Saturday March 2nd, 2024 5:32AM

STATE CHAMPS! Lumpkin Co. snags 3A Duals wrestling title; Buford, NHall take 2nd

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

DAHLONEGA, Ga. — Lumpkin County won its first-ever State Duals wrestling title, holding off defending Class 3A champion Columbus in a thriller, 34-33, on Saturday at the Lumpkin County gym.

Eight northeast Georgia area teams advanced to Saturday’s semifinals of the Georgia High School Association State Duals.

However, Buford (Class 7A), North Hall (4A), and Lumpkin County were the only ones who managed to get into the finals. Only the Indians were able to walk away with a title trophy.

With Lumpkin leading Columbus 34-29, it came down to the final individual match at 113-pounds between the Indians’ Aiden Marshall and Columbus’s Cedric Montgomery with the Blue Devils able to snatch victory with a pin.

Montgomery was leading Marshall 11-0 but Marshall was able to deny Montgomery a pin several times during the match, which resulted in just 4-points and an Indians title.

Columbus led 12-3 after the first four matches but Lumpkin would take control winning four straight from 144 to 165, three by pin. Nathan Nielsen (144), Jonah Holmes (150), and AJ Scott (157) all took pins and Jacob Pricer capped the flurry of wins with a 4-3 decision at 165  to give the Indians a 24-12 lead.

Columbus chipped away with wins at 175 and 190 but Lumpkin got a huge pin from Mike Nichols at 215 and a Major Fall victory from Geovany Hernandez at 106 for a 34-29 lead.

It’s not the first wrestling title for Lumpkin County, which won a Traditional title in 1981 in Class 2A. But it is the Indians’ first Duals title since the GHSA created the Duals championships in 2002.

Lumpkin didn’t have the only exciting finish.

In Class 7A, Buford could not have come any closer to dethroning nine-time defending champion Camden County. The Wolves won two of the last three matches to force a 31-31 tie when Grayson Santee got a Technical Fall at 175 and Conor McCloskey finished the match with a pin at 215.

But the Wildcats made it 10-straight titles, eight in Class 7A, winning the match on the stall warnings criteria. Buford was called for 5 stalls to just 2 for Camden County.

It was the second consecutive season the Wolves fell to the powerful Wildcats in the Duals finals.

“Camden has not lost in 10 years,” Buford coach Tom Beuglas said. “I am very proud of our guys. They wrestled their hearts out. We’ll go back to work next week.”

Camden County moved into the finals against Buford with a 62-16 win over Mill Creek. The Wolves followed with a dominating 59-9 win over West Forsyth to set up the title rematch.

For North Hall in the Class 4A title match, a strong Central-Carroll squad, the defending 4A champion, was just too much in a 47-33 win over the Trojans.

The Lions opened the match with a Technical Fall and five straight pins in the lower and middle weights for a quick and stunning 35-0 advantage.

“Their lower weights are really good. They have a couple of All-Americans and a lot of experience that some of our kids didn’t have,” North Hall coach Mason Patton said.

After the early-match onslaught, North Hall began to climb back into the match when Connor Free got a pin at 150. Landon Martin followed with a 4-3 win at 157 to close it to 35-9.

Ezekiel Harris (175), Parker Carlton (190), Kade Hawthorne (215) and Kamden Merritt (285) all got pins for the Trojans to get within 41-33. However, Andrew Sheffield’s pin of Daniel Jones at 165 for Central-Carroll clinched the match before North Hall’s string of pins.

“Noone likes to lose but considering what our kids did on breaking expectations, I’m happy with second,” Patton said. “They fought back and showed that we are the true second team in Class 4A. I have no complaints really.”

The most stunning loss for area teams came in Jefferson, where the defending champion Dragons, and host school in Class 5A, were taken down by Cass, 36-33, in a rematch of last year’s 5A final.

That dropped Jefferson into the consolation bracket. The Dragons beat Harris County 50-29 but Woodland-Cartersville held off Jefferson 38-36 in the third place match.

In Class 6A, North Forsyth and Jackson County both fell in the semifinal round. The Raiders lost 48-13 to defending champion South Effingham in a rematch of last year’s final. The Panthers lost 49-30 to Glynn Academy.

The losses knocked both into the consolation bracket. North Forsyth was knocked out in a 33-30 loss to Creekview while the Panthers also were knocked out by Woodward Academy, 39-34.

In the Class 4A consolation bracket, Chestatee had a long day but was able to get into the third place match. The War Eagles beat Holy Innocents’ 51-21, knocked off Benedictine, 39-36, and then took down Northwest Whitfield, 34-31. But they could not get past Lovett in a close 38-36 loss to finish fourth.

In Class 2A, No. 2 seed Union County was ousted by Toombs County in a 47-33 loss. For the Panthers, that set up a matchup with region foe Banks County in the consolation bracket.

Banks County, however, would come all the way back to take third overall. The Leopards upset Union County, 42-33, to move into the third place match against Cook. They closed out the Hornets, 49-23, to take third.

In Class A, Commerce was knocked out of the championship bracket with a 57-24 loss to Social Circle. The Tigers rallied in the consolation bracket, beating Oglethorpe County 36-27 and then routing Trion, 58-17, in the third-place match.

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