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Lumpkin County, Chestatee dominant at Area 8-AAAA traditional meet
Indians, War Eagles each qualify 11 wrestlers for sectionals
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Chestatee wrestler Marvin Cunningham, right, and Johnson’s Ishmael Castro go out of bounds Saturday at the Area 8-AAAA tournament at Chestatee High School. Cunningham won the 138-pound match. - photo by Nat Gurley | The Times

Area 8-AAAA Traditionals

Overall results

1. Lumpkin County, 236.5
2. Chestatee, 204
3. Johnson, 155
4. Lanier, 126
5. Madison County, 108
6. Eastside, 104
7. Stephens County, 100
8. Monroe Area, 72
9. Walnut Grove, 60

The back-and-forth struggle for supremacy between wrestling rivals Chestatee and Lumpkin County carried into Area 8-AAAA traditionals. Once again, the two teams were separated by a narrow margin.

Each team qualified 11 wrestlers for sectionals and won four individual titles, and the Indians outscored the War Eagles 236.5-204 to take home the team title at Saturday’s area meet at Chestatee High School.

The two teams combined to reach the championship round in 12 of 14 weight classes — three times facing each other — and had seven more wrestlers competing for third and fourth-place finishes.

“It’s always been a great rivalry,” Lumpkin County coach Brian Matthews said. “Whenever we wrestle each other we bring our best game, and we respect the heck out of those guys.”

All wrestlers that finished fourth or higher advance to Class AAAA East Sectionals next weekend at Lanier High in Sugar Hill, with the top eight grapplers advancing to state the following week at Gwinnett Arena.

For Matthews, 11 qualifiers and four winners was right on par with what he expected entering Saturday’s action.

“That’s what we were hoping for,” he said. “We were shooting for 11 or 12.”

Lumpkin County’s area champions were Greg Hilliard at 132 pounds, Daniel Locklear at 132, Eddie Daniel at 160 and Victor Ramos at 170.

The Indians had four more wrestlers finish second, including Logan Brown at 106, Tristan Duckworth at 113, John Milsap at 138 and Andrew Davis at 152.

Zach Matthews (182), Cole Mayo (195) and Justin Cantrell (220) each placed third to qualify for sectionals.

Next up for Matthews’ team is a lofty goal of qualifying half of that lineup for state.

“The guys that are going are pretty good wrestlers, so we expect a lot of them (advance again),” Matthews said. “We don’t really put a number on it. We want each individual to be successful, and we’ll just see what happens.”

Despite sharing similar podium performances with Lumpkin County, Chestatee was still a long shot to win the overall title, even before the championship round began.

The Indians led the meet as early as the semifinal rounds, before consolation matches had taken place.

“In order to catch Lumpkin, we had to pin every single person and they had to lose every match (in the finals),”

War Eagles coach Carey Whitlow said. “It didn’t make mathematical sense, but we kind of knew that coming in after seeing the seeding.”

That confirmed the Indians’ upper hand in the rivalry, at least this season.

Lumpkin County edged Chestatee at area duals last month, then held off the War Eagles off again the following week in a consolation match at state duals in Macon. The Indians went on to finish fourth in Class AAAA.

Nevertheless, Chestatee is well-represented at sectionals as usual. Austin Donaldson (120), Christian Zapatero (126), Marvin Cunningham (138) and Joey Meruelo (220) will each begin next weekend’s bracket with favorable seedings after winning their weight class Saturday.

The gold medals didn’t come without close calls. Donaldson broke a 3-3 tie in the third period for his win over Eastside’s Levi Leach, and Cunningham rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third after rattling off five quick points against Milsap.

“It was pretty hard — I just had to get it together and pull it in to get the win,” Cunningham said. “Last time I wrestled him, it was pretty close. It’s been pretty close every time.”

Runner-ups for Chestatee were Garett Brader (145), Trevor Comeaux (160) and Greyson Entrekin (285).

The War Eagles’ other sectional qualifiers were Johnathan Alcala (fourth, 106), Matthew McClellan (third, 132), Zac Cheshire (third, 152) and Misael Vargas (fourth, 195).

“This is the smallest team I’ve had in seven years, so I think that’s about right,” Whitlow said. “We entered 13, so I guess that worked out. I’d like to take all of them, but it is what it is.”

Johnson finished third overall with 155 points, qualifying eight wrestlers for sectionals.

Two Knights finished runner-ups in their weight classes, including Tommy Luc at 132 and Yuriel Rodriguez at 195. Johnson also had the most grapplers finish third or fourth of any team in the area, with six.

That group includes Thai Cao (third, 126), Ismael Castro (third, 138), Aaron Martinez (fourth, 145), Martin Mireles (fourth, 182) and Ian Cundiff (fourth, 220).

TROJANS SEND SEVEN TO SECTIONALS: Caleb Hamilton (120), Michael Carew (132) and Darrien Ingram (195) each placed second, and North Hall qualified seven wrestlers for sectionals at the Area 4-AAA Traditional meet Saturday at Elbert County High.

Taylor Marrett (113) and Isaiah Hale (182) finished third for the Trojans. David Lush (138) and Matthew Scazuzzo (145) were fourth. Clay Williamson placed fifth at 126 and will serve as an alternate for sectionals.

North Hall tied with Oconee County for fourth place overall. Banks County took first over runner-up Buford, avenging a loss to the Wolves in the Class AAA state duals final last month.

Qualifying wrestlers from Area 4-AAA will compete in the Class AAA East Sectionals on Friday and Saturday at Morgan County High in Madison.

TWELVE RED ELEPHANTS ADVANCE: Rodney Timmons won an area title at 138 to lead 12 Gainesville wrestlers that advanced to sectionals at the Area 8-AAAAA Traditional meet Saturday at Davis Middle in Flowery Branch.

Kash Jones (220) and Triston Cantrell (182) each placed second. Ken Slenoy (113), Tyrek Slenning (120), Chastin Newman (170), Anthony Costantini (195) and Edgar Arroyo (285) each took third.

Fourth-place finishers for the Red Elephants were Daniel Hicks (126), Tristen Garrett (145) and Terrell Knight (152). Eric Castruitia placed fifth at 132 and will serve as an alternate.

Gainesville finished third overall. Flowery Branch was second, finishing only behind Clarke Central.

Area 8-AAAAA’s qualifying wrestlers advance to Class AAAAA East Sectionals on Friday and Saturday at Cambridge High in Milton.

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