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Wrestling: Lambert hosting competitive field at Hook'em Holiday Clash
Lambert's Cole Burke should be one of the more compelling wrestlers to watch at this weekend's Hook'em Holiday Clash. - photo by Brian Paglia

This is, Lambert wrestling head coach Kevin Contardi says, a hard time of year to construct a competitive high school tournament. Depending on the year, many of Georgia’s top teams use this time to travel out of state to events.

But a combination of early work and out-of-state competitors should make the 36 teams in this weekend’s Hook’em Holiday Clash at Lambert a competitive traditional-style tournament field at a crucial time for Georgia teams.

“If you can place in this tournament, you should feel pretty confident in placing at the state tournament,” Contardi said.

Contardi expects Brandon High School from Florida to be the favorite going in. The Eagles won Florida’s Class 2A state championship last season, the program’s 16th in a row and 27th overall. Brandon holds the national record for the longest winning streak by a high school sports team with 459 consecutive dual victories, spanning 34 years.

“They’re one of the elite teams in the Southeast United States,” Contardi said.

But there’s also strong representation from Georgia, including the likes of Chattahoochee, North Forsyth, North Hall, Pope and Toombs County. Almost every team entrant is used to producing wrestlers that place at the state tournament.

Even better, the field also includes local participants from Forsyth Central, North and West Forsyth; good timing with the teams facing off in the Area 5-7A duals next Saturday, where the top two teams will advance to the GHSA Team Duals Wrestling State Championships.

“It’s a good measuring stick for everybody,” Contardi said.

The Longhorns could use another opportunity to gauge the progress of an inexperienced lineup. Contardi said the team has endured the usual illnesses and injuries, but are also relying on several young contributors this season.

Three of those stood out last week at Loganville’s Eric Hill Memorial Tournament. Lucas Teilon placed second at 113 pounds, while Holden Teilon placed third at 120 and Austin Monie placed fourth at 106.

“They performed well in that environment,” Contardi said. “They rose up and took advantage of opportunities.”

Lambert’s senior leaders in Cole Burke (160) and Will Kohlins (182) helped the team placed third out of 20 teams in the field. Each placed first in their respective weight class.

“Will is ahead of where he was at this point and time last year,” Contardi said. “…And for Cole, I mean, he’s just on fire. He always wants to wrestle the best people and see where he’s at. He’s proven himself to be one of the elite wrestlers around this year.”