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Eagles seek another title

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

When Collins Hill began its dominance of high school wrestling four years ago, Joseph Doyague was just a freshman breaking into the lineup.

Now a senior, Doyague has the opportunity to finish his career unbeaten at the Class AAAAA dual state tournament.

Doyague and the Eagles will go for their fourth-straight title this week at Mountain View High School, a week after winning the traditional title for the fourth time.

WRESTLING

What: Dual state tournament

When: Today-Saturday

Locations:

• Class AAAAA — Mountain View

• Class AA — Toombs County

• Class A — Bremen

“The fact that I get to do that is really cool,” Doyague said earlier this season. “Not many people get a chance to do that.”

Collins Hill has six seniors this year, but Doyague is the only one who has been in the lineup for the last three dual state titles.

“They’ve won seven state championships. What percentage of kids in the country have experienced that — winning state very year in high school?” Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said. “They will look back on that later in life and realize how big of a deal it really is. They can go out and really set their mark.”

The state duals were originally scheduled for Jan. 14-15 at the Macon Centreplex. However, the week-long ice storm that hit metro Atlanta forced the delay of the tournament.

Now comes the hard part for coaches, keeping their wrestlers motivated to wrestle one more week of the season.

“The Gwinnett Arena is always the last stop. It’s kind of hard to get them back together,” Stephen said. “But it’s an opportunity to win another state title and that’s just as important.”

Collins Hill hasn’t lost a dual to a Georgia team since November 2008 and are the heavy favorites to repeat as state champs. They begin their title defense against Stephenson in the first round. Camden County, which took second at last week’s traditional tournament, appears to be the biggest challenger.

“For the guys that didn’t have as good of a tournament last week, we all can go out as winners a week later,” Stephen said. “If we don’t finish the season the right way then it will feel like a disappointment.”

Collins Hill is one of six Gwinnett County teams that qualified for the state duals. North Gwinnett is in the tourney for the second time in its 10 years of existence. The Bulldogs are coming off a sixth-place finish at last week’s traditional tournament, its highest ever in Class AAAAA. North, which is led by Carl Rider, Tony Garren and Steve Epps, will face East Coweta in the first round.

Archer and Parkview qualified for the state duals out of Area 8. The Panthers failed to make the tourney last year for the first time. The Panthers will rely on a strong senior class, led by Robbie Kane and Brian McAraw, in the first round against Kennessaw Mountain.

Tom Beuglas helped guide Parkview to eight state tournament berths and now has second-year program Archer making its first trip. The Tigers, which are led by freshman phoenom Ryan Millhof, get Lowndes in the first round.

Greater Atlanta Christian is having the best season in school history. The Spartans qualified for the state duals for the first time. Now their reward is getting perennial power Jefferson in the Class AA tournament. The Dragons have won the last nine dual state championships.

GAC placed 10th at last week’s state meet thanks to three state placers, including runner-ups Zach Feuerbach and Jared Hemmings.

Wesleyan will face Holy Innocents’ in the first round of the Class A tournament today. The six-team tournament is just one day. A win over Holy Innocents’ will send the Wolves against two-time defending state champion Bremen in the second round. Led by two-time state champion Zach Rindik, this is the seventh year Wesleyan has qualified for the state duals. The Wolves lost to Bremen in the 2009 finals and won the title in 2007 while in Class AA.