Hall County Wrestling Championships
When: 5 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. Saturday
Where: Riverside Military Academy
The Hall County wrestling championships always boast competitive battles.
This year, Gainesville coach Nick Niesielowski feels like it will be particularly strong with all seven wrestling programs on hand at Riverside Military Academy.
“East Hall has a legit shot, Flowery Branch is strong, North Hall is always competitive, and Chestatee, of course, is very good,” said Niesielowski, who also feels good about his own program. “I’d have to say that Chestatee is probably the team to beat.”
Wrestling in the two-day team meet opens at 5 p.m. Friday at Riverside’s John Beaver Fieldhouse in Gainesville.
Even though the Hall County duals come at an unusual time in the schedule with the traditional portion of the season already underway, it doesn’t take anything away from the intensity it brings to the mats. Given the fact that Hall County programs wrestle anywhere from Class AA up to Class AAAAA, it’s also one of the few times many local programs will see one another before the season ends next month. The county championship is also round-robin format, meaning every team gets a crack at one another. The one exception was last season when it was trimmed to one day, due to weather cancellation opening night, and only three rounds were held.
“I think it’s fantastic the way we have the Hall County championships,” said North Hall coach Jay Hargis. “This is the best way to do it. Every team, every wrestler is out there trying to earn points for the team.”
Already, Chestatee placed fifth at the Class AAAA state duals this month, while Flowery Branch was the Area 8-AAAAA runner-up and also went to wrestle at state in Macon. North Hall placed fifth in 4-AAA, but only finished six points behind eventual Area champion and state runner-up Banks County, and in the same Area as state champ Buford.
Niesielowski feels like his Red Elephants are vastly improved this season, and they have a fourth-place finish out of Area 8-AAAAA to back it up.
“I feel like this is going to be a battle and the most intense Hall County championship meet ever,” Niesielowski said. “Whoever comes away with the win will deserve it.”
Hargis knows well how competitive this annual event can be. In the past six seasons, North Hall has lost out three times when it finished in a three-way tie before the winner was determined. In 2012, the Trojans, Chestatee and Flowery Branch all finished regulation deadlocked. Previously, North Hall’s coach remembers finishing tied with West Hall and Flowery Branch. When Hall County’s duals finish in a tie, coaches use a lengthy list of criteria to determine an overall winner, including any deductions for misbehavior and also number of wins.
The matchups between programs in Hall County fluctuates from year to year. For example, North Hall faced Chestatee five times last season, but this weekend will be their first meeting this season. Likewise, Gainesville has faced many of Hall County’s programs, but will get on the mat for the first time this year against both Chestatee and Flowery Branch.
Hargis emphasizes the bigger picture of making Hall County wrestling stronger. He feels this meet is a great way to make that happen with everyone on the same stage.
“It’s great to have everyone in Hall County in there together,” Hargis said. “Hall County wrestling continues to get better every season.”
Chestatee won the Hall County Championship in 2013 at North Hall. Flowery Branch has won Hall County four times since 2008.