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High school wrestling: Chestatee boys, girls make historic showings at state duals
Chestatee's wrestling team celebrates winning the Region 8-4A duals Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023, at Chestatee. Photo courtesy Chestatee wrestling program

Chestatee’s quest for the school’s first state boys and girls state wrestling dual-meet championships came up a bit short, with both teams falling to eventual state champions in their respective tournaments.

However, that doesn’t mean the weekend wasn’t a big one for either team.

The War Eagles boys posted the program’s highest-ever finish at state duals by placing third in the Class 4A tournament Saturday at the Lovett School in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Lady War Eagles took to the mat in the Georgia High School Association’s first all-classification girls state duals tournament and advanced to the semifinals before tying for fifth Friday at Buford City Arena.

In Saturday’s action, Chestatee’s boys (38-4 in dual meets this season) downed Sonoraville 42-21 in the quarterfinals before falling to eventual state champion Central-Carrollton 46-27 in the semis.

However, the War Eagles bounced back well from the loss by scoring wins of Heritage-Catoosa (48-31) in the consolation semis and Region 8-4A rival North Oconee (42-30) in the consolation finals.

The third-place finish topped the program’s previous best finish in a state duals tournament of sixth place, which is a big step forward for head coach Scott DeGraff’s program.

“I’m really proud of the guys for that,” DeGraff said. “We wrestled tough. We wrestled a really good Sonoraville team right out of the gate. You talk to people around the state and they’ll tell you that’s one of the toughest first-round matchups.

“Hats off to (Central-Carrollton). We just didn’t have enough, and that’s OK. We’re in Year 3 of … trying to build (the program) back up, and our kid are buying into exactly what we’re doing. We just ran into a team that was better than us (Saturday). We had a chance to back off and feel sorry for ourselves or turn around and pick it up and see what we can do. … And our kids fought back (in the consolation bracket).”

Eli Raines (132 pounds), T.J. Terry (144), Angel Garduno (157) and Tristan Minor (190) won all four of their individual matches Saturday to lead the War Eagles.

Meanwhile, Chestatee’s girls also found their way into the girls semifinals a day earlier by beating Campbell 66-18 in the first round to set up a matchup with Carrollton.

And while the Lady War Eagles suffered a heartbreaking 41-40 decision to the eventual state champion Lady Trojans, and then fell to Greenbrier 53-27 in the consolation semis, DeGraff was equally pleased with the team’s effort, which was led by Courtney Hawkins at 105 pounds, Abby Plemons at 135 and Ashley Godinez at 170.

“I’m proud of the girls’ fight,” DeGraff said. “This is the first time we’ve been in a situation like that before. One of the hardest matches, in my opinion, in an eight-team tournament is the consolation semifinal. You’re coming off of a loss (in the championship semis), and the team you’re wrestling is coming off a win.

“We just couldn’t recover fast enough, and I just thought that Greenbrier … had a great game plan for our group. Our girls fought hard. We lost by one point to the team that won (the whole tournament). I hate moral victories, but if there is one, that makes you feel a little bit better.”

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