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North Hall wrestlers go unbeaten to win Hall County championship
Trojans finish 7-0 over two-day span for first county title in 12 years
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Eric Camacho, of West Hall, tries to pin Chestatee’s Joey Meruelo on Saturday on the way to winning the 220-pound match. - photo by Nat Gurley | The Times

Hall County championships

Final standings

1. North Hall, 7-0
2. Chestatee, 6-1
3. Flowery Branch, 5-2
4. Gainesville, 4-3
5. West Hall, 3-4
6. East Hall, 2-5
7. Johnson, 1-7
8. Riverside Military, 0-8

Weight class champions

106: Holden Barnes, North Hall
113: Ronnie Link, Flowery Branch
120: Caleb Hamilton, North Hall
126: Christian Zapatero, Chestatee
132: Michael Carew, North Hall
138: Marvin Cunningham, Chestatee
145: Brady Dyer, Flowery Branch
152: Zach Winter, Flowery Branch
160: Elliott Raiford, West Hall
170: Nick Whitmire, North Hall
182: Grant Simonds, Flowery Branch
195: Davante King, Flowery Branch
220: Kash Jones, Gainesville
285: J.D. Holloway, East Hall

North Hall’s wrestling team didn’t get discouraged when a Hall County championship victory meant going through Chestatee and Flowery Branch.

The Trojans got motivated instead.

North Hall fended off both state-qualifying teams to go unbeaten in Day 2 of the county championships and finish 7-0 overall for the title Saturday at Riverside Military Academy.

The Trojans stunned Chestatee with an 18-point rally to win 39-35 in their third match of the day, then battled past the Falcons 39-29 in their final match to secure their first county title in 12 years.

“At the beginning of the season, I thought we’d have a pretty good chance to just come in here and dominate it,” North Hall 120-pounder Caleb Hamilton said. “But later on in the season as the rosters started getting more in-depth for the other teams, that doubt kind of settled in. But we were still strong enough to get it done.”

The Trojans entered the second day of the championship as one of only two teams remaining with an unbeaten record, alongside Chestatee.

Both teams were 5-0 when they finally met in their sixth overall match. Then things got interesting.

The War Eagles led 35-21 through 11 weight classes, building a comfortable lead with pinfalls at 182, 220 and 285 after a back-and-forth battle in the middleweight rounds.

It provided North Hall’s lightweights, the Trojans’ strongest stretch of their lineup, with a chance to shine.

They recorded three straight pins at 106, 113 and 120, with Hamilton notching the match-winning pin in the first period. It was just enough for the Trojans to slip ahead in the final weight class.

“I don’t really think there was any pressure,” said Hamilton, who was named the 120-pound individual champion. “It was just going out there and doing what I’ve been trained to do for eight years.”

The Trojans’ lightweights were also key in the their win over Flowery Branch, notching three of North Hall’s last four wins against the Falcons — all by pinfalls — to turn a one-point contest into a decisive victory.

“Our lightweights have done really, really well all season long,” Trojans coach Jay Hargis said. “At this point in the season, we can kind of judge how the boys are doing, and we knew we can rely on some pins right there.”

The Trojans opened the day with a 75-0 shutout against Johnson before defeating East Hall 50-15. They were the highest-scoring team with 371 points.

With the final dual meet of the season wrapped up, focus returns to preparing for the traditional schedule, which begins with area meets next weekend and ends at Gwinnett Arena on Feb. 13-15.

Getting back to practice with a first-place trophy certainly can’t hurt.

“I think for our some of how our less-experienced guys, it really pushes them to excel,” Hargis said. “Because of the team factor, they really wanted to do their best, and now they know they can. I’m hoping they’ll take that in to the area tournament.”

Chestatee, last season’s county champion, finished 6-1 overall to place second.

The War Eagles opened the second day 3-0, and continued to pile up the wins with a 48-24 victory over East Hall in the morning. They then held off West Hall 39-33 after the Spartans surged late in the match with three wins in the last four weight classes.

They followed up the North Hall loss with a 66-15 win over meet host Riverside.

“We were missing some kids that would’ve been critical,” Chestatee coach Carey Whitlow said. “The guys that did showed up, we’re very, very proud of them, because they went 6-1 out here. That’s pretty impressive for not having a full team.

“Our guys did their best, and I can’t ask for anything else.”

Third-place Flowery Branch went 5-2 overall, winning three straight matches on Saturday before falling to North Hall at the end of the day. The Falcons swept Riverside 82-0, then topped Gainesville 60-15 and East Hall 51-21.

The Red Elephants finished fourth at 4-3, with second-day wins over West Hall, Riverside and Johnson.

West Hall placed fifth at 3-4, East Hall finished sixth at 2-5 and Johnson defeated Riverside 54-27 for its lone win and seventh place. The Eagles placed eighth.

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