Collins Hill ready to gauge team at Kyle Maynard Duals

Josh Stephen isn't sure what kind of dual wrestling team he has this season.

The Collins Hill coach will find out on Saturday when the Eagles host the eighth annual Kyle Maynard Duals. The tournament will feature some of the state's top programs and nationally ranked Brandon (Fla.).

"It will be a good gauge to see where we are," Stephen said.

Collins Hill has wrestled at tournaments in California and Kansas City the last two weeks. With such a young team, the Eagles have taken their lumps. Stephen is hoping it will start to pay off in the next month as Collins Hill prepares for the state duals in January. The Eagles were runner-up at the state duals last season, ending their four-year run as state champs. They won the traditional state championship for the fifth time last season.

"I'm still confident. It's hard to gauge when you're hitting the high level competition," Stephen said. "We have to be able to not give up pins and bonus points. We're not ready right now, but through this break we'll get ready for the state duals."

The Kyle Maynard Duals has expanded from 16 to 24 teams this season. There will be eight pools of three teams. The pool play will determine the eight teams for gold, silver and bronze brackets.

Collins Hill has lost to Brandon (Fla.) two of the last three years in the finals. Brandon is ranked No. 5 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News.

"They are pretty strong. They have a good group and will be the heavy favorite," Stephen said. "They will be the top team, but the majority of the teams will be really competitive."

Gwinnett schools North Gwinnett, Meadowcreek, Peachtree Ridge and Buford will be at the tournament.

Defending state champions Bremen, Gordon Lee and Pope will also be at the tournament. Roswell, Kennesaw Mountain, Cass and McEachern are among the other strong teams at the tournament.

Buford and Pope are in the same pool, setting up a matchup between two of the nation's top wrestlers at 182 pounds. Buford's Chip Ness is a two-time state champion and Pope's Brooks Climmons is a 2011 state champ. Climmons is ranked No. 1 in the nation at 182 pounds and Ness is No. 9. Both were runner-up at freestyle nationals this summer in Fargo, N.D. Kennesaw Mountain's Jonathan Rivera is ranked No. 16 at 182 pounds as well.

The tournament is named after Kyle Maynard, a 2004 Collins Hill grad who wrestled despite being born a congenital amputee. Maynard is a motivational speaker and will give a speech at the tournament around 1 p.m. He's a two-time ESPY award winner for best athlete with a disability. He received the second award this year after climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January.


What: Kyle Maynard Duals

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.

Where: Collins Hill High School


-- Kyle Maynard is scheduled to speak to the crowd around 1 p.m.

-- The finals will start at 6 p.m.