GAINESVILLE—The look on West Hall wrestler Colby Yates’ face displayed how badly he wanted to lead the Spartan wrestling team to their third consecutive Hall County Duals Championship.
As Yates stepped onto the mat at the Chestatee High School gym for his first match with Johnson wrestler Nicholas Robertson, his face showed poise and determination.
The senior grappler breezed past Robertson, pinning him in the latter stages of the first period, then won his second match by way of forfeit and surpassed Gainesville grad Bo Wren on the Hall County career wins list, bringing his total to 190.
"It feels good," Yates said with a smile when asked about breaking the record. "When I saw that it was set last year and I saw how many wins I had, I immediately set it as one of my goals."
The tournament, which lasts two days, pits teams against one another over seven rounds, with one school receiving a bye in each round.
After the first day, West Hall and Flowery Branch led the way with 2-0 records. North Hall is 2-1, Chestatee and East Hall each have a win and a loss a piece, while Johnson sits at 1-2 and Gainesville at 0-3.
The final rounds begin at 9 a.m. today at the Chestatee High gym.
"It was just very important to get off to a strong start today," Yates said. "We’re taking these matches one match at a time and not overlooking anybody, but trying to be our best at the same time."
The Spartans got the start they wanted, winning easily in their first two rounds, over Johnson in the first round (64-18) and North Hall in the second (48-24).
"I told the guys before the tournament that we must take it one match a time," West Hall coach Rod Galvan said. "I have told the guys to be enthusiastic and to stick together with team unity.
"I feel like we did a good job at that today, but tomorrow will be tough with Chestatee, East Hall, Gainesville and Flowery Branch."
The team unity Galvan asked for was displayed during Chris Price’s match with North Hall’s Colby Mcclain.
McClain held a 13-3 lead with only seconds remaining in the third period when Price flipped McClain over, eliciting an eruption from fellow Spartan wrestlers and West Hall fans. Price then overpowered McClain, earning West Hall six points for the pin.
West Hall’s Diego Ochoa then followed with a pin of his own, and the Spartans pulled away with a 24-point victory.
"It was such a huge win," Galvan said. "At that point, the team score was pretty close. Everyone in the gym was expecting a quick pin, or a technical fall, but when Chris (Price) put (McClain) on his back, everyone just went crazy.
"It was a huge momentum for our team, our 215 (pounder) and our 103 (pounder). In my opinion, that was the turning point of the match."