Noah has a great chance."

Not many people gave Hunt a shot last season in the finals. Stafford was the heavy favorite, considering he beat Hunt the previous two times, including the week before at the area finals.

"I had already wrestled him twice and lost to him, so no one gave me a chance, no one," Hunt said. "But I came out there ready to go and ended up beating him 11-3. It was nice."

Hunt spent the summer wrestling freestyle with Team Georgia. He went to Fargo, N.D., a prestigious national tournament where he was winless, but lost to an Iowa state champ by one point and to a Washington state champ by two.

The senior has a 27-1 record as Dacula (16-1) heads into Saturday's Area 8-AAAAA duals at Parkview. His one loss is to a North Carolina state champion at an out-of-state tournament, which forced him to adjust his goals for the season.

"I'm trying to stay undefeated in Georgia and win out from here," Hunt said.

Hunt won the Gwinnett County championship last week after taking second the previous season. It's one of the major tournaments he wanted to win this year along with area, after taking second last year, and of course state.

Collins Hill's T.J. Mitchell, who beat Hunt last year in the county finals, and Camden County's Sam Spradlin, a defending state champ, are the early season favorites for this year's state crown.

"T.J., I wrestled him at county and he was at a different level than I was last year, but I've improved a lot," Hunt said. "I'm going to be looking for him."

It's hard to imagine Hunt would take a sport like wrestling so seriously. After all it requires a lot of mental toughness and off the mat he seems like any other hyperactive kid.

"You see me off the mat and wonder if I'm any good because I'm not serious about anything ever. I just always joke around and get myself in trouble," Hunt said. "(Coach Holcombe) is starting to learn I'm going to go out there and wrestle no matter what I'm doing before a match."

Hunt is one of 12 kids in his family that features seven boys and five girls. Two of his younger brothers, Zeke and Isaiah, are also on the wrestling team. Hunt is No. 6 in the family, which may have something to do with him always being the center of attention.

"I just like to have fun," Hunt said.

During his ninth-grade year at Stone Mountain when Holcombe was calling for the team to come eat dinner, everyone just laughed and pointed to the trees.

That's where Hunt was hanging from a branch 30-feet in the air.

Over the summer when he was at the lake, he played his personal version of leap frog. Jump from innertube to innertube behind a boat.

In the winter time he goes knee boarding in his family's pasture, hooking a board with a rope behind a pickup truck and going skidding across the wet grass.

"(Coach Holcombe) never wants to hear what I did over the weekend," Hunt said.

Despite his antics, Hunt will go down as one of the top wrestlers in Dacula history. He's one of five state champions the Falcons have produced and could break former drill partner Frankie Miller's career wins record and four-time state champion Paul Stansbury's pin record.

"Sometimes it's hilarious how serious I can be and he'll just come over and smile at me and it changes my whole demeanor," Holcombe said. "He's one of those kids that any coach would love to have in the room."

SideBar: The Hunt File

· Who: Noah Hunt

· Sport: Wrestling

· School: Dacula

· Class: Senior

· Favorite TV show: "SpongeBob SquarePants"

· Favorite sports team: Georgia Tech

· Dream job: High school teacher and coach

· What's the toughest part about wrestling? "Cutting weight, definitely. When anyone asks me that I say cutting weight."

· Noteworthy:

· Holds 27-1 record with 19 pins, including Gwinnett County championship this year

· Won Class AAAA 119-pound state title last year with a 47-4 record

· Has a 149-32 career record

· Daily Post all-county and Super Six selection

· One of 12 kids in family

· Maintains 3.0 GPA