ELLIJAY — Micah Mills didn’t come away with a trophy for the two pins he recorded in the opening day of the Area 7-AAA traditional wrestling meet on Friday in Ellijay. And this Johnson High senior’s strong performance at 189 pounds hasn’t qualified him yet for next weekend’s state finals at the Gwinnett Arena.
But Mills is only one win away from recording his first trip to the state finals, and two wins away from becoming the Knights’ first Area champion in a number of years.
Mills matches up against Lumpkin County’s Brandon Roberts in the semifinals this morning for a chance to secure a berth in the finals.
"It means everything to be able to go to state as a senior," Mills said. "Last year I broke my hand and wasn’t able to go to state.
"My goal this year is to finish in the top 10, and anything on top of that is just icing on the cake."
Mills was one of 56 wrestlers out of the 14 weight classes to secure a spot in today’s traditional semifinals.
The format of the traditionals is to reward wrestlers on an individual basis.
Mills is not the only wrestler in Hall County looking to make his first trip to state.
North Hall senior Zack Agerton (130) has also advanced to the semifinals after winning his only match of the day on Friday. Agerton matches up against West Hall’s Colby Yates in the semifinals this morning for a berth in the finals.
"It’s pretty exciting," Agerton said. "I’ve wrestled all four years to go to state, and now it comes down to this."
West Hall’s Chan Morris (152) picked up a pin in the second round of his only match on Friday against his opponent from Johnson and faces Lumpkin County’s Michael Barrett this morning to qualify for state.
"I’ve worked too hard this season not to make it to state," Morris said.
Flowery Branch has qualified five wrestlers for the semifinals including Zach Cannon (103), Danny Bell (112), Ben Yu (140), Corey Johnson (160) and Tom Pennington (215).
According to Falcons coach Shane Lancaster, the story for his team this weekend has been the effort of Cannon who has battled an illness all week to be able to compete.
He expects at least three of his wrestlers to qualify for state, and "a battle" for the other two to get into state.
"I’m so proud of these kids," Lancaster said. "They always go out and give 100 percent for our team."
It’s not a surprise that area duals champion and defending state champion Gilmer has put the most grapplers into the semifinals. The Bobcats placed all 14 of their wrestlers including Danyuhl Becker (103), Ethan Gudger (112), Luke Mosley (119), Dale Becker (125), Cody Bollinger (130), Mikey Mooney (135), Michael Fox (140), Jordan Gray (145), Hunter Barnes (152), Lewis Hensley (160), David Snider (171), E.J. Jackson (189), Wesley Nestor (215) and Landon Bramlett (275).
This is the second straight season that Gilmer has all 14 wrestlers advance to the semifinals in the traditionals. This is probably the deepest group of Bobcats wrestlers. Gilmer’s seniors are undefeated in region matches in their career, and have won 80 percent of their individual matches, according to Bobcats coach Sam Snider.
"We have 12 seniors on this team that are like having 12 more coaches," Snider said. "They want to help the younger kids, and help make everyone better."
Also qualifying for the semifinals are Wesley Forrester (103), James Snipes (112), Todd Berry (119), William Alaniz (145), Michael Barrett (152), Jake McClure (171), Roberts (189), Nick Rauth (215) and Cody Cantrell (275) from Lumpkin County.
White County qualified Anthony Brady (103), Joseph Albrecht (130), Mitchell Bardenwerper (135), Jamal Payette (145), Blake Limbaugh (160), John Young (171) and Tyler Hamilton (275). Advancing to the semifinals from Chestatee are Julian Oliger (119), Conner Comeaux (125) and Guillermo Casas (215). Dane Hicks (125) is the lone Gainesville wrestler to advance into the semifinals.
Also advancing to the semifinals from Johnson is Joey Wirsing (171). North Hall’s Nick Quinn (135) and Jason Day (152) both qualified for the semifinals.
Today’s finals are expected to start at 5 p.m. at Gilmer High.