Collins Hill rolls to eighth straight traditional area title

NORCROSS -- There weren't many surprises at the top of the podium for the individual weight class and team championships at the Area 7-AAAAA traditional wrestling championships.

Collins Hill qualified all 14 of its individuals for next week's Class AAAAA state sectionals in Tifton, including seven weight-class champions to claim its eighth straight area team title Saturday at Norcross.

And the top seed won 12 of the 14 weight class championships.

Still, the day wasn't without drama, with seven championship matches being decided by three points or less, including a few that had an impact on the team standings.

But there was no catching Collins Hill, which rolled to yet another team title with 281 points, easily outpointing runner-up North Gwinnett's total of 212.5.

"Winning is always good, especially (heading into) the postseason," Eagles coach Josh Stephen said. "That's when you really want to see people wrestling well. We got everybody in (to sectionals), we had seven champs, five runners-up, a third and a fourth. Obviously, it's a great team effort to get everybody through. ... There's only a few teams that can do that."

Spencer Rickman led the Eagles' charge with pins in his first two matches before fending off Peachtree Ridge's Brandon Smith for a 7-2 victory in the 138-pound title match to earn the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler Award.

Joining Rickman atop the podium for Collins Hill were Sam Russell at 106 pounds, Ryan Millhof at 113, Drew Ferguson at 120, Steven Bradmueller at 132, Matthew Connell at 160 and Andrew Krawalski at 170.

While North finished as runner up in the team standings, Saturday was still a good day for the Bulldogs.

Five wrestlers took home area titles -- the most for a North team in Phil Daniel's four years as coach -- including wins in two of the day's most exciting matches.

Clinging to a 5-3 lead late in the third period of the 126-pound final, Dalton Daniel looked like he was about to be taken down by Collins Hill's John Bradtmueller to tie up the match.

But Daniel managed to keep his feet moving and stay in a neutral position, and held on to win the match by that score.

Then, Michael Goulard battled Collins Hill's Michael Roquet in a back-and-forth 145-pound final, but trailed 7-5 with time winding down in the third period.

But Goulard made a move to not only get a two-point reversal, but also earned two back points for a near pin to vault in front 9-7, and held on for a dramatic 9-8 victory that brought chants of "Gooooo-lard" from the North partisans in the crowd.

Phil Daniel said those two matches -- along with the Bulldogs other championship wins by Jalen Brooks at 195, Brett Byerly at 220 and Alex Stoehr at 285 -- symbolized the effort his team has been giving all year.

"My boys, they've been killing themselves all year long, and they never gave up," Daniel said. "That's just our philosophy. We don't quit."

Neither did Meadowcreek, even trailing Peachtree Ridge by a point heading into the championship matches with just two finalists to the Lions' five and head coach Richard Schumacher relegated to the stands after an argument with an official in the consolation finals.

But the Mustangs still had a chance heading into the 182-pound final, which went to overtime with Ryan Moore and Peachtree Ridge's Abel Leonardo tied at 1-1.

Moore not only got the needed takedown to win the match, he managed to put Leonardo on his back to earn the pinfall. Moore is the first wrestler from Meadowcreek to win an area title since 2001.

The extra three team points were enough to vault the Mustangs into third place -- their highest finish in years -- with 153 points, just one point ahead of the fourth-place Lions.

"These kids work so hard," Schumacher said. "They listen to (assistant) Coach (Melton) Hardee and myself, they do what we ask of them and they win. It doesn't get any better than that."

Aside from Moore, Peachtree Ridge's Tre Horton was the only other individual champion not from Collins Hill or North when he outpointed the Eagles' Anthony Codella 8-2 to win the title at 152 pounds.


Gary 2 years, 2 months ago

Congratulations to the Bulldogs wrestlers for placing second in the Region 7-5A Tournament Championship, held recently at Norcross High School! Congratulations also to Coach Daniel and his assistant coaches and staff for properly preparing these student athletes to do this well throughout the year and especially at tournament time! People, outside the North Gwinnett community, are starting to realize that the North Gwinnett student athletes don't quit and they have the tenacity of Bulldogs, their mascot and nickname. Watch out green team. Good luck, Bulldogs, in the state wrestling tournament!


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