The Banks County High School Leopard wrestling team is on top of the world this week after capturing the 7-AAA Area Championship for the first time ever in the history of Banks County's wrestling program.
Dylan Suttles held on in the last match against Oconee County to put the Leopards in the Championship spot.
The team had suffered its first loss of the season only last week against Pope High School, ranked 18th in the nation. But, the team came back to beat Buford 54-24, Roswell 36-27, Flowery Branch 45-24 and Etowah 57-18 to capture the silver bracket at the Kyle Maynard Duals at Collins Hill High School.
BCHS got a bye in the first round of the Area Duals in Oconee and took on Elbert County in round two. Josh Bello won by minor decision, Matt Dilbeck won by minor decision, Jared Free took his match into overtime and came out the victor.
Chris McCrackin got the first pin of the match, Dylan Suttles followed up with a pin making the score 18-5. Taylor Wood picked up a win by pin, Mason Patton pinned his opponent in the first period for a win, Francisco Hurtado wins by pin in the second period, Tony Fultz had the quickest match against Elbert pinning his opponent in the first 30 seconds of the match.
Dylan Gouine pinned for the win, Cody Beezley took his match 4-2 at the end of the third period. Wes Faulkner won by default, Hayden Dilbeck won the match 4-2 at the end of the third period and Eli Smallwood finishes the match with a pin for the 66-5 victory in round two.
BCHS took on Jackson County in the third round Saturday morning, winning easily 57-9 over the Panthers. Now ready for the final match of the day the Leopards would face a well known opponent in Oconee County.
"And it was a nail biter,” head coach Kasey Hanley said. “We had beaten Oconee twice before, but both matches were close. It came down to the last seconds of the last match."
The match started at 120, Taylor Wood won by a major decision. At 126, Mason Patton won by pin. At 132, Francisco Hurtado, got caught in a cradle and was pinned on the edge of the mat, at 138, Tony Fultz got pinned by the state runner-up, the score at this point was 12-9 in Oconee's favor.
At 145, Cody Beezley was beaten by a major decision, at 152, Tristan Guthrie won by minor decision, at 160 Wes Faulkner wins by pin, at 170, Hayden Dilbeck loses by minor decision. The score at this point was 19-18, Oconee.
At 182, Eli Smallwood won by pin. Freshman, Josh Bello stepped up big, BCHS needed him to hold on and not get pinned and that's just what he did! Matt Dilbeck won by pin. Freshman, Chris McCrackin won by a major decision. Making the match 34-29 with Banks County winning with only one match left. At 113, Dylan Suttles just had to not get pinned or teched for the Leopards to win.
Suttles was wrestling the state runner-up from last year. Suttles was on his back, fighting for his life with seconds left, as time expired and everyone in the gym screaming, The clock stops and match is over, Suttles didn't get pinned and the Leopards beat Oconee 34-33 and win the first ever area championship in Banks County High School Wrestling history.
The BCHS Leopards will go into the state tournament elite 8 as the number two seed and will face Pierce County in the first round at Macon for the state duals. The Leopards will be at home on January 15 for a match against Lumpkin County.