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Wrestling: Thirty-two local wrestlers qualify for sectionals
Ten Forsyth grapplers claim area crowns
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West Forsyth's Denver Stonecheck controls his opponent, Jordan Pitt of Chattahoochee, in the 106-pound final at the Area 6-AAAAAA traditional championships on Saturday at North Forsyth. - photo by Jared Putnam

North Forsyth had an impressive day on the wrestling mats despite falling short of its third straight area title.

Chattahoochee (201 points) barely edged out the Raiders (200) for first place at the Area 6-AAAAAA traditional championships on Saturday at Raider Arena, but North qualified nine wrestlers for state sectionals, including four area champions.

"I’m pleased with the way a lot of our kids wrestled today, but I would’ve liked for that number to have been a little bit higher," North head coach Travis Jarrard said.

"I know that there were some kids that left some stuff on the mat today."

A total of 30 wrestlers from Forsyth County schools placed fourth or better at the Area 6 meet to qualify for sectionals, while two Forsyth Central wrestlers advanced from the Area 7-AAAAA championships.

Luke Slaton (126 pounds), Ara Johnson (138), Shane Cross (145) and Austin Thornton (182) took first place in their respective weight classes for North.

Slaton boasted a win by fall in the semifinals and held the Wolverines’ Tanner Horak scoreless in the championship match with a 6-0 decision, while Johnson used three straight wins by fall to claim first.

Cross followed the same strategy and used consecutive wins by fall to advance to the final where he won his weight class with a decision victory over West Forsyth’s Nick Vogel.

Thornton won the championship with ease after a win by fall in the semifinals and a 10-4 decision over the Cougars’ Sean Hoffman in the finals.

"I felt like I put my hard work in, put the time in practice in, and glad I got first," Thornton said. "I usually feel a little bit of pressure from my teammates, but it’s something you got to control and just make up your mind to do your thing."

Senior Matt Carroll (160) entered the day undefeated with 44 consecutive wins, but suffered his first loss of the season to Chattahoochee’s Josh McMahan in the championship match on a 10-2 major decision.

"His season isn’t over," Jarrard said. "We still have two weeks to go. We’ll see how he responds from here. He still has just a good of an opportunity to win a state title right now as he did at the beginning of this day because everything starts over next week."

North also qualified Nash (second, 113 pounds), Preston Ernst (second, 120), Chad Warner (third, 152), Carroll (second, 160) and Steven Anthony (fourth, 220).

The Wolverines took third in the overall standings (159 points) and advanced eight grapplers to sectionals, including two champions, senior Will Brown (195 pounds) and freshman Denver Stonecheck (106).

Brown was able to corral his opponent in the semifinals to win by fall with 4:15 left on the clock. The championship match was more difficult, but the result was the same, as Brown defeated the Cougars’ Chris Wedel in an 8-6 decision.

Stonecheck topped Lambert’s Matthew Sheetz in the semifinals with a win by fall before he squeaked out a 12-10 decision and knocked off the previously undefeated Jordan Pitt of Chattahoochee for first.

"I just felt like the underdog because he took me earlier this season," Stonecheck said. "I just went out and gave it my all. My goal was just not to get pinned in that match. Once it started going back and forth, I started to play a little more defensive because I wanted to keep it close.

"I’m really happy, but I’m afraid if I have to wrestle him again that he’s going to be really mad. I’m just hoping to place in the top eight [at sectionals] and move on to state. I think I can do it."

West also qualified Jacob Miller (third, 113 pounds), Micah Dickman (third, 120), Horak (second, 126), Austin Rothenberger (fourth, 138), Vogel (second, 145) and Gavin Hutchinson (third, 160).

Lambert placed fifth (130 points), but still managed to qualify six wrestlers, including first place finishers Andrew Morin (113 pounds), David Gastley (132) and Gantt Bauer (220).

Morin used a first-round bye to advance to the semifinals before topping South Forsyth’s Shane Beckley by a 10-4 decision. The junior faced North’s Jake Nash in the championship and won the low-scoring affair with a 4-3 decision.

Bauer made short work of his opponents with back-to-back wins by fall.

Gastley didn’t have the luxury of a first-round bye, but won his first match by five points and second match by three. He then took first place with a 7-5 decision over Chattahoochee’s Matt Picus for his first tournament win of the season.

"I’ve never placed in an area tournament like this," Gastley said. "It felt pretty awesome to have my name called as the 6A area champion; it’s pretty great. When the ref blew the whistle and we stood up, I didn’t really know how much time we had left and I didn’t know I’d won until he raised my hand."

Lambert also qualified Sheetz (third, 106 pounds), Logan Wood (fourth, 195) and Joey Salgado (third, 170).

South finished in sixth place with 123 points. Senior heavyweight Michael Scullin was the War Eagles’ only champion, but the team qualified seven for sectionals.

Scullin picked up a semifinal victory at the 1:58 mark with a win by fall and hung on to win the championship with a 4-2 decision over Centennial’s Jacob Jernigan.

"I just wrestled to not make mistakes," Scullin said. "I just wanted to get a nice match in to get ready for sectionals. I’d wrestled this guy before and I’d done fairly well against him.

"Our team did a great job today, placing seven people in sectionals is pretty big."

South also qualified Shane Beckley (fourth, 113 pounds), Sid Haynes (fourth, 120), Daniel Rech (third, 132), Felipe Hayes (fourth, 145), River Faulkner (fourth, 160) and Khalil Rice (fourth, 182).

The Class 6A east sectional meet will be held this weekend at Chattahoochee High School.

Connor Fenn (second) and Nathan Kistler (third) qualified for Central at the Area 7-AAAAA meet and will compete at the Class 5A east sectional in Loganville. The Bulldogs finished seventh in the team standings.