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Chestatee, North Hall unbeaten in first day of Hall County wrestling championships
War Eagles hold off Flowery Branch in 2013 finals rematch
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Gainesville's Luke Walsh puts a hold on East Hall's Dustin Green during Friday's Hall County wrestling championships at Riverside Military Academy. - photo by Nat Gurley | The Times

Hall County championships

Day 1 standings

Chestatee, 3-0

North Hall, 3-0

Flowery Branch, 2-1

East Hall, 2-1

Gainesville, 1-2

West Hall, 1-2

Johnson, 0-3

Riverside Military, 0-3


Day 2 Wrestling

When: 9 a.m. Saturday

Where: Riverside Military

Tickets: $5

Even after a couple of close calls, Chestatee’s wrestling team made sure it was in good standing after Day 1 of the Hall County championships.

The War Eagles were one of only two teams to finish 3-0 after the opening day of the annual dual meet Friday at Riverside Military Academy, alongside North Hall.

But unlike the Trojans, who seemingly had little trouble with their first-day opponents, Chestatee was dealt some scares along the way to an early lead of the eight-team, round-robin competition.

After holding off Gainesville 39-26, the War Eagles barely squeaked by Flowery Branch 45-36, needing a pin by Joey Meruelo at 220 pounds to shrug off a three-point deficit.

“What looks like three victories today was actually scraping by, which could’ve been a better thing,” Chestatee coach Carey Whitlow said. “We were the team to beat before we had so many problems.”

A rematch of last year’s Hall County championships final and a showdown between the county’s only two state duals qualifiers, the War Eagles trailed 36-33 after pins by Grant Simonds at 182 pounds and Davante King at 195 put Flowery Branch ahead 36-33.

Meruelo’s pin at 220 gave Chestatee a 39-36 lead. The Falcons were forced to forfeit at 285, securing the War Eagles’ victory.

“They didn’t have a heavyweight, so I think from 182 they bumped their guys up to fill that slot,” Whitlow said. “We’re thinking that if they could beat our 220, they would’ve been ahead and forfeited their heavyweight. It just ended up that way.”

Chestatee, which finished fifth in Class AAAA at state duals on Jan. 11, defeated Johnson 44-25 to open the day.

The War Eagles’ unscathed record puts them in position to face North Hall today for a potential championship-clinching match. The two teams will meet in their third match of the day and sixth overall.

With five wrestlers from Chestatee’s state duals lineup missing for injuries and missing weight, Whitlow anticipates a dogfight.

“They’re going to be tough,” he said. “They’re missing guys too. We don’t lineup well with them, and it’ll be a battle.”

The Trojans racked up 168 points and were the high-scoring team of the first day, defeating Riverside 75-0 before cruising past West Hall 59-12. They closed out the evening with a 34-22 win over Gainesville.

“Right now, we’re where we wanted to be,” North Hall coach Jay Hargis said. “I’m really pleased with some guys that have stepped up, and really wrestling some of their best matches right now.”

Unlike Chestatee and Flowery Branch, the Trojans didn’t qualify for state, but they didn’t come to county duals untested. The two qualifying teams from their area, 4-AAA, ended up facing each other in the championship match in Macon.

Meanwhile, North Hall used the week of state duals to get in some extra training. It’s paying off, and the Trojans are in position to improve on last year’s third-place finish in the county.

“I don’t know if we’re a sleeper, because all of the coaches kept tabs on each other,” Hargis said. “But there was that week where folks hadn’t heard much from us, because the other teams were in the state duals.”

Flowery Branch, which competed in the Class AAAAA state duals the past two seasons, went 2-1 on Day 1 with wins over West Hall and Johnson.

The Falcons narrowly avoided an upset against the Spartans, needing a pin by Simonds at 195 to notch a 32-31 win. They then defeated Johnson 48-16.

East Hall also went 2-1, defeating Riverside 51-27 and Johnson 64-15. The Vikings lost to Gainesville 51-21.

The Red Elephants were dealt a tough card in Friday’s scheduling, going 1-2 with losses to North Hall and Chestatee. West Hall also went 1-2, defeating Riverside.

Johnson and Riverside each went 0-3.

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