MACON — With two matches remaining in the Class AAAAAAA finals of the Georgia High School Association’s State Wrestling Duals Championships, Collins Hill had Camden County in a position it had rarely been in during their five-year reign as champions in two different classifications.
But trailing in the meet and with their grasp on the trophy slipping away, bonus-point wins from Omega Clark and Cody Herrin helped the Wildcats rescue themselves and rally for a 35-27 win in the meet to take their sixth straight state title Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.
Collins Hill, which defeated defeat Colquitt County (47-25), McEachern (48-19) and North Forsyth (42-23) over the previous two days to get to the finals, had a chance to break the Camden streak by taking a 27-25 lead late in Saturday’s meet, but the Eagles couldn’t quite finish.
Clark won a major decision at 182 pounds and Herrin scored a pin midway through the second period at 195 to put Camden County over the top and relegate Collins Hill to runner-up status for the second straight year.
“We took our swing, but we didn’t connect,” Collins Hill coach Nate Ethridge said. “It wasn’t because we didn’t try. It wasn’t because the kids didn’t compete. We just got beat. (Camden is) a good program. They do a good job.”
Collins Hill had to dig down deep early after getting only a 2-0 decision at 285 pounds from D.J. Morrison to fall into a 15-3 hole through the first five matches.
But Joey Felix outpointed Camden’s Kaleb Clark 9-4 in the 126-pound match to ignite a run of three straight wins for Collins Hill and establish some momentum.
Elijah Griffin rallied from a 4-1 deficit early in the second period, with a pair of takedowns included in a run of five unanswered points in a 6-4 decision at 132.
Clint Gilbert then pinned Camden’s Robert Henderson in 59 seconds in the 138 match to pull the Eagles even at 15-all.
Even when Charles Morton and Nathaniel Santos won the next two matches on a major decision and a pin respectively put Camden County back in front at 25-15, Collins Hill kept fighting back.
Like Griffin, Jordan St. Preuve had to overcome an early deficit in his match at 160, but he eventually wore down Cah’mari Johnson in the third period and scored a fall with 1:31 left in the match for the win and three bonus points.
Nationally ranked Lucas DeSilva followed by putting Joshua Morton on his back in 1:43 to give the Eagles back-to-back pins and vault them into their first lead of the meet with just two matches remaining.
But after hanging tough throughout the first two periods at 182, Richard Ransom couldn’t keep up with Omega Clark and fell in a 12-2 major decision that put Camden back in front, but only by a pair of points at 29-27.
That left result of the meet in the balance heading into the final match at 195 pounds, and Herrin was too much for Avant Jackson, with the senior finally getting the pin with 1:57 left in the second period to help the Wildcats hold off the Eagles, and hold onto the championship trophy.
“We just didn’t win (Saturday),” Ethridge said. “It doesn’t take anything away from our kids. We just didn’t win.”