By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON — South Effingham coach Christopher Bringer remembers when times weren’t as good for the Mustangs wrestling program.
“Just last year, I think Richmond Hill was beating us by 40 or 50 points. Last year, their JV team came here and almost beat us,” he said.
This year, SEHS made a quick reversal of that narrative. The Mustangs have been on an even course with the highly regarded Wildcats. And both went 10-0 during the two-day, round-robin Turkey Duals on Nov. 23-24 hosted by SEHS.
SEHS raised its record to a gaudy 19-1 with just a three-point loss to Richmond Hill at the season-opening Swamp Duals at Ware County.
A week later, the Mustangs evened the score with Richmond Hill with a three-point win at Effingham County’s Blue Line Duals.
“I was telling the kids, probably two years ago, we were 1-19 at this point so it’s cool to get off to a start like this,” Bringer said. “We’ve come a long way and a lot of that is we had a great offseason. We have great leadership on the team. But the thing is, it’s early. We have to make sure we stay hungry and stay humble and make sure we peak in January (at state).”
On Day 1 of the Turkey Duals, SEHS defeated Charlton County (61-15), Bluffton (76-6), Effingham County (60-12), Yulee, Fla. (66-15) and Bryan County (75-6).
The next day, the Mustangs topped Screven County (69-12), Bluffton (84-0), Islands (68-12), Vidalia (58-14) and Benedictine (72-0).
Effingham County coach Nico Guggino has seen steady improvement from his team as well. The Rebels lost to Richmond Hill (52-24), Charlton County (36-33) and South before finishing with win over Bryan County (66-18) and Bluffton (57-18).
On Day 2, the Rebels beat Benedictine (51-30), lost to Yulee (42-36) and Vidalia (40-30), then defeated Bluffton (66-12) and Bryan County (66-18) to go 5-5 in the tournament.
“What I like is that the kids are having fun,” Guggino said. “The kids are coachable and they’re learning from their mistakes, that’s the big thing. If you lose, instead of pouting about it, they’re figuring it out and not letting it happen again.”
Guggino’s veterans — Mal Santiago at 113, Conner Nevin at 126 and Nigel Wright at 195 — all wrestled well. Santiago won all 10 matches and Wright was 9-1 with nine pins.
Nevin was 8-2 bouncing between 126 and 132. Last season, he placed third at state in traditional wrestling at 113.
For South, the lighter weights, led by 106-pound freshman Emilio Santana, have come up big. Santana raised his record to 18-0 with nine wins at the Turkey Duals. His brother Enrique is 19-1 at 160.
Jacob Galindez (126), Ashton Anderson (heavyweight), Brandon “Moose” Bringer (132), Anton Blanchard (138) and Jaylen Hosking (145) all were a perfect 5-0 on Day 2 for the Mustangs.
Galindez notched his 100th career win on Day 1 against Charlton County. Later in the day, his brother David picked up his first win against Bryan County.