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Hall County Championships a fight to the finish
Three teams lead duals; traditionals marked by parity
West Hall High’s Laykin Herford is declared the victor over Gainesville High’s Joseph Lozano at the Flowery Branch gymnasium Saturday afternoon during day one of the Hall County Duals. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Hall County Championships
Today’s schedule

Round 3: Chestatee vs. Flowery Branch; Johnson vs. North Hall; East Hall vs. West Hall

Round 4: Chestatee vs. West Hall; Gainesville vs. Flowery Branch; East Hall vs. North Hall

Round 5: Chestatee vs. Johnson; Gainesville vs. East Hall; North Hall vs. West Hall

Round 6: Chestatee vs. Gainesville; Johnson vs. East Hall; North Hall vs. Flowery Branch

Round 7: Flowery Branch vs. West Hall; Chesatee vs. East Hall; Gainesville vs. Johnson

Wrestling starts at 9 a.m. at Flowery Branch High

FLOWERY BRANCH — Flowery Branch took its first step toward a third straight Hall County team championship, opening the duals competition with back-to-back wins Friday in its home gym.

But the Falcons can’t relax, because West Hall and North Hall are keeping pace with identical 2-0 records.

"Right now, it’s anybody’s tournament," Flowery Branch coach Shane Lancaster said at the close of Day 1. "West Hall’s looking incredibly tough, and North Hall is as well. And we know Chestatee’s going to give us all we want."

The duals competition, a round-robin format, will continue at 9 a.m. today with five more rounds at Flowery Branch High. Chestatee will open the day with a pair of tough matches, taking on Flowery Branch to start the day and following with West Hall in Round 4.

Other key matches include North Hall vs. West Hall in Round 5, North Hall vs. Flowery Branch in Round 6, and West Hall vs. Flowery Branch in the seventh and final round of thetournament.

The Falcons and Trojans showed their depth early Friday, as each team placed seven wrestlers in the finals of the traditionals competition, which was marked by a well-matched field of competitors.

Six wrestlers from Chestatee also advanced to the traditional finals, while the Falcons, Trojans and West Hall each had three individual champions.

Chestatee and Gainesville each had two champs, and Juan Cruz was East Hall’s sole champion, winning the 140-pound division by pin in the finals.

Flowery Branch senior Danny Bell headlined the traditionals, winning his fourth Hall County title.

"It feels good to know that all that hard work has paid off," said Bell, Flowery Branch’s first four-time county champ.

After winning at 112 pounds as a freshman and sophomore, Bell won his last two titles at 119, the most recent coming via decision.

Also claiming titles for the Falcons were Nick Lankford (112), who won by pin for his second straight county championship, and senior Chris Amos, who was dominant in his title win by decision at 171 pounds.

In one of the day’s most exciting matches, West Hall’s Logan Herford rallied in the third round of the 135-pound finals, closing the match with five unanswered points to take a 7-6 victory over defending champ Brandon Dyer of Flowery Branch.

Tanner Yates (125) and Collins Wright (152) also won individual titles for West Hall. Yates’ win also came over a defending champ, North Hall’s Wes Adams.

The Trojans’ Shane Doster (160) and Colby McClain (215) defended their titles, while John Anderson (103) won his first county championship for North Hall. Both Anderson and McClain won by pin, while Doster earned a hard-fought 3-2 win over Daniel Merand of Chestatee. McClain’s match was the only final to feature two defending county champs, as Ed Villeda — a champion at 189 last year — stepped up in weight classes this season.

Both Gainesville wrestlers that advanced to the finals made the most of their opportunity as Dane Hicks took home the title at 130 and Graham Simmons won at 189 after taking the 160-pound championship a year ago.

Aaron Anderson won the heavyweight division and Taylor Wright won at 152 to account for Chestatee’s two titles.

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