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Wrestling: North Forsyth finishes as Class 7A runner-up; West Forsyth rallies for 3rd
North Forsyth senior Bentley Wheeler, top, wrestles against Colquitt County's Russell Flowers Saturday during the Class 7A semifinals. - photo by David Roberts

Camden County might be a machine, but for about the first half of Saturday's Class 7A duals state championship, North Forsyth threatened to throw a wrench in the Wildcats' plans for an eighth straight title.

The Raiders opened the championship bout with three falls through the first six weight classes, with Bentley Wheeler, Tristan Graham and Dylan Lyerly each pinning their opponent to help North to an 18-17 lead, but Camden County took the last eight matches and won 56-18.

West Forsyth fell 38-30 to North Paulding in the first round of the eight-team, double-elimination tournament, but the Wolverines rallied through the consolation bracket to beat Lambert [42-31], Colquitt County [34-31] and Mill Creek [42-40], finishing third in the state.

Lambert ran up against Camden in its first match of the day before falling to region foe West.

North is the state duals runner-up for the second time in school history. The Raiders also finished as the Class 6A runner-up in 2016.

"I was proud of my kids, and it was kind of like the last time we were there when we wrestled Archer," North head coach Travis Jarrard said. "Go out there and fight. Give it your best shot. Nobody backed down, nobody quit, and they came out attacking. Look at Eli [Edwards]. He's down 1-0, and hey, 'Just, go for broke,' and he did. We didn't get it, but the thing is, we won three matches and were up 18-17 after six matches."

Edwards fell 5-0 to Anthony Yancey moments after Camden County's Deonte Dozier pinned Collin Miller to give the Wildcats a 23-18 lead.

Edwards and Yancey wrestled to a scoreless tie through the first two periods before Yancey scored off an escape. Knowing North would need the points, Edwards went for the pin, but Yancey repulsed his shot and ultimately tacked on a takedown and a nearfall to pad the lead.

After the lineup turned over, Camden County collected three pins, a tech fall, a major decision and a minor decision to secure the win. 

Edwards was at the heart of North's 46-19 win against Lowndes in the quarterfinals, too, when he rallied from an 11-3 deficit to pin Peyton Gunn in the third period, turning an eight-point lead into a 30-16 advantage.

"The thing about it too is, when a heavyweight goes on his back, they don't usually get up. He did it twice," Jarrard said. "Then he came back and put the kid on his back. The first time there was the injury, and the second time it was over."

Two matches later, Reece Meyers' 12-2 win at 113 pounds guaranteed North's win over Lowndes and sent Meyers hurtling toward the Raiders' bench in celebration.

His 6-3 win against Colquitt County's Eric Henson clinched North's 49-18 win against the Packers and was part of the Raiders' 43-0 run through the final nine weight classes.

"I can't say enough about Reece Meyers," Jarrard said. "I mean, last year that kid was a 106-pounder, second-year wrestler, below .500 record. Then his sophomore year, his two wins — one's against Lowndes and one's against Colquitt — were the clinching wins to put us in the state finals. That's why I love this sport. We don't these kids that have been doing it since they were 4, 5, 6 years old. There's no baseball tryout at age 4 that they're getting ready for. Most of these kids, they started in eighth grade or ninth grade, one of the two."

Reed Walker [113], Noah Amick [120], Noah Danforth [126], Zane Brooks [195] each went undefeated for West, with the four wrestlers combining for 11 pins.

Walker pinned all four of his opponents, Amick collected two pins, a tech fall and a win by forfeit, Danforth earned three pins and a decision, and Brooks picked up two pins, a decision and a win by forfeit. 

West has placed in the top three in Class 7A duals the past three seasons, including last year's runner-up finish and a third-place showing in 2020.