By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
GUYTON – South Effingham put wrestling in the spotlight Nov. 9 with its Cardinal and Silver Night.
The Mustangs rolled out their mats in the gym to feature 15 matches – nine intrasquad varsity showdowns along with three middle school matches and three youth matches – for a preseason exhibition.
SEHS unveiled banners for its three state champions – Robbie Collum in 2009, Austin Blaske in 2020 and Jacob Galindez in 2022.
Galindez, now a student at Georgia Southern, was presented his championship ring for topping the 113-pound weight division in Class AAAAAA.
“The intent is just to celebrate wrestling in general,” SEHS coach Christopher Bringer said. “We want to bring our youth kids, middle school kids and high school kids all in one place to really motivate the area about wrestling.”
Saturday, the area had another reason to be excited about wrestling. SEHS impressively won all five team matches to capture first place at the season-opening Swamp Duals at Ware County High School.
Wrestling comes to Effingham County High School this Saturday when the Rebels host the Blue Line Duals.
“We can have a great year if we remain healthy,” Bringer said. “We’re deep in the middle (weight classes) and we’re deep in heavy, but we’re not very deep in our lighter weights.”
Bringer said the Mustangs return 12 experienced wrestlers, including Stephen Stellhorn, Brandon “Moose” Bringer, and Enrique Santana, to compete in the 14 weight classes. Stellhorn advanced to the semifinals and Moose Bringer and Santana had fifth-place finishes at state during the traditional (individual) wrestling season.
ECHS’ Mal Santiago, Connor Nevin and Mia Bernacki will be local wrestlers to watch as well. Santiago advanced to the finals at 106 and Nevin placed fourth at 120. Bernacki fell one point short of winning a state championship in the girls competition.
Overall depth makes SEHS a state contender in dual competition. The Mustangs finished 35-3 as a team last season, getting eliminated in the second round of the state prelims by eventual champion Buford. The Mustangs fell to Brunswick in the region finals after edging nemesis Richmond Hill in the region semifinals.
SEHS started quickly this season with a 47-24 win over region foe Glynn Academy and 41-20 over Richmond Hill at Ware.
“We’ll get tested right away but I think we’ll be ready when it counts, which is in December and January,” Bringer said. “I’m excited about this year. I’m excited about the next 4-5 years. We have a lot of good eighth graders coming up.”
South will host its annual Turkey Duals on Nov. 22-23.
The region duals will be held at Glynn Academy on Jan. 7.