The 17-year-old, who went undefeated on the season (42-0), won first place in the 285 weight class in Class AAAA at the 2012 Georgia state wrestling championship at the Gwinnett Convention Center. Gabriel took a point lead in the first round of his match against James Ellison of Harris County and held on for a 2-1 decision to win the gold medal.
Gabriel, who finished second in last year’s State wrestling championship, said it was great to return and place first.
“It felt like all of my hard work paid off,” he said.
During his two-year wrestling career, he compiled a record of 82 wins with 2 losses.
As a junior, he finished with a 40-2 record while winning the County’s wrestling championship, Region 6-AAAA wrestling championship and finished second in the State wrestling championship. Last year, he also placed ninth in the nation in the All-American wrestling tournament held in Hampton, VA.
Gabriel said it wasn’t easy going undefeated in his weight class this year.
“It was hard because people knew my wrestling style and I had a lot of competitors who were ready to compete against me,” he said.
Gabriel said he made some changes to improve his skills after he placed second in the state championship last year.
“I changed my work ethics in my moves and my techniques that elevated my game,” he said. “I also started eating right and just got the desire to win first place.”
Gabriel also plays football and is a member of the track and field team. He said football helps him with his wrestling skills, and vice versa.
“Football helps me with my balance in wrestling and it also helped me get low,” he said.
Gabriel received a full athletic scholarship to play football at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA. He has a 3.0 GPA and will major in engineering.