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Area wrestlers punch state tournament tickets
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Fresh off the first area title in program history, Buford coach Rob Caryle had high hopes for the Wolves at state sectionals.

That confidence turned out to be well-founded.

The Wolves qualified seven wrestlers for state while playing host to the Class AAAA East Sectional on Saturday in Buford, including three first-place finishers.

“I’m pretty excited,” Carlyle said. “I (believed) we could get seven through, so I’m pretty pleased with that.”

Darius Branch (126), Jack Barber (138) and Trent Ferguson (138) followed their Area 8-AAAA championships by winning their respective weight classes at the sectional.

Jack Ness (182, 2nd), Grant Simonds (195, 3rd), Chase Hartman (106, 5th) and Joe Salas (152, 5th) also earned spots at the state tournament, which begins Thursday at the Macon Centreplex in Macon. Freshman Kyle McCullough (9th) qualified as an alternate.

Meanwhile, Michael Carew won the 145-pound bracket for North Hall, joing a trio of his teammates in the top three at sectionals. Nick Whitmire (160) and Isaiah Hale (170) placed second, followed by Randy Galvan (220) in third.
Darrien Ingram (195, 5th), Michael Rietrib (113, 6th) and Holden Barnes (126, 6th) rounded out the list of seven Trojans to qualify for state.

Chestatee delivered a combination of quality and quantity at sectionals with eight wrestlers moving on to state, including a pair of second-place finishers in Marvin Cunningham (138) and Matthew McLellan (145). Austin Donaldson (132) placed third.

Jaime Arroyo (182) took fifth place, while Gavin Cunningham (106), Jairo Cuevas (126), Garrett Brader (152) and Isaac Alarcon (170) all placed seventh.

Andrew Poston’s second-place finish at 220 pounds was a bright spot for White County. Austin Durham (106, 4th), Cody Bearden (145, 4th), Sean Freeman (195, 6th), Cory Garrison (120, 7th) and Ty Anderson (285, 7th) also advanced to state.

Johnson did not have a wrestler place higher than fourth at sectionals, but six Knights made the cut for state.

David Castaneda (138), Jerry Ochoa (170) and Pedro Estrada (285) all placed fourth, while Gabriel Laguna (113) and Fredis Velasquez (160) were close behind in fifth.

Jake Holman (220) placed eighth, while Saul Gomez (145, 9th) qualified as an alternate.


Flowery Branch qualified three wrestlers for the Class AAAAA state championships during the East Sectional on Saturday at Lanier High in Sugar Hill. Ronny Link (120 pounds, 4th place), Nolan Alspach (132, 3rd) and Brady Dyer (145, 3rd) are all moving on to state after bouncing back from narrow losses in the sectional semifinals.

“They were one or two points away from being in the finals,” Flowery Branch coach Shane Millwood said. “They wrestled back and made the best of their situations.”

Stephen Kercher (138, 9th) will be an alternate.

Gainesville will send five wrestlers to the state tournament, led by a third-place finish from Kash Jones (220). He’ll be joined by Triston Cantrell (195, 4th), Tyrek Fleming (132, 5th), Anthony Constantini (170, 7th) and Jerson Garica (145, 7th).

“I’m just really exicted about getting down there (at state) this next week,” Gainesville coach Nick Niesielowski said. “I feel like the guys that are going will represent Gainesville High School really well.”
Ken Flenoy (126, 9th) and Terrell Knight (160, 9th) qualified as alternates.

Class AAA

West Hall senior Elliott Raiford, a state runner-up in 2014, took another step in his pursuit of a state championship with an East sectional championship at 160 pounds Saturday at Morgan County High.

Raiford will be joined by teammates Jesse Bridgewater (132, 7th place), Adan Medina (170, 8th) and Christian Erwin (182, 8th) at state. The Spartans’ Julio Gallegos (126, 9th) and Tiaan Vlok (138, 9th) are alternates.

Jefferson qualified 13 wrestlers for state, including seven sectional champions.

Dawson Bates (106), Mitchell McGee (113), Ben Kelly (120), Tanner Thurmond (132), Chase Piperato (145), Will Ballard (152) and Caleb Little (182) earned sectional titles for the Dragons.

Price Joiner (126, 2nd place), Jeremy McColskey (138, 3rd), Zach Boobas (160, 4th), Deshon Lester (195, 5th), Michael Paolozzi (220, 4th) and Nick Holman (285, 4th) are also state-bound.

East Hall will send James Stoudenmire (106, 4th), Angel Vargas (113, 8th), Will Davidson (126, 4th) and Kevin Thompson (195, 8th) to state. The Vikings’ Felton Wood (145, 9th) will be an alternate for state.

Lumpkin County’s Zach Matthews led his team’s state qualifiers as a 195-pound sectional champion. The Indians’ Greg Hilliard (145, 2nd), Victor Ramos (285, 2nd), Eddie Daniel (182, 3rd), Justin Cantrell (220, 3rd), Logan Benson (132, 4th), Logan Brown (113, 5th), Tristan Duckworth (126, 5th), Conner Heriot (152, 5th) and Cole White (170, 5th) earned state berths, as well. Lumpkin’s Noah Denard (160, 9th) is an alternate.

Banks County’s Dylan Gouine (170, 2nd), Chris McCrackin (126, 3rd), Matt Dilbeck (195, 3rd), Dylan Suttles (132, 5th), Devin Mullinax (106, 6th), Corey Turner (120, 6th), Clayton Dykhouse (145, 6th) and Chris Guthrie (160, 6th) also punched their state tournament tickets.

Dawson County’s Harrison Adams won the 138-pound sectional to earn a state tournament trip. The Tigers’ Gavin Brown (195, 2nd), Jeremy Whalen (145, 4th), Brett Whalen (182, 5th), Justin Evans (113, 7th) and Ty Williams (285, 8th) are also state qualifiers.

Jackson County’s Luke Gonzalez (113, 2nd), Brian Carranza (120, 2nd), Connor Crump (132, 2nd), Zak Evans (152, 2nd), Chuckie Allen (182, 2nd), Jacob Love (126, 6th) and Hunter Allen (170, 6th) advanced to state, as well.


Habersham Central’s Andrew Burpee (113 pounds, 3rd place) and Slade Jarrard (120, 5th) qualified for the Class AAAAAA state championships during the East Sectional on Saturday at Mill Creek High in Hoschton.

Class AA

Nick Fernandez (160, 2nd) will be Riverside Military Academy’s lone representative at the Class AA state tournament, following a runner-up finish in the East Sectional on Saturday at GAC in Norcross.

Class A

Commerce is sending 14 wrestlers to state, including nine sectional champions.

Casey Burchett (106), Jacob Brewer (113), Dalton Flint (120), Owen Brown (138), Chase Forrester (152), Knox Allen (160), Cole Chancey (170), Cole Sweeney (195) and Derek Benoit (285) brought home sectional titles for the Tigers.

Austin Brock (126, 2nd), Mitchell Patton (132, 2nd), Michael Patton (145, 2nd), Tyreke Wiggins (220, 2nd) and Dontavious Mosley (182, 3rd) also are headed to state.

Towns County’s Kaine Hoffman (106, 2nd), Thomas Mitchell (113, 3rd) and Daulton Rogers (170, 3rd) earned state spots, as well.

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