Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Mill Creek's Austin Hagen hugs his mother Cindy, left, and sister Ashley after winning the Class AAAAA 285-pound state title Saturday.
DULUTH — No one expected Austin Hagen to win.
Maybe he would put up a good fight for posterity, but he wasn’t supposed to win.
Up against the state’s top wrestler at 285 pounds, Hagen shocked the state in the Class AAAAA state final at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
The following wrestlers placed at this year’s traditional state wrestling tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center:
Sean Russell, Collins Hill, 103
Bazell Partridge, Collins Hill, 125
Zach Rindik, Wesleyan, 125
Chip Ness, Buford, 152
Tsvetomir Petrushev, Peachtree Ridge, 171
Michael Chapman, Peachtree Ridge, 215
Austin Hagen, Mill Creek, 285
Ryan Millhof, Archer, 103
Drew Ferguson-Mitchell, Collins Hill, 112
Dallas Brown, Mountain View, 119
Spencer Rickman, Collins Hill, 130
Joseph Doyague, Collins Hill, 135
Steven Bradtmueller, Collins Hill, 140
Aaron Reynolds, Dacula, 145
Zach Feuerbach, GAC, 160
Jared Hemmings, GAC, 171
Carl Rider, North Gwinnett, 189
Nick Holbert, Collins Hill, 215
Jacob Aiken-Phillips, Central Gwinnett, 285
Kevin Brou, Wesleyan, 285
Brandon Bullock, Dacula, 112
Ryan Mosley, Shiloh, 130
Tre Horton, Peachtree Ridge, 140
Steve Epps, North Gwinnett, 145
Andrew Krawulski, Collins Hill, 152
Rhett Delk, Wesleyan, 152
Michael Spikes, Collins Hill, 160
Matthew Connell, Collins Hill, 171
Connor Fitzpatrick, Wesleyan, 112
Tevin Timmons, Dacula, 119
Brandon Smith, Peachtree Ridge, 130
Tony Garren, North Gwinnett, 152
Mac Bennett, Collins Hill, 189
Kasean Cobbs-Walton, Central Gwinnett, 112
Denzel Harmon, Grayson, 119
Mac Shiver, Peachtree Ridge, 125
Brent Hornbuckle, Wesleyan, 140
Dustin Ellis, Collins Hill, 145
Turner Ables, Wesleyan, 145
Phillip Bowman, Dacula, 171
Josh Beane, Grayson, 189
DeQuan Olbert, Archer, 112
Robbie Kane, Parkview, 119
Zach Taylor, Wesleyan, 119
Chris Boulware, Buford, 135
Bradley Atkinson, Parkview, 140
Ryan McFall, Parkview, 145
John Mosley, Wesleyan, 171
Ernest Alexander, Archer, 189
Parker Fair, GAC, 215
The Mill Creek wrestler scored a takedown in overtime to beat defending state champion Jacob Aiken-Phillips from Central Gwinnett 3-1. He become the first state champion ever for Mill Creek.
“You always have to go out there thinking you’re going to win,” said Hagen, who will play football at Georgia Southern this fall. “Whether or not that happens, you have to think it.”
It was the first loss for Aiken-Phillips in two years. The Cornell commit came into Saturday’s state finals needing one win to tie the Gwinnett County single-season record. He finished the year 66-1.
Hagen finishes the year 35-2. Both of his losses were to Aiken-Phillips by a score of 7-4 and 6-3.
“With Austin, I think it was a mental thing,” Mill Creek coach Rodney Potter said. “He realized tonight is his last shot and he had nothing to lose.”
Lions claim two titles
Peachtree Ridge is developing a tradition of producing state champions. The Lions had two on Saturday, giving them seven all-time and at least one in six of the last seven years.
Tsvetomir Petrushev defended his title, while Michael Chapman ended his career with a championship.
Chapman failed to place the last two seasons at state, but this year locked up the 215-pound title with a 11-6 win over Collins Hill’s Nick Holbert.
“That was the hardest thing I have ever done,” said Chapman, who finished the year 51-0.
Petrushev wants to go down as one of the state’s best wrestlers. The Peachtree Ridge sophomore helped his case on Saturday.
Petrushev won his second Class AAAAA title with a 4-2 victory over Bennedictine’s Jeffery Holmes at 171 pounds.
“Nothing in life has come easy to me and neither was this match. It was tough,” Petrushev said.
Petrushev moved to the U.S. 10 years ago from Bulgaria. He picked up wrestling as a middle schooler and has blossomed in high school. Petrushev finished the year 30-0, but more importantly a two-time state champ.
“I want to win it two more times and make history and be a four-time state champ,” Petrushev said.
Wolves Rindik’s repeats
Zach Rindik didn’t win his second Class A state championship the way he wanted to, but he’ll still go down in Wesleyan history.
Rindik defeated Social Circle’s Marcus Burden 6-3 to claim the 125-pound title.
“It’s what I’ve worked for all year,” Rindik said. “I didn’t win it the way I wanted to, though. I wanted to pin him.”
Rindik pinned Burden at last week’s at the area and sectional tournaments.
It’s the fifth year in a row Wesleyan has had a state champ and the 10th since 2007. Rindik is the first two-time champ in the program’s history.
It’s quite a turnaround for the senior, who placed sixth two years ago.
“Last year’s title was bigger because I had less of an idea in my mind I would win it,” Rindik said. “This is one is still pretty special.”
All eight of Wesleyan’s state qualifiers placed. The Wolves finished fourth in the team standings. Kevin Brou was runner-up at 285 pounds. Rhett Delk placed third, Connor Fitzpatrick was fourth, Brent Hornbuckle and Turner Ables were fifth and John Mosley and Zack Taylor finished sixth.
Buford’s Ness wins title
Buford’s Chip Ness entered high school as a decorated youth wrestler, but his performance in Saturday’s Class AA topped them all.
Ness defeated Jefferson’s Jake Sherman 3-0 to win the 152-pound title.
“Nothing compares to this. Not even my first title as a youth,” the freshman said.
Ness was a five-time kids state champ and won some of the top national tournaments. However, his expectations were low when he entered high school.
“At the beginning of the year I was hoping just to place,” Ness said. “I was a freshman coming out of nowhere. I didn’t know what I could do. I was just hoping to make the finals, really.”
Ness went up 3-0 in the second period after a reversal and locked hands call.
“Once I was up three, I knew I could hold him down for two minutes to win it,” Ness said.
Ness finished the season 36-0 and is the fourth state champ in five years for Buford and sixth overall. He was one of two placers for the Wolves. Chris Boulware placed sixth at 135 pounds.
Archer, Mountain View must wait
Second-year programs Archer and Mountain View each put a wrestler in the state finals, but the up and coming programs will have to wait for their first state champ.
Archer’s Ryan Millhof lost in the 103-pound finals 3-2, while Mountain View’s Dallas suffered a 4-3 loss in overtime at 119.
Millhof’s loss was the first of the season as the freshman finishes the year 52-1. He joins six place finishers DeQuan Olbert and Ernest Alexander as the school’s first state placers.
Drought continues for GAC
Greater Atlanta Christian had two shots to get its first state champion on Saturday.
However, Zach Feuerbach and Jarred Hemmings lost their state finals match, making GAC 0-for-7 all-time in the finals.
Hemmings, a fourth-place finisher last year, took second at 171 pounds, while Feuerbach was runner-up at 160.
GAC’s Parker Fair placed sixth at 215 pounds.