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North Hall wrestling squad eyes championship at state team duals meet
Trojans trying to improve on third-place finish from 2 years ago
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Bryson Smith, right, wrestles with fellow teammate Matthew Glenn during varsity wrestling practice at North Hall High School in Gainesville, on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. Smith will be competing in the Class 3A state wrestling tournament for the second consecutive year. - photo by David Barnes

North Hall’s wrestling team has started to see some of the fruits of its labor. 

From summer workouts to practices at 6:45 a.m. before classes to sessions after school, all the work became worth it when the Trojans were crowned the 2018 Area 4-3A Dual champions this past weekend at Jackson County High School. 

But North Hall is not satisfied with just an area championship — the Trojans will have their eyes set on the Class 3A state title when they compete in the team duals Thursday-Saturday at the Macon Centreplex in Macon. North Hall carries a No. 1 seed into the state tournament by virtue of its Area 4-3A title.

“It feels awesome. We’re really excited,” Trojans wrestler Bryson Smith said. “I think we can pull it off this year. I think we can be the best team that ever came through North Hall.”

The North Hall junior has already made it to this stage in his career, but he’s still seeking a state championship after the 2016 team placed third at state. North Hall missed the state tournament as a team last year, but Smith went on to compete individually in the traditional state competition.

Smith fell short of a state title when he lost to Trevor Burdick of Sonoraville in the finals. Now the opportunity to win a championship with his team is here, and he wants it more than ever.

“I want to win state. It is the biggest thing for me,” Smith said. “I would love to win traditional state, but team state, this is what it is all about. That is my biggest goal, to win as a team.”

The Trojan wrestlers were not sure how big of a run they could make this season, but they gained confidence after finishing first in a tournament at Mountain View on Dec. 3.

“I don’t know if we thought we would make it in the beginning of the season,” Smith said. “We knew we could get close, but we did not think we were as good. We went to Mountain View — they are a 7A school — and we wrestled in that tournament and won. We knew after that we can make it and we were good.”

Senior Trojan John Pedraza is anxious and excited for his team, knowing everyone has to play their part.

“I want to bring it back and win it all this year,” Pedraza said. “I am so eager to rewrite history for us. Every single match counts, (and) everybody has to do their job. That’s all I am thinking about. That’s all I want.”

Pedraza’s younger brother Jacob is a freshman who is used to being on a championship stage. He was a runner-up as a seventh-grader in middle school and a state champion in eighth grade. Now he has a chance to win a title with North Hall.

“It’s all that I have been thinking about all season,” Jacob Pedraza said.

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