DULUTH For the last three years, Collins Hill's Jamie Hertica wrestled on the junior varsity. He was behind three-time state champion Taylor Knapp and knew he would have only one chance to crack the starting lineup.
He's making the most out of his one shot his senior season.
Hertica upset state finals favorite Zach George from Grayson in the second round of the 152-pound weight class on Thursday. The win puts him in today's quarterfinals of the Class AAAAA tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center along with 12 of his Collins Hill teammates.
"I've improved and this is it. This is the game," Hertica said. "I'm a senior and it doesn't hit you until the last couple matches of your career. I'm just going out giving it my all."
Hertica improved his record to 39-8 with a third-period pin over George, but it's been a bumpy season. He won the Toshiba Midwest Classic in Kansas City earlier this year, but took third at the Area 7-AAAAA meet two weeks ago.
"He's improved a lot since two weeks ago," Collins Hill coach Cliff Ramos said. "He's on a mission. I hope he can continue it."
Hertica joined Drew Ferguson (103 pounds), Bazell Partridge (112), Joseph Doyague (119), T.J. Mitchell (125), Steven Bradtmueller (130), Devante Brown (135), Allen Willard (140), Joel Smith (145), Mac Bennett (189), C.J. Collins (215) and Thomas Delain (285) in the quarterfinals.
"You always want perfection and we wanted to get 14, but I'm happy with 12," Ramos said. "It's a long way from being over."
Collins Hill was at the top of the Class AAAAA standings with 95.5 points, followed by Pope (69), Camden County (60.5), East Paulding (56) and Valdosta (53).
"Pope has the best individual draws to get in the finals," Ramos said. "We're not getting any help from our friends around the state. They keep winning close matches."
The three-day tournament resumes today at 8:30 a.m. The quarterfinals are scheduled for 11 a.m. and the semifinals at 7 p.m.
Gwinnett County had 13 other wrestlers qualify for the Class AAAAA quarterfinals. Dacula had three with Brandon Bullock, Zeke Hunt and Phillip Bowman. Brookwood had Sean Thomas and Chris Roman, Parkview sent Kevin Ulmer and Matt Johnson and North Gwinnett had Greg Epps and Carl Rider. Shiloh's Ryan Mosley, Grayson's Nick Isburgh, Peachtree Ridge's Tsvetomir Petrushev and Central Gwinnett's Jacob Aiken-Phillips also made it the quarters.
Gwinnett wrestlers meet in quarters
Gwinnett County wrestlers will match up with each other in two quarterfinal matches today. The most interesting of the group is at 125 pounds where defending state champion T.J. Mitchell from Collins Hill will take on Grayson's Nick Isburgh, a third-place finisher from last year.
The other matchup is Collins Hill's Steven Bradtmueller vs. Parkview's Kevin Ulmer, who was a state champion in Class AAAA last year.
Bears' Adams reaches quarters
First-year school Mountain View had four wrestlers reach the second round of Thursday's tournament, but only Thomas Adams advanced to the third round.
"I knew we had some tough draws, but we lost some close matches," Mountain View coach Jim Gassman said.
Adams defeated a No. 2 and No. 1 seed in the 140-pound weight class to reach today's Class AAA quarterfinals.
"He's underweight, but he wrestles smart and goes hard," Gassman said.
Archer's Sesay still alive
First-year program Archer had five wrestlers qualify for the state tournament, but only one of them survived the first day.
Varsay Seasay won his first-round match at 145 pounds and then lost in the second round. He'll have a chance to battle through the consolation bracket today.
"At the beginning of the year I wasn't sure if we would have anyone make it to the Arena, so to have five I was pretty happy," Archer coach Tom Beuglas said.
Daquan Olbert (103), Romeo Palmer (160), Ernest Alexander (189) and Hunter McCleskey (215) were put out in the first round.
Wesleyan advances 11
Last year's Class A runner-up Wesleyan put 11 of its 12 wrestlers in today's quarterfinals.
The Wolves got wins from Conor Fitzpatrick (103), Zach Taylor (112), Zack Rindik (119), Alex Sierota (125), Brent Hornbuckle (135), Rhett Delk (140), Josh Tolman (145), Andrew Whitehead (152), John Mosley (160), Matt Barlow (171) and Jimmy Dugal (285).
"I'm very happy with what we got," Wesleyan coach Jeff Plunk said.
This year's dual state champion Bremen put 12 in the quarterfinals to lead the Class A standings with 48 points. Commerce (38) was second, Gordon Lee (37.5) was third and Wesleyan (31) was in fourth.
"I think we can compete with them," Plunk said. "Obviously, they are the favorite."