Flowery Branch appears poised to claim its fourth consecutive Hall County wrestling championship. West Hall may have something to say about that, however.
Both the Falcons and Spartans were the only two teams out of eight competing that finished 3-0 on Friday in the first day of the championships on Friday at Gainesville High. They’ll face off first thing this morning at 9:30 a.m. before each heading into three other matches.
It’s likely the winner of that match will win the title, though Chestatee and North Hall have just one loss. The Spartans won the last two Hall County titles before the Falcons began their current run.
“We feel great, confident,” said senior George Kudyba, one of seven Falcons with an undefeated record Friday. “We’ve got the motivation and momentum we need, we’ve just got to keep steam rolling and keep it up (today).”
The Falcons began the tournament with a dominating 84-0 win over Johnson, and followed that with a 72-12 victory over East Hall. In their final match, they defeated North Hall 45-21.
Going undefeated for the Falcons were Kudyba in the 189 weight class, along with Ben Horton (112), Zach Winter (119), Caleb Murphy (130), Zach Cannon (135), Adam Wellborn (140), Ryan Raber (160) and Johnathan Martinez (285).
“Overall, I’m really proud of my guys,” Falcons coach Shane Lancaster said. “From start to finish we had a solid performance from the seniors, which we expected, and then we had some freshmen step up tonight who have been a little shaky this season. They filled in some major gaps and hopefully we can keep it going tomorrow.”
The Spartans edged Chestatee 37-27 in a critical opening match, along with East Hall, to challenge the Falcons’ defending of the title. West Hall coasted past host Gainesville 62-10, then beat Riverside Military Academy 72-3.
Tanner Yates (140), Logan Herford (145), Jimmy Lopez (119), Israel Guzman (125), Anthony Villicana (130), Cristian Sepulveda (152), Richardo Mancilla (160), Julio Chavez (285) and Jimmy Lopez (285) all went undefeated Friday.
“We did well,” Spartans coach Eric Radich said. “We had good technique and wrestled well. We’re where we expected to be and we’ve got Flowery Branch (this) morning. Obviously we’ve got more past that, but we’ve got to go one match at a time.
“I feel good about us going against Flowery Branch, but it’s not like we can beat them on paper without a doubt. But we’ve got some guys wanting to get after them, and they want to get after us, so it should be a good match.”
After the Falcons and Spartans square off, Flowery Branch wrestles Riverside, Gainesville and Chestatee, while West Hall goes against North Hall, East Hall and Johnson. If the winner of Flowery Branch-West Hall loses a match later in the day, Chestatee and North Hall come back into the title picture.
The team with the best record takes the title, but in the event of a tie, the tie-breaker is total team points.
After Chestatee’s tough loss to the Spartans, the War Eagles rebounded to beat Johnson 66-14 and East Hall 71-6.
Aaron Anderson (285), Dylan Brock (189) Daniel Moreno (171), Cody Etris (135), John Gilbert (112), and Jose Reyes (103) were undefeated for Chestatee.
War Eagles coach Carey Whitlow said their match against West Hall could have gone either way.
“It came down to one of their guys getting a pin over a guy we expected to get the pin,” he said. “If that happens, it’s 33 points for us and 31 for them. And that’s the way it’s been with us, West Hall and North Hall, there’s been one match that’s been the difference all season. So who’s on and who’s off will make the difference and West Hall was on tonight. They deserved to win.”
Led by undefeated wrestlers Shane Doster (171), Cam Howell (215), Taylor Marrett (103), Tyler Kratzer (125) and Cody Wilsdon (160), the Trojans beat Gainesville 53-16 and Riverside 67-6 before falling to Flowery Branch.
Riverside and Gainesville each finished 1-2 and both beat Johnson, which, along with East Hall went 0-3.