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Eagles seek revenge in state wrestling finals

Photo: David McGregor  Collins Hill's Sean Russell works a move on Brookwood's Drew McCorkle during their 106 lb. quarterfinal match at the Arena at Gwinnett Center during the GHSA AAAAA state wrestling tournament on Friday morning.

Photo: David McGregor Collins Hill's Sean Russell works a move on Brookwood's Drew McCorkle during their 106 lb. quarterfinal match at the Arena at Gwinnett Center during the GHSA AAAAA state wrestling tournament on Friday morning.

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Photo: David McGregor Collins Hill's Drew Ferguson takes time to look at the clock while beating Lownde's Chad Maldonaldo during the quarterfinals of the 120 pound weight class during the AAAAA GHSA wrestling tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center on Friday.

DULUTH -- Collins Hill put a Class AAAAA record seven wrestlers in last year's state finals.

The Eagles only won two state championships, but several of them will get a shot at another title tonight.

Collins Hill has six wrestlers in today's state finals at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

"We kind of blew it out of the water with the team title last year, but it was bittersweet for some because they lost the individual titles," Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said. "They have a chance to come back and win it."

All of the finalists will boost Collins Hill's shot at winning a fifth consecutive traditional state championship.

The Eagles lead after day two with 152 points, while Camden County is second (126.5), Archer is third (84), Lowndes is fourth (80.5), North Gwinnett is fifth (64.5), Brookwood is tied for sixth (55.5) with Kennesaw Mountain and Peachtree Ridge is eighth (49).

"I think we have a good cushion," Stephen said. "One more day. We have to finish it off right. We've had two good days, but we need a third."

Collins Hill has four wrestlers seeking redemption in the state finals.

Ryan Millhof, Drew Ferguson-Mitchell, Spencer Rickman and Steven Bradtmueller lost last season. Sophomore Sean Russell seeks his second state title, while Andrew Krawulski is in the finals after taking third a year ago.

"It feels good (to be back). It's a little nerve racking," said Millhof, who lost to Russell last year as a freshman at Archer. "I've been the favorite before and didn't get the outcome I wanted."

Millhof will face Brookwood's Wyatt Jozwowski in the 113-pound finals.

Ferguson-Mitchell won a state title as a sophomore, but lost a close decision last year as a junior.

"I've been working a lot harder," Ferguson-Mitchell said. "I hate losing. When I lose, I want to get it back."

The senior will wrestle Milton's Phillip Anderson in the 120-pound finals.

This will be Rickman's third trip to the finals. He's lost the last two years and will face Shiloh's Ryan Mosley, who beat him last week at the East Sectional, in the 138-pound finals.

Bradtmueller will wrestle Peachtree Ridge's Mac Shiver, who he's defeated twice this season, in the 132-pound finals.

"That's the best feeling, knowing they have a chance to win it again," Stephen said.

Collins Hill qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament and all nine will place. Matthew Connell and Zach Carmin lost in the semifinals and will battle back for third place. John Bradtmueller lost in the quarterfinals, but fought back to reach the medal round.

"He did a great job coming back," Stephen said. "I thought kids wrestled tough and did well."

While four of Collins Hill's wrestlers are seeking redemption in the state title matches, the Eagles as a team are also trying to prove something. Collins Hill lost to Camden in the dual state finals on a tiebreaker and since then has been trying to prove it's still the best team in the state.

"Especially since we lost at state duals, we're not going to lose twice," Ferguson-Mitchell said.