DULUTH — The South Effingham wrestling team capped a long day in record style for the Mustangs program Saturday night.
Two Mustangs took home third-place finishes in their weight classes as seven Mustangs took home medals and the team finished fourth in Class AAA at the state traditionals tournament at the Gwinnett Center.
Jason Screen (135 pounds) and Robbie Collum (145) each finished third while Josh Jameson (125) and Adam Morse (189) took home fourth-place medals. Alex Wendell (119) was fifth and Zac Nelson (160) and Chad Tucker (140) had sixth-place finishes.
“I’m proud of them,” Mustangs coach Tom Onorato said.
Screen celebrated his win in the consolation bracket finals, a 4-1 decision over Blessed Trinity’s Shane Fadem, with a leap into Onorato’s arms. Screen won four consolation matches, beginning with a pin of Burke County’s Marcus Stephens. He followed with an 11-3 win over Benedictine’s Bret McKinnon and then beat Tyler Everton of West Forsyth 6-4.
Screen started the tournament with pins of Apalachee’s Ryan Fowler and Fadem before losing to LaGrange’s Justin Gilbert 15-9.
“He had a great tournament,” Onorato said of Screen. “He had a tough match against the kid from LaGrange. He just made up his mind what he wanted to do. He wrestled to place. It’s a testament to him and to how much he loves this sport and how much this tournament meant to him. It says a lot about his character. I’m extremely excited for him.”
Said Screen: “It’s been an awesome experience for me. I wouldn’t want to go out any other way.”
Collum had the hardest road possible to get to the consolation final. A favorite for the championship final, Collum was knocked out of the winners bracket in the first round in a 3-2 loss to Jesse Figueroa of West Laurens.
He won his next seven matches, four of them on the final day, for his third-place finish. He beat James Gray of West Hall (12-2), John Phifer (7-1), Victor McKoon of Chamblee (4-1), William Murray of Cartersville (15-0), Dustin Massey of Elbert County (15-4), James Hembree of Troup County (9-3) and Brent Osborne of Blessed Trinity (7-3).
Onorato credited Collum for his determination and endurance on the final day of the event.
“In life, things don’t always go your way,” he said. “But that doesn’t stop you from continuing to work hard and trying to get better.”
Jameson won his first three matches before losing to state champ Joe DeNova of Columbus 4-0 in the semifinals. He beat Michael Parker of Blessed Trinity 6-5 in the wrestlebacks but lost in the third-place match to Justin Martin of Cass 12-3.
After winning his first match, a pin of Dougherty’s Ndidi Akuta, Morse had to fight his way through the consolation bracket following his pin at the hands of Ola’s Joey Carman. Morse pinned Joshua Randolph of West Laurens and Lee McMahan of Pickens County before scoring a 1-0 decision over Ivan Dowell of LaGrange. He pinned Riverwood’s Grayson Euler and exacted revenge on Carman with a pin. Brandon Roberts of Lumpkin County pinned Morse with 2 seconds left in the second period for third place.
Wendell lost to state champ Evan Warrington of Henry County in the second round. He reeled off pins of Burke County’s Allan Tootle and Julian Oliger of Chestatee in the consolation bracket and posted a 12-3 win over Oconee County’s Trey Tolbert. He had a 4-2 victory over Tevin Sanders of Shaw before dropping a 9-0 decision to Carlos Espinosa of Hardaway.
Tucker won his first two bouts before state champion Michael Fox of Gilmer stopped his run in the winners bracket with an 18-2 defeat. Tucker beat Anthony Matthews of Pickens 9-1 and Chris Burnett of Lumpkin 8-2 before Terry Orange of West Laurens beat him 4-1.
Nelson registered pinfall victories in his first two bouts before Stevie Timm of Cass beat him 15-9. He then topped Mark Parks of Oconee 4-1 and advanced in the consolation bracket with an injury default victory over Dustin Brunner of Pickens with 2 seconds left in the match. Nelson had scored to go ahead with less than 10 seconds remaining. He lost 6-2 to Bo Buehlerr of Columbus in the consolation semis and then fell 15-7 to Julian Holmes of Sandy Creek in the fifth-place match.
Brandon Huggins won his first match at 285 with a pin of Cody Smith of Apalachee but lost to Harris Howard of Blessed Trinity. He pinned John Napier of Chamblee and beat Taylor Hamilton of White County 4-0 before losing to Jordan Shepard of McNair 6-3.
Brad Boyd (130) went 2-2. Avery Bragg (171) and Matt Holt (215) lost both their matches in the tournament.
Onorato was happy to send out his four seniors — Screen, Morse, Tucker and Nelson —with medal-winning finishes.
“It was definitely rewarding watching all four seniors walk out with all-state honors,” he said. “That’s something nobody can ever take away from them. To watch them get on the podium is something special. It’s something I’ve been wanting for these kids for the last four years.”