Published Friday, January 04, 2013

Despite challenge, Vikings enter area duals full of optimism

By DOUG GORMAN

dgorman@newnan.com

The Northgate wrestling team knows its faces a monumental task at this weekend’s Area 4-AAAAA duals at Forest Park High School.

For the Vikings to emerge as one of top two teams and advance to the state duals in Macon next week, they will have to open against Ola, and then knock off Starr’s Mill.

Both are among the top Class AAAAAA wrestling programs in the state.

Veteran Northgate coach Adrian Anderson has some clear-cut strategy for the Vikings to stay in the winner’s bracket at the tournament.

“We are going to try in every match to find seven places where we can get six points,” Anderson said. “If we can do that, we feel like we can put ourselves in position to do well.”

Northgate’s senior wrestler Tyler Askey is the cornerstone of the Vikings’ team.

Askey has never lost a high school match and is trying to become a rare four-time state champion.

Last week at the Christmas Classic, a long-standing tradition at Fayette County High School, Askey became just the second wrestler to win four championships at the annual holiday tournament.

“Winning a tournament four times is just not done,” Anderson said. “He has always had to wrestle somebody pretty good in the finals, so it really is a pretty amazing feat.”

This year, Askey took the title in the 170-pound division.

Askey beat Starr’s Mill standout Luke Runyan in the finals.

The two wrestlers have a dramatic history with Askey beating the Panther at the Gwinnett Arena last year to record his third-state title.

They could be on track to meet again this year in the Class AAAAA finals.

The Vikings also got a strong showing out of Tristan Parker (152), who took fifth and Michael Garris (106) who took third at the holiday tournament.

They will be among the wrestlers Anderson counts on to do well at area duals.

Kyle Black (195) also had a big victory in the holiday tournament.

Ethan Bellora (126) enters the area duals after being the victim of some hard luck at last weeks Christmas Classic.

Bellora had a tough bracket at last weekend’s event, with two of his losses coming against the eventual champion and the third-place finisher.

Conner Lawson (132) comes into the duals fresh off his strong showing at the Christmas Classic.

“It’s been a while since we wrestled like that in this tournament,” said Anderson. “I think the last time was in 2010 when we finished in the top 10.”

“We finished in the top half of the tournament, and that was sort of our goal going in,” Anderson said.

Anderson admits the Christmas Classic is always a great measuring stick for the final month of the season.

“We have always said placing at the Christmas Classic is always the first step toward placing at state, it’s that tough, and brings in good teams from all over. I would put in the top five of tournaments in the state.”

Every Viking wrestler won at least once at the tournament, and many came back for the second day of the tournament.

After this weekend’s area, sectionals and state duals are over, there is still another month of wrestling left in the season.

That gives the Vikings plenty of time turn their focus to traditional area and state competition.

“We are trying to get guys ready individually,” he said. “State’s about being right at the right time.”

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