ELLIJAY— Make no mistake, Gilmer wrestling is as good as advertised and the Bobcats proved it Saturday on the final day of the Area 7-AAA traditionals.
Not that there was ever any doubt.
The Bobcats, who the area’s coaches tabbed as the hands-down favorite entering the weekend, are the defending Class AAA traditional state champs and ran away with the 7-AAA duals title last month.
Saturday, the Bobcats qualified 13 of their 14 wrestlers for the state tournament, placed 10 in the finals and took home five individual championship to run away with area title, racking up 264 total team points.
Lumpkin County finished second with 145.5 points, as three Indians took home individual titles and six others qualified for next week’s state meet at The Arena at Gwinnett.
A pair of Indian wrestler’s were involved in two of the most intense matches of the finals. In the 103-pound division, Lumpkin County’s Wesley Forrester entered the third period down 4-2 to Gilmer’s Danyuhl Becker, but stormed back with four quick points in the first 30 seconds of the final period and held on the rest of the way.
At 189 pounds, fellow Indian Brandon Roberts survived two nerve-wracking overtimes and emerged with a one-point win over Lee McMahan of Pickens.
Other Indians advancing to state include: William Alaniz (first place, 145), Jake McClure (second place, 171), Michael Barrett (third place, 152), Todd Berry (fourth place, 119), Chris Burnett (fourth place, 140), Nick Rauth (fourth place, 215) and Cody Cantrell (fourth place, 275).
Flowery Branch enjoyed the best finish of Hall County-based schools, placing fourth on the strength of two individual champs: Tom Pennington (215), who quickly pinned Jeff Burnett of Pickens, and Danny Bell (112) who methodically picked apart Gilmer’s Ethan Gudger for a major decision win.
Other Falcons qualifiers included third-place finishers: Zach Cannon (103), Ben Yu (140) and Corey Johnson (160).
West Hall senior Colby Yates ran his season record to 53-1 and brought home the 130-pound individual title for the Spartans in a 14-0 major decision win over Gilmer’s Cody Bollinger.
Tanner Yates finished in third place at 112, and Chan Morris fell just short of an area title, losing in the 152 finals to Gilmer’s Hunter Barnes. James Gray (fourth place, 145) also earned a spot in the state tournament.
Chestatee’s Conner Comeaux took second place at 125 and will be joined at state by teammate Julian Olinger, who finished in third in the 119-pound class.
White County, which took fifth place in team points, will have seven wrestlers competing in state, including second-finishers Jamal Payette (145) and Tyler Hamilton (275).
North Hall will send four wrestlers to the state tournament with Kyle Patton (112), Zach Agerta (130), Nick Quinn (135) and Jason Day (152) all qualifying with fourth place finishes.
West Forsyth finished sixth place in the tournament with 95.5 points. Dane Magnusen won the region title in the heavyweight division. Freshman Tyler Everton (135) finished second for West Forsyth.
Johnson had two wreslters qualify for state withJoey Wirsing (171) and Micah Mills (189) finishing in third place. The Knights finished in ninth place as a team.
Gainesville qualified one wreslter, Dane Hicks (125).