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Posted: Sunday, February 23rd 2014 at 7:35am

STATE CHAMPS: Buford, Jefferson and Commerce all claim traditionals crowns

By Luke Story Staff
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Buford's Eli Hartley, right, celebrates a state championship on Saturday at Buford. / photo: David McGregor
Months of blood, sweat and steadfast determination proved golden for three northeast Georgia wrestling programs on Saturday.

And while Buford, Commerce and Jefferson may have had to wait an extra week and shuffle their travel plans for the state traditional championships, any hassels were well and truly washed away in an outpouring of joy on Saturday, as each program claimed team crowns.

Jefferson continued its unparalleled supremacy, winning the program’s 14th straight team title at Toombs County High – while Commerce seized its second straight traditionals team crown in front of its hometown fans.

Just as Commerce had the home “mat” advantage, Buford too leveraged the sight of familiar grounds and a rowdy hometown crowd to win the program’s first ever traditional state title and its second state championship on the year after winning the duals crown earlier in the season.

“Having the matches held here in our own place was just the spark we needed to win the title… I mean did you hear how loud the fans were,” Buford head coach Rob Carlyle said.

Buford rode the momentum of a packed house to a team total of 156 points to, rolling past second place Banks County by 55 points – North Hall tallied 74.5 points to finish fifth.

The Wolves’ six individual titles proved too much for any team to challenge -- one of the crowns notching a place in state history.

Chip Ness celebrated a record-setting fourth consecutive state crown Saturday -- only 25 wrestlers had accomplished the feat previously. Yet the feat was actually matched twice over on the day, as Ness’s good friend and sparring partner Chance McClure of Commerce also claimed title No. 4, winning the Class A 220 pound crown.

“Ten years of training and hard work lead to this match, this opponent and this specific moment,” Ness said. “I am so blessed.”

Ness faced a determined opponent in Towers’ Stevenson Derival in the finals -- who managed to take Ness down early in the second period before the Buford dynamo pinned Derival in the third.

“I just wanted to enjoy my last match and wanted to try a new move,” Ness said. “That put me a little out of my comfort zone and Derival capitalized on the opportunity. It made me a little nervous and made me tell myself it was time to get back to the old Chip.”

Ness was only one part of a six-pack of wolves that claimed individual titles Saturday. Teammates Eli Hartley (106 pounds), Darius Bunch (120), Jack Barber (126), Brayden Hartley (132) and Rudy Guillen (145) – all added the accolade of state champion to their resumes.

The moment proved especially sweet for the junior Guillen, who only took up the sport near the end of his freshman year.

“I played football for 10 years and realized I wasn’t very successful at it, so I turned to wrestling at the end of my ninth-grade year,” said Guillen, who won in his title match in dominating fashion, 10-2, over Cartersville Evan Cole. “Going one-on-one with someone in your own weight class was the best thing that could happen to me. It just clicked for me.”

Wrestling undoubtedly has clicked for the Wolves, who had never claimed a team title before this season.

Eli Hartley, Buford’s scrappy 106-pound state champ won his match against Blessed Trinity’s Noah Kile with a last second takedown – winning 4-3. While Darius Bunch, champ at 120 pounds controlled his match against fellow northeast Georgia wrestler – North Hall’s Caleb Hamilton – from start to finish, winning 8-3.

Jack Barber and teammate Brayden Hartley made it three Buford champions in a row early in the finals round after Barber won by pin and Hartley won 7-2. Even in the sweltering and taut atmosphere on display Saturday, the Wolves remained calm in the midst of battle -- something that coach Rob Carlyle said was by design.

“Just putting in the work, working year round, traveling to places where the competition is of state championship quality every time (makes the difference),” Carlyle said.

Once championships were earned, however, the calm melted away on the mat as well, as Wolves wrestlers celebrated fiercely, including Guillen, who knocked over a coach and flattened a chair in the process of his joy.

“Today is the happiest day of my life,” Guillen said.

The same could be probably said for a number of area teams and wrestlers on Saturday -- including repeat winners Jefferson and Commerce.

Jefferson wrestling captured its 14th straight traditional title in familiar fashion, dominating Class AA with six first place finishes and two runner-up spots in Lyons.

The Dragons’ Tyler Marinelli (138) concluded an injury-plagued season in style, clinching his third straight state championship via a 7-2 decision over Bremen’s Brock Cooper. Bremen stayed within sight of Jefferson, finishing second in Class AA, 193-156, but the Dragons were not to be denied.

Price Joiner (106), Chase Piperato (126), Jack Dollar (145), Caleb Little (160) and Michael Paolozzi (220) also made their way to the top of the medal podium on Saturday, while Tanner Thurmond (132) and Zach Boobas (152) each finished second.

There were no doubts in Class A -- thanks to a Commerce team that blistered the field with five titles and three runner-up finishes.

The Tigers finished almost 100 points better than runner-up Gordon Lee and McClure’s 220-pound success provided an emphatic explanation point to the day.

Dalton Flint (106), Austin Brock (120), Trent Reddish (160) and Greyson Cochran (170) also got to grips with individual championships on Saturday, while Mitchell Patton (113), Jake Tate (145) and Morgan Flint (195) each finished as runners-up. In fact 12 of the 13 Tigers to compete on Saturday claimed top five spots.

In all, Buford, Commerce and Jefferson wrestlers combined to claim 17 of the 19 individual titles won by northeast Georgia grapplers on Saturday.

Banks County’s Chris McCrackin (113) and Dawson County’s Gavin Brown (182) also notched championships, including a thrilling finish for Brown, who edged out Banks County’s Phillip Dean at the death, completing a reversal as time expired to complete a comeback win.

Wrestlers sorted by class, school

Flowery Branch
113 – Ronald Link, fourth
152 – Zach Winter, fourth
182 – Jackie Simonds, fourth

138 – Rodney Timmons, fifth

Lumpkin County
113 – Tristan Duckworth, fifth
132 – Greg Hilliard, fourth
145 – Daniel Locklear, fourth

Banks County
113 – Chris McCrackin, first
120 – Dylan Suttles, third
138 – Tony Fultz, third
182 – Phillip Dean, second
220 – Matt Dillbeck, second

106 – Eli Hartley, first
120 – Darius Bunch, first
126 – Jack Barber, first
132 – Brayden Hartley, first
138 – Trent Ferguson, fifth
145 – Rudy Guillen, first
195 – Chip Ness, first
220 – Justin Loredo, fourth

Dawson County
182 – Gavin Brown, first

East Hall
126 – Will Davidson, fifth
152 – Edward Vergara, third
182 -- Tyler Thomas, third
285 – JD Holloway, fifth

Jackson County
170 – Chuckie Allen, fourth

North Hall
113 – Tyler Marrett, third
120 – Caleb Hamilton, second
132 – Michael Carew, second
138 – David Lush, fourth
145 – Matthew Scavuzzo, fifth
195 – Darrien Ingram, fifth

West Hall
152 – Elliott Raiford, second

113 – Price Joiner, first
126 – Chase Piperato, first
132 – Tanner Thurmond, second
138 – Tyler Marinelli, first
145 – Jack Dollar, first
152 – Zach Boobas, second
160 – Caleb Little, first
170 – Zach Rhymer, third
195 – Deshon Lester, fourth
220 – Michael Paolozzi, first

Rabun County
160 – Drew Backer, third
220 – Peyton Backer, third

106 – Dalton Flint, first
113 – Mitchell Patton, second
120 – Austin Brock, first
132 – Michael Patton, third
138 – Cole Chancey, fourth
145 – Jake Tate, second
152 – Tyreke Wiggins, third
160 – Trent Reddish, first
170 – Greyson Cochran, first
182 – Dontavious Mosley, fifth
195 – Morgan Flint, second
220 – Chance McClure, first

Towns County
126 – Aaron Collier, fourth
138 – Vonya Baldwin, fifth
170 – Daulton Rigers, third
Associated Categories: Homepage, Sports News, High School Sports

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