MT. AIRY — Every year since being moved to Area 7-AAAAAA of the state’s highest classification in the 2004-05 high school wrestling season, Collins Hill has won the area dual-meet championship.
It was no exception at this year’s meet Saturday at Habersham Central High School.
But the Eagles definitely had to earn the title, thanks to a scrappy opponent in Meadowcreek.
In the end, however, Collins Hill was able to overcome the Mustangs, along with a few adjustments to its line-up, to pull away for a 49-25 win in the finals to take the title.
While the Eagles are going back to state dual championships for the 13th straight season, the Mustangs will be making their first after posting wins of 37-36 over Mountain View and 35-31 over Mill Creek earlier in the day.
“We knew that coming in,” said Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen after the Eagles (7-2 in dual meets this season) defeated host Habersham Central (65-6), Peachtree Ridge (47-24) and Meadowcreek to take the10th straight Area 7-AAAAAA duals title. “For one thing, Shoe (Meadowcreek coach Richard Schumacher) does a great job. Give him a lot of credit for what he’s done with the program. He’s got some good little guys, he’s got a guy in the middle and he’s got those big guys who are real good. So, we knew we had to be ready.”
Compounding the challenge Meadowcreek brought was an illness that kept 126-pound star Ryan Milhof out of the lineup and an injury suffered by 170-pounder Joseph Hutchison that ended his day early.
But a pin by Drew Martin on Hector Mendoza at 195 pounds in the finals’ leadoff match and a forfeit win by Nate Wellington at 285 pounds gave Collins Hill a little early breathing room.
Still, Meadowcreek hung around with key pins by Edy Padilla over Tariq Malik at 106 pounds and Nihgee Eddington over Tojo Hernandez at 138, plus a 20-5 technical fall win by Raymond Washington over Michael Illardi at 126 keeping the Mustangs within striking distance at 27-20.
But after Adeniyi Henderson-Harden’s pin of Joey Kasper at 152 brought Meadowcreek to within 34-26, Collins Hill turned to two individuals forced to wrestle up a weight class to come through.
And both did, with Zach Parker outpointing William Bailey 5-0 in the 160 match and Andres Parra pinning Eszavion Franklin at 170 to put the Eagles over the top.
“It’s never what you want, to have somebody like (Milhof) not in the lineup,” Stephen said. “But it was good mat time for the kids we had in there. And we had the injury (to Hutchison), so it turned out to be the best move to bump up and put other kids in the lineup. We had a few kids who had to help us out.”
Meadowcreek had to wait out the consolation to celebrate its runner-up finish and first trip to the Class AAAAAA state duals next weekend at the Macon Centreplex.
The wait became even longer after Mountain View’s Octavian Jarda outlasted Peachtree Ridge’s J.J. Stewart at 195 in the closing match of that dual to knot the meet at 31-apiece.
A check of the scorebook revealed that the Bears had won eight of the meet’s 14 matches, while the Lions won just six, giving Mountain View the victory and avoiding a true second-place match for Meadowcreek.
It was the culmination of an exciting day for the Mustangs, who needed a 17-4 major decision by Adeniyi Henderson-Harden over William Adams and a thrilling 13-11 decision by William Bailey over Jacob Sorrells that was decided in the final seconds to come from behind to beat Mountain View in the semifinals.
“To come from where we came from five years ago is amazing,” Schumacher said. “These kids have worked so hard. They deserve it. We were down a couple of wrestlers (Saturday), but we came through.”
The criteria win in the consolation finals gave third place to Mountain View, which also beat Norcross 30-28 and North Gwinnett 41-19 on the day, while Peachtree Ridge, which scored wins of 40-32 over Mill Creek and 54-15 over Norcross wound up fourth.