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Humble Hage won four wrestling state titles at Parkview

When Scott Hage won his fourth straight wrestling state championship nearly 20 years ago, he pointed to the ceiling and walked off the mat.

In today's sports world, it's a common gesture.

To this day it's Hage's only regret of his decorated wrestling career at Parkview.

"I regret that. It was stupid," he said. "To me that was showboating."

After that win, Hage became the state's first Class AAAA four-time state champion in wrestling. He won countless matches and made it a point to never humiliate his opponent. He's considered one of the state's all-time great wrestlers and is the sports first member of the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame, which will induct him on Saturday at the Gwinnett Braves Stadium.

"There's guys from the NFL, Major League Baseball, to me that's just overwhelming to be in a group like that," Hage said. "It's humbling to be in there with them."

If it wasn't for a twist of fate, Hage may have never become a four-time state champ. He was a kids state winner in eighth grade, but wasn't expected to crack the varsity lineup as a freshman. There was a tough, experienced senior ahead of him in his weight class. However, that same senior participated in a prank to vandalize the school and was kicked off the team.

"It kind of opened up a spot for me to move in. It started from there," Hage said.

At the Brookwood Invitational before Christmas, Hage beat a state champion.

"For me, that was the turning point," Hage said. "It started to click for me."

Hage faced Robert Thornton, a three-time state runner-up from LaGrange, at the North Metro tournament and lost by a narrow margin.

"I knew the goal was within reach and started training hard," Hage said.

Hage reached the finals where he faced Thornton agin. He used a reversal in the final seconds and put him on his back. With less than 10 seconds left, he pinned him to win his first state title in 1988.

"Going in I was very nervous," Hage said. "I remember thinking if I can just win the first one I'll be the man. I can do it again. As soon as I got up I thought 'Oh man, I have to do this three more years.' Honestly, I trained like a mad man after that."

Hage had no choice but to be a good wrestler. His father Brian Hage was a legendary coach in Georgia that won two state titles at Redan while Hage was in elementary school.

"I wouldn't have accomplished anything without coach Dennis Stromie and my dad Brian Hage," he said. "They were instrumental in putting me in situations to be successful."

Hage went on to win state the next three years, setting Parkview records for most pins in a season (31) and a career (107) and most takedowns in a career (524).

He made a name for himself nationally by placing as a junior and senior at the freestyle junior competition.

Hage graduated from Parkview in 1991 and earned a scholarship to West Virginia, which was a rarity for Georgia wrestlers back then and a top 10 program in the nation.

"It's led to some good things in my life," Hage said.

Hage qualified for the NCAA tournament as a freshman, but was knocked out in the first round. Before the start of his sophomore year he blew out his left knee and had to have nine months of rehabilitation. Just days before the start of his junior year, Hage injured his right knee. He rehabbed for the next few months and was able to to return to the mat by Christmas. He was able to qualify for the NCAA tournament, but did not place. He came back his senior year injury-free and qualified for nationals again.

"At the end of my career in high school, I was a good wrestler," Hage said. "In college, I was a good, but I wasn't a great wrestler."

Hage didn't have the kind of success he would have liked to on the wrestling mat, but it did open other doors. He met is wife Donna at West Virginia and they have a daughter named Rane. Hage received his bachelor's degree in English and got certified to be a teacher. He's now an assistant principal at a middle school in Harris County, W. Va.

"I'm never going to leave West Virginia. I have a wonderful wife and she wants to live in West Virginia," Hage said. "I try to keep an eye on what's happening. I try to know what's going on back home."

Hage still follows Georgia wrestling by watching some of the top teams on the Internet. He's also pulled up some of his old high school matches.

"I've gone on there and watched and have been greatly embarrassed because I see so many mistakes," Hage said.

It's been more than 20 years since Hage wrestled at Parkview, but his name still resonates a meaning of dominance in the state. Only a handful of wrestlers have won four championships in the state's highest classification, including his brother Sean.

"It makes me very proud to have grown up in Gwinnett County. It showcases a lot of talent," Hage said. "I'm a wrestler and I still think of myself as a wrestler."