Hall County championships
When: 9 a.m. today
Where: East Hall High
Defending champs: Flowery Branch
Flowery Branch High’s wrestling team certainly dominated the lightweight divisions in the individual matches of the Hall County championships. Whether that translates into a repeat team title for the Falcons will be determined today at East Hall.
"I hope it translates into a team title," Flowery Branch coach Shane Lancaster said. "But (today’s) another day."
Lancaster expects the duals title to come down to a battle between his squad and West Hall.
"We won it last year and we’re looking pretty good again this year," said Flowery Branch junior Brandon Dyer, who won the county title at 135 pounds.
The Falcons swept the individual title in each of the three lowest weight classes (103, 112 and 119) and finished with five individual Hall County champions. Flowery Branch also had a trio of second place finishers which should bolster its chances of winning the team title.
Gainesville and North Hall each had three grapplers emerge as Hall County champs.
Falcons junior Danny Bell won the county title at 119. With county championships at 112 his freshman and sophomore year, he has the chance to become the first four-time Hall County champion in school history next year. He’s going for the second Area 7-AAA title in his career this season.
Freshman Nick Lankford (103) and Zach Cannon (112) won the first two individual titles for Flowery Branch.
Dyer’s win was one of redemption for the 135 title. His win against North Hall’s Nick Quinn was a reversal of last year’s finals, which Quinn won by 1 point.
Ben Yu (152) also emerged as a Hall County champion for the Falcons. Nate Amos (140), Chris Amos (160) and George Kudyba (189) finished second for Flowery Branch.
North Hall’s Colby McClain, a junior, says he was a man on a mission with his first round pin for win at 215. He finished as county runner-up at 189 last year.
Shane Doster had a more enjoyable experience this year winning the county title at 140. Last year, he broke his ankle in the finals against Yu. "I really wanted to go to state last year, but I couldn’t once I broke my ankle," Doster said.
Trojans junior Wesley Adams won in the finals at 125.
Red Elephants grapplers emerged as county champions at 160, 171 and 285.
Gainesville senior Josh Jackson won the 285 Hall County title with a take down in an overtime period against East Hall. Jackson is a two-time Hall County champion.
Red Elephants junior Graham Simmons won at 160. Gainesville’s first-year wrestler was a top 10 finisher at state as a sophomore at North Forsyth. Gainesville senior Trahern Ricks won at 171.
"I’m very pleased with the three that were able to win," Gainesville coach Nick Niesielowski said. "I’m confident I’ll be able to take those guys to state."
Riverside Military’s Dillon Nicholson won the Hall County title with a 5-3 decision at 130. Nicholson and Drew Goodwin (112) were the only two Eagles wrestlers on hand at the Hall County championships with the rest of the team away from campus on its Christmas furlough. With the win, Nicholson, from Cornelia, is the first RMA wrestler to win a Hall County title since its last season in the GHSA, 2002.
"I was really excited about getting to wrestle for the Hall County title," Nicholson said. "It means just as much for me to win even though my team isn’t here."
West Hall’s Rudy Vazquez won the county championship at 145. Chestatee’s Ed Villeda won at 189.
The final five rounds of the duals format starts at 9 a.m. today at East Hall. Without Riverside Military competing for the team championship, there’s a bye for one team in each round.