Championship contention is nothing new for the North Hall wrestling team and head coach David Nichols.
The Trojans have finished top two in 3A wrestling duals each of the past two seasons, winning a championship in early 2018. The recent success has been a motivating factor for North Hall as it sets out to earn another title in this year’s event.
“Our guys are really excited right now,” Nichols said. “Just really excited about the opportunity to represent our community in this event. It’s one of our favorite events of the year, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
The Trojans are joined by Gainesville and Flowery Branch in qualifying for the duals state meets for their respective classifications, with all schools hitting the mats for the opening rounds on Thursday in Macon.
North Hall is the most experienced group of the bunch, and the only Hall County school to make it to state duals following each of the last two regular seasons. Nichols said the dedication of his athletes and their families has been the biggest factor in bringing consistent success to the school’s wrestling program.
“I think one thing that has set some of our teams apart is that we have a tremendous amount of commitment to our process,” he said. “Over the years, not only have our athletes been committed, but our parents are committed to doing the things that are necessary to build a championship level program.”
Gainesville has had less recent experience at state meets, but Red Elephants coach Roberto Rivera is excited to take his team to Macon in his first year at the school.
It’s a goal that Rivera has been chasing since Day 1 with the Red Elephants.
“It was the No. 1 goal that I had for the kids was to make sure to get to the state duals,” he said. “They have to see what it’s all about.”
Rivera added that while his team has a long way to go still, he’s been happy with the progress it’s made and sees the group as ahead of schedule compared to preseason expectations.
Competing will be the top focus for the Red Elephants, but experiencing the state meet and everything that comes with it is nearly as important to Rivera — who has been to the state tournament on a number of occasions in the past during stints with Pebblebrook and Kennesaw Mountain. No matter how Gainesville does at the event, Rivera said he plans to keep the team there through the weekend to show the athletes exactly what they have to look forward to, if they continue to work hard.
“I want them to see the excitement,” he said. “I want them to see how everything is going to pan out from Thursday all the way until Saturday, so that in the future, they know that that’s the thing we’re working for.”
Regardless of experience levels, all participating schools will be approaching the state meet with a similar mindset: win one match at a time.
That starts with this Thursday.
“We’ve just got to beat somebody,” Rivera said. “It just takes one match win to get to the next round.”