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Jefferson wins record eighth straight state championship
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DULUTH — Wrestling is a sport of vast emotion. Every end of the spectrum was on display in the traditional state finals Saturday at The Arena at Gwinnett in Duluth.

Scottie Forrester tried to fight back tears. And Cason Thurmond had to just sit back, take a deep breath and reflect.

But Carson Fields’ reaction probably took the cake. After winning the Class AAAAA state title at 135-pounds, this Parkview High senior, who lives in South Hall, gave a television reporter a bear hug.

Clearly, success doesn’t have the same effect on every one.

"It’s just an awesome feeling being a state champion," Buford’s Forrester said with a quivering lip after winning the Class AA state title at 145.

Forrester was overcome with emotion thinking about his friend Austin Sharp from Morgan County, who is currently recovering at Scottish-Rite Hospital in Atlanta after a car accident. Forrester and Sharp were the favorites to battle for the state title before the untimely accident, from which he is expected to recover.

"This win is for him," Forrester said.

Forrester is now a three-time state placer, with the chance to be a back-to-back state champ next season.

Fields’ emotional release was due to the fact that it is the first time wrestling for the state title for this previous national champion. The Flowery Branch native has been limited by a broken rib, shoulder surgery and not making weight at state prior to this year.

His only previous placing at state was sixth as a freshman.

"It’s just so exciting to see all my hard work pay off," Fields said. "I’m pumped."

As far as the team competition goes, the night belonged to Jefferson in Class A.

Jefferson set a new state record with its eighth straight traditional state crown. It broke the mark previously shared with Class AAAAA’s McEachern. Cason Thurmond (103), Cam Thurmond (119), Jed Gurley (125), Jay Fowler (152), Zac Crosby (160) and Lucas Redd (171) all won state titles for the Dragons. Daniel Barber (112), Cutler Finch (130), Wayne Elliot (135), Patrick, Patrick Allen (215) and Cole Hightower (285) all placed second at state for Jefferson.

Kevin Anderson (130) and Zach Allen (189) placed third for the Dragons.

With the latest state title, it marks 15 state championships for Dragons coach Doug Thurmond (eight traditional, seven duals) in his career.

"It never gets old winning state," Thurmond said. "If it does get old, then I’m in the wrong business."

Commerce also had quite a successful weekend at the traditionals. Doug Maloch (112) came away with the Class A state title. Addison Davis (103) placed third for the Tigers, and Casey Drinkard (125) finished fourth.

It didn’t all go as hoped for Hall County wrestlers. West Hall senior Colby Yates finished as state runner-up in Class AAA at 130 after losing to three time-state champion Damon Cadle from Cass. However, it doesn’t take anything away from Yates’ career with the Spartans as a four-time state placer and three-time Area 7-AAA champion.

Yates also leaves West Hall as the all-time winningest wrestler in Hall County history with more than 200 wins.

"Colby is the most successful athlete to ever come out of West Hall," Spartans coach Rod Galvan said. "We are very proud of all he accomplished here at West Hall.

"This is just the first chapter of his wrestling career."

Lumpkin County’s Wesley Forrester defeated Henry County’s Kevon Sadler for third place in Class AAA at 103. He advanced to the semifinals with a first round bye and two wins by fall in ensuing rounds. In 189, the Indians’ Brandon Roberts took third place with a win by fall over South Effingham’s Adam Morse.

Flowery Branch’s Tom Pennington placed fourth in Class AAA at 215. He lost by a 3-0 decision in the third-place match to Hephzibah’s Bobby Liggins. Also placing from Flowery Branch was Ben Yu in seventh at 140.

Also placing out of Hall County was West Hall’s Chan Morris in sixth at 152 and Johnson’s Joey Wirsing in seventh at 171.

Jackson County’s Ben Lesniak won the AAAA state title at 125. Jose Carrillo-Garcia (285) placed third for the Panthers. Justin Best (135), Kevin Spicer (145) and Ryan Howe (189) all placed in fifth for the Panthers.

White County’s Joseph Albrecht took seventh at 130.

Banks County placed three wrestlers in the finals. An Pham (130) placed third in Class AA for the Leopards, and Demetric Dempson (152) and Jared Gregory (160) each placed fifth for the Leopards.

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