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Athlete of the week: Bell sweeps Hall County Championships
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Flowery Branch wrestling coach Shane Lancaster discusses the success of Falcon wrestler Danny Bell.

Honorable mentions


Tyler Ward, Lakeview Academy: Averaged 16 points in two games last week.

Daniel Olvera, Lakeview Academy: 15 points against Mifflinburg (Pa.) last Monday.

Maddie Haymore, Lakeview Academy: 18 points against Prince Avenue Christian last Saturday.

Shawn Chapman, Lumpkin County: 17 points against Forsyth Central last Monday.

E.J. Young, Lumpkin County: Averaged 15.5 points in two games last week.

Ashley Brown, Lumpkin County: Averaged 24.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in two games last week.

Austin Tolbert, Lumpkin County: 17 points against Pickens last Saturday.

Shunquez Stephens, West Hall: 23 points and 10 rebounds against North Hall last Tuesday.

Jayla Moon, West Hall: 13 points and seven rebounds against North Hall last Tuesday.

Darius Minor, Jefferson: Scored 24 points and was named MVP of the Oconee County Christmas Tournament last Tuesday.

Blanche Alverson, Buford: 18 points against Gainesville last Saturday.

Jaymee Carnes, Gainesville: 22 points against Buford last Saturday.

Peyton Robertson, Chestatee: 18 points against North Hall last Saturday.

Devaris Finch, Johnson: 23 points against Blessed Trinity last Saturday.

Ishmael Hollis, Flowery Branch: 20 points against Winder-Barrow last Saturday.

Kanler Coker, North Hall: 16 points against Chestatee last Saturday.


Nick Lankford, Flowery Branch: 103-pound champion in the Hall County Championships individual matches last Friday.

Zach Cannon, Flowery Branch: 112-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Wesley Adams, North Hall: 125-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Dillon Nicholson, Riverside Military: 130-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Brandon Dyer, Flowery Branch: 135-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Shane Doster, North Hall: 140-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Rudy Vazquez, West Hall: 145-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Ben Yu, Flowery Branch: 152-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Graham Simmons, Gainesville: 160-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Trahern Ricks, Gainesville: 171-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Ed Villeda, Chestatee: 189-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Colby McClain, North Hall: 215-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Josh Jackson, Gainesville: 285-pound champion in the Hall County Championships.

Flowery Branch High wrestler Danny Bell left last weekend’s Hall County Championships with just as many losses as he had when he entered it.

Bell was named the Lower Weight Most Outstanding Wrestler after sweeping Friday’s individual matches to earn his third Hall County title and his first at 119 pounds. The next day, he picked up where he left off and defeated all of his opponents again to help the Falcons earn their second straight Hall County title.

“That was a good weekend for me and my team,” Bell said. “This year, we were the ones being hunted, so this year we had something to lose.”

Bell’s achievements last weekend add to what has become a well-decorated three-year career. Along with his three Hall County titles (two at 112 pounds, one at 119), Bell is also a two-time state qualifier and the reigning Area 7-AAA champion at 112 pounds. He looks to earn another area title in his new weight class this season.

“(Area) is more intense,” Bell said. “When you get there, you realize that it matters a lot more. It’s harder competition and more competition.”

While adding seven pounds doesn’t seem like a big gain for the average person, it has completely changed how Bell prepares for competition. At this weekend’s area duals, he can expect to encounter familiar faces from the Hall County Championships, but will also face new threats from outside the county, which includes defending Class AAA state champion Gilmer.

“I’m not that big of a 119, so a lot of the guys I’ve run into are stronger than me,” Bell said. “I’ve had to outwork them and out-technique them.”

That approach to the new challenge has worked so far this season. Bell has only lost one match this season, and Falcons coach Shane Lancaster believes that Bell’s work ethic has been the biggest factor to his success.

“He’s definitely one of the more dedicated wrestlers we’ve had,” Lancaster said. “His conditioning is usually better than that of his opponents, so after they’re gassed and finished, he’s still going.”

His endurance is the result of a busy offseason, despite not playing any other sports at Flowery Branch. Along with year-round conditioning, Bell participates in USA Wrestling over the summer, where he specializes in freestyle and Greco-stytle wrestling. The different wrestling styles have given Bell a unique technique against high school opponents.

“Greco helps you learn how to wrestle with your upper body,” Bell said. “When you’re in a match and you can wrestle with your upper body and the other guy can’t, he doesn’t know what to do.”

Although Bell has another year of wrestling ahead of him after this season, he has already gained interest in competing at the collegiate level. After Gardner-Webb wrestler and 2008 Flowery Branch grad Tom Pennington described the college wrestling experience to Bell at a meet earlier this season, Bell decided to make it an option after high school.

“Before, I didn’t want to (wrestle in college),” Bell said. “But once he (Pennington) mentioned how the practices work, he changed my mind.”

But until Bell is done dominating the mats at the high school level, his mind is set on the goals that currently face him, beginning with Area duals this weekend.

“I’m more focused on what’s in front of me right now,” he said.

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