Staff Photo: John Bohn North Gwinnett's Jalen Brooks, left, and Duluth's Alex Brown wrestle in the 220 pound weight class match during Area 7-AAAAAA Wrestling Championships held Saturday at Norcross High School. Brooks won this 220 pound championship match.
NORCROSS -- Though it wasn't nearly as large of a margin as it has been for the better part of the last decade and a half, the result for this season's Area 7-AAAAAA traditional wrestling championships was the same.
Never mind that Collins Hill managed just five individual weight-class champions and qualified 10 wrestlers for next week's Class AAAAAA state sectional meet, below its normal standard.
Head coach Josh Stephen was perfectly happy with the Eagles taking posting 225.5 points to edge North Gwinnett for another team title by just four points.
"When you've got a nine-team tournament and a good team like North (included), it's going to get close because they're going to put a lot of their kids in the finals just like we are," Stephen said. "And they're hungry. They're going to get after it, and everybody gets up for region.
"A win is a win. We still won a region. We still haven't lost (in a long time). So, yeah, they stepped up and got it done."
Collins Hill's lower weight class representatives particularly got the job done, as the Eagles claimed the area title in four of the first championship matches.
After Codi Russell outpointed Mountain View's Adam Flatt 7-1 to win at 106 points, Sean Russell pinned Austin Comeck of Habersham Central in 3:37 to claim the 113-pound title, while Ryan Millhof (120) and Griffin Riley (132) earned major decisions in their finals matches.
But North dominated the heavier weight classes to close the gap, as Bulldogs Timi Akinniranye (182), Brett Byerly (195), Jalen Brooks (220) and John Roark (285) all claimed titles.
"We are headed (in the right direction)," North coach Phil Daniel said. "The kids worked their tails off. They've absolutely put the time in. They've put the effort in.
"We were second last year by probably 80 points. So, four points ain't bad. A couple matches here and there and maybe we're there. But two weeks (from now at the Class AAAAAA state meet) is what matters."
Roark pulled off the title that may have mattered most among Bulldog faithful.
Wrestling up a weight class and seeded fourth coming into the meet, the senior trailed Collins Hill's Anderson Palm just 1-0 in the third period when he made his move.
He first scored a two-point takedown to take the lead, and eventually finished off the pin with 1:16 left in the match to win the title, and bring the North fans in the crowd to their feet.
"I really wasn't sure what to expect," Roark said. "I was just going to go out and go. ... It was exciting. It's kind of a blur. This is my most unexpected victory."
Whether it was expected or not, the result in the 145-pound championship came as a result of what may have been the most exciting match of the day.
Peachtree Ridge's Kanar Alasady battled Collins Hill's Michael Roquet to a draw through regulation, and got a takedown 46 seconds into overtime for his first area championship.
"Last time I wrestled him, (Roquet won 15-6 during the area duals)," Alasady recalled. "This time, I knew how to wrestle him. He's a very good wrestler, but I was able to counter everything he tried. I was thinking in my head, 'Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot.' The next thing you know, he goes for a move, I set it up, and I was able to take him down."
Another eventful championship match came at 138 pounds, where Norcross' Rudy Guillen scored an 11-2 major decision over North's Ebow Danso to become the Blue Devils' first area champion in about a decade.
Other individual champions included Sterling Pyles of Mountain View at 152 and Habersham's Jeremy Trotman at 170.