Matchups a key focus for region and area wrestling duals

Collins Hill’s Lucas DeSilva, right, works against Brookwood’s David Hornsby in the 160-pound finals of Saturday’s Gwinnett County Championships at Mountain View. (Staff Photo: Will Hammock)

With this year’s region and state duals set for Saturday at various sites, Gwinnett County’s coaches will be keeping a close eye on matchups both individually and team-wise.

“That (process) started a lot (earlier) than this week,” said first-year Collins Hill coach Nate Ethridge, whose team is fresh off its first Gwinnett County championship since 2008. “The way I look at (region duals) is, ‘How would I attack us? How would I try to beat us? But the bottom line is, you’ve got to win (individual) matches. Sometimes as coaches, we overthink it.”

There could be quite a bit for the Eagles to think about as they coming into Saturday’s Region 6-AAAAAAA meet at Peachtree Ridge, where they and the rest of the region will try to unseat four-time defending region champion Mountain View.

While Ethridge acknowledges that his team will have to focus before a possible matchup with the Bears in the championship finals, he also knows that a little extra incentive sometimes doesn’t hurt.

“A little rivalry is good for wrestling,” Ethridge said. “For us, until we beat (Mountain View), I still feel like we’re an underdog. Are we a different team (from last year)? Absolutely. Do our kids believe in themselves? Absolutely. But I feel like we have to come in and compete as hard as we can. We’ll be ready. We’ll be fired up.”

Georgia’s system for the dual-meet portion of the wrestling season also poses a bit of a different matchup adjustment for Ethridge, who experienced a different postseason format while rolling up more than 500 dual wins over 18 seasons coaching in Michigan before coming to Collins Hill over the summer.

“It’s a little different,” Ethridge said. “We used to complete (in district duals) over two nights on Wednesday and Saturday. And we had district and regional duals before state duals. So only eight teams went to state instead of 16. So the approach is a bit different. It’s only one day, so you weigh in only one time, though it’s every similar in other ways. And with two teams (from each region or area) going to state, it takes a little pressure off.”

The battle for those two state berths should be hotly contested in several of the regions or areas involving Gwinnett teams.

Archer, for example, will attempt to regain the Region 8-AAAAAAA crown after having its long title streak snapped last year by Rockdale County.

Brookwood looks to defend its title and fend off challengers like Meadowcreek and Parkview in Region 7-AAAAAAA, while Buford will try to keep its duals championship streak running in Region 8-AAAAA and Wesleyan figures to be a top contender in the Area 5-A duals.

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Graduated from GSU in 1990. Have worked in sports journalism for the past 28 years, covering a variety of sports at the Gwinnett Daily News, AJC, Lafayette (La.) Daily Advertiser and Marietta Daily Journal before returning to Gwinnett at the Post in 2007.

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