Staff Photo: John Bohn Buford wrestler Brayden Hartley celebrates his 126 pound class AAA state championship wrestling title after defeating Mason Patton of Banks County during the state wrestling championships held in Macon on Saturday.
MACON -- Parkview coach Josh Porter's motto all year has been to expand the wall.
It's a reference to the wall of fame in the school's cafeteria and wrestling room, which honors its state champions and placers.
The Panthers did that on Saturday. Khalil Shakur won Class AAAAAA 160-pound state title and was one of three Panthers to place at the state meet.
"It's the best feeling in the world. All the pressure is gone," Shakur said.
Shakur is the Panthers' first state champion since 2008 when Carson Fields won it all. Shakur almost didn't win state on Saturday, though.
The senior was hit with a stalling call with nine seconds left in the match and again as time expired. Shakur jumped up with his arms extended as he celebrated, but found out the match was going into overtime.
"I thought I had won," he said. "All of the sudden I was wondering what I did wrong. He said I was going to overtime. I told myself that couldn't be the way I lost. I was going to win the match again."
Shakur got a reversal in the second overtime to beat Chattahoochee's Josh McMahan 6-5.
"It means so much," an emotional Porter said. "I love this kid to death. He has worked so hard and he put everything into this season."
The state title victory was redemption for Shakur, who lost to McMahan at last week's state sectional.
"All week I focused myself," said Shakur, who said he watched last week's match 20 or 30 times. "I was going to win that match."
Parkview's Harrison Schmid (195) was second and Andrew Webb (126) was sixth.
Carlyle sets bar high in first year
Buford's Rob Carlyle sat in the stands receiving congratulations from supporters when principal Banks Bitterman walked by to shake his hand.
"Next year, seven in the finals," Bitterman said with a wink.
In his first year as the Wolves' wrestling coach, Carlyle took the program to new heights. Buford finished fourth as a team in Class AAA, the highest finish in school history. The Wolves had four state placers, including three state champions.
"We thought we could have a couple of state champs," Carlyle said. "I didn't think we could get three. This is what we've waited for all year."
Chip Ness won his third-straight state title at 182 pounds, pushing his career record to 137-1.
"It's the same routine as usual," Ness said of the repeat. "I still have to win and can't take anyone lightly."
Ness' only career loss came this season to the nation's No. 1-ranked Brooks Climmons from Pope. Ness is ranked No. 8 in the nation.
Jack Barber won the 113-pound state title and Brayden Hartley won at 120 in overtime despite a bloody nose. Darius Bunch placed third at 106.
All four of Buford's state placers return next season.
"Now we have to do it again," Carlyle said with a smile.
Eagles streak still alive
Collins Hill's run as the traditional state champions ended on Saturday, but the Eagles still have another streak alive.
Collins Hill, which won five straight state titles, finished second overall. The Eagles have placed in the top three at the state meet every year since 2000, a feat no other team at the highest classification has ever done in any sport.
"We finished third at the state duals and second today," Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said. "Obviously, we came here to win. To finish second is still good. I'm still happy of how we performed."
Collins Hill had six state placers led by defending state champions Sean Russell (113) and Ryan Millhof (120).
Millhof had 5-2 victory over Etowah's Leonard Payton to claim his second straight state title and push his career record to 168-4.
"I didn't wrestle my match. I didn't feel mentally right," Millhof said. "The biggest thing is to take that from this tournament and learn from it."
Russell used a 3-2 win over Cherokee's Blake Walker to claim his third-straight state title. The victory puts him in position to join the elite four-time state champion club next year.
"It feels awesome. I've been working for this my whole life," Russell said. "I feel like every year there's pressure (to win). I just have to keep working hard."
Delk battles back to win state
Rhett Delk was the only Wesleyan wrestler to qualify for the state tournament. The senior still needed a drill partner, so he asked teammate John McCleskey to work with him the last two weeks.
Delk made sure McCleskey's extra time was worth it on Saturday. The senior won the 170-pound Class AA state title on Saturday.
"It feels great. It's definitely an adrenaline rush," Delk said.
"It means a lot. All the hard work from years past paid off."
Delk missed the first half of the season with a back injury from football. He came back and didn't lose a match all year, going 20-0.
"He's such a great kid in every way you can imagine -- academics, athletics," Wesleyan coach Dennis Stromie said. "He's such a great Christian young man."
Delk placed third at state the last two seasons and sixth as a freshman. A three-sport athlete in football, wrestling and soccer, Delk will play football at Washington and Lee next year, a Division III school in Lexington, Va.
"It's great to have these victories," Stromie said. "Others in the program will see it and say, 'Hey, I want to do that.'"
As for McCleskey, what is Delk going to do to pay him back for helping him win a state title?
"I'm going to take him to Stoney River," he said with a big smile.
GAC top 10 again
Greater Atlanta Christian placed fifth in the Class AA tournament on Saturday, making it the third straight season the Spartans finished in the top 10. GAC was 10th in 2011 and state runner-up last year. Only 10 points separated third through seventh place at this year's tournament.
The Spartans had five state placers to tie the school record for the most in one season.
Carter Clineball (132) was second, Kyle Politz (120) and Trent Scates (138) finished third and Hunter Hemmings (106) and Brandon Bradley (113) were fourth.