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Collins Hill dominant in defense of area crown

DULUTH — Collins Hill wrestlers took another step toward a fourth consecutive state duals championship by winning their seventh consecutive Area 7-AAAAA meet Saturday at Duluth High.

The Eagles, who last year won area by allowing three opponents a combined 10 team points, this time surrendered only 18, defeating Mill Creek 72-6 and Meadowcreek 78-0, then turning back North Gwinnett, 65-12.

AREA 7-AAAAA DUALS

COLLINS HILL 65, NORTH GWINNETT 12

At Duluth

103 pounds: Sean Russell (Collins Hill) def. Hunter Franklin (North Gwinnett) 14-5

112: Drew Ferguson (Collins Hill) pin John Bowen (North Gwinnett) 2:29

119: Todd Headlum (Collins Hill) pin Donavan Haynes (North Gwinnett) 2:48

125: Bazell Partridge (Collins Hill) pin Jay Allen (North Gwinnett) 1:15

130: Spencer Rickman (Collins Hill) pin Wesley Gladd (North Gwinnett) 1:25

135: Joseph Doyague (Collins Hill) def. Jeffrey Byrd (North Gwinnett) 11-2

140: Steven Bradtmueller (Collins Hill) pin Steven Epps (North Gwinnett) 1:45

145: Tony Garren (North Gwinnett) pin Dustin Ellis (Collins Hill) 2:59

152: Andrew Krawulski (Collins Hill) pin Charles O’Rear (North Gwinnett) 3:30

160: Michael Spikes (Collins Hill) pin Dylan Duggan (North Gwinnett) :48

171: Matthew Connell (Collins Hill) def. John Roark (North Gwinnett) 5-0

189: Carl Rider (North Gwinnett) pin Jonathan Gilbert (Collins Hill) :56

215: Nick Holbert (Collins Hill) pin Brett Byerly (North Gwinnett) 1:07

285: Zachary Carmin (Collins Hill) pin Alex Stoehr (North Gwinnett) 1:35

Next is next weekend’s state tournament at the Centreplex in Macon, where the Eagles will vie for a fifth title overall.

“We consider (area) the first round of state,” Eagles coach Josh Stephen said upon beating North. “You don’t even get there if you don’t get it done here.”

The Eagles got it done in a big way Saturday, winning the championship over North by claiming 12 of 14 bouts, including nine by pin. It all started with freshman Sean Russell’s 14-5 decision over North’s Hunter Franklin for a 4-0 lead.

“I knew getting after (Franklin) would make our team do better,” said Russell (32-3). “It’s a domino thing. Once you start off with a win, everyone wants to match that.”

Russell’s win proved contagious, as five teammates’ pins and Joseph Doyague’s 11-2 verdict over Jeffrey Byrd at 135 put the Eagles ahead of the Bulldogs 38-0. Tony Garren put the Bulldogs on the board, however, with a pin of Dustin Ellis in 2:59 that made it 38-6.

“I knew I had to step up and make something happen,” said Garren, a senior. “I was a little surprised, but glad.”

Before the Bulldogs won their only other bout, the Eagles earned a decision and two more pins, including the match’s quickest, senior Michael Spikes’ 48-second flattening of Dylan Duggan at 160.

“I went out there with a plan and knew what I’d do right off the bat,” said Spikes (22-7). “That combination (of moves) has given me a lot of quick pins all year.”

Carl Rider brought North within 53-12 with his 56-second pin of Jonathan Gilbert at 189, but the Bulldogs would come no closer. Rider improved to 27-0 with his win.

“I had a good set-up,” Rider said of maneuvering Gilbert. “I countered (for the pin) off his combination (of moves).”

North coach Phil Daniel, whose team finished third last season, applauded his wrestlers’ qualification for state as runners-up, their first time at state since 2005.

“We went over a big hurdle considering (in 2009) we didn’t win a match at area and were eliminated in the first round,” he said. “We’ve come a long way.”

He hinted teams will have difficulty contending with Collins Hill in Macon.

“Collins Hill keeps coming at you,” he said.