Pope and Holy Innocents' win wrestling championships; Collins Hill's streak ends

Collins Hill High School had its streak of eight consecutive state championships in wrestling snapped at Saturday night’s Team Duals in Macon.

The dominating run by the Gwinnett County powerhouse in the state’s largest classification was ended by the narrowest of margins.

Camden County was declared the Class AAAAA state champions after edging out Collins Hill in a rare tiebreaker.  The two teams were knotted 27-27 after the completion of the matches, and the tiebreaker was matches won by pins, with Camden holding a 2-1 advantage.

It marked the first time that Collins Hill had lost a dual match to a Georgia team since the 2008 season. Collins Hill had won the last four state titles in both the Team Duals and Traditional state tournament.

“We’re disappointed, especially when you’re used to winning, and especially when it was a state championship match and so close,” Collins Hill coach Josh Stephen said. “It was like pretty much the whole state wanted to see us lose. I guess we kind of gave everybody what they wanted.

“But all we can do is give it our best, which I thought the kids did. We’ve got to learn from this experience and build from it. We’ve got to focus on the Traditionals next month. We’ve still got a chance to win a state championship this year, and we’re going to work hard toward that. Hopefully, we can get a little revenge on Camden there.”

Saturday’s other state champions were Pope in Class AAAA, Gilmer in Class AAA, Jefferson in Class AA, and Holy Innocents’ in Class A. Saturday’s Team Duals were the first of wrestling’s two state championships this year, with the Traditionals to be held next month.

Pope won its first state championship in the Team Duals after finishing second or third in each of the last four years. The Greyhounds won last year’s Traditionals. “Yeah baby, we won that state tournament and it was awesome,” Pope coach Jim Haskin said. “We were knocking at the door for so many years and finally got it.”

The Cobb County school had a dominating performance in the finals, defeating Woodland 56-10. “Our kids were as fired up as I’ve ever seen them,” Haskin said. “They wrestled out of their minds.”

In Class A, Holy Innocents’ pulled out a slim 31-29 win over Gorden Lee to capture its first overall state championship in wrestling.

“When I interviewed for this job years ago, I said that in five years I'd help bring this school a state title” Holy Innocent’s coach Jeff Walrich said. “Here it is, my fifth year, and it happened. I'm so proud of the coaching staff, the families, the fans. We try to make great wrestlers out of these kids but, at the same time, we try to make them into great young men.”