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Five SEHS seniors who provided moments to remember

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald


GUYTON – It was their last year, a last chance to leave a lasting impression. And a special group of South Effingham High School senior athletes did just that – providing moments that we’ll remember for years to come.

They set standards for future Mustangs to measure themselves against.

Here are five SEHS seniors who gave us so much to cheer about during the 2023-24 school year.


Ashton Anderson
South Effingham wrestler Ashton Anderson won his second straight state championship in the 285-pound weight class in February. (File photo.)
Ashton Anderson – Anderson did it again – a second consecutive Class 6A heavyweight wrestling state championship.

No Mustang had ever accomplished the feat, but the personable 248-pounder – giving up 37 pounds in the 285-pound division – coupled his quickness with strength to win a gritty, double-overtime title match in Macon over an opponent who had beaten him at region.

Anderson, who also won the traditional championship as a junior, finished his senior year with a 59-5 record. He was also part of SEHS’ two-time dual (team) state championships.

Anderson, who played on the offensive line on the football team (a squad that posted its first winning season since 2019), signed to wrestle with Newberry College.


Eli Wood – Wood’s solid high school wrestling career soared a notch higher when he captured a 2-1 win in the Class 6A state championship in the 138-pound weight class as a senior.

In the finals, Wood defeated his Glynn Academy nemesis, who had won three head-to-head meetings including one at the state dual championships and another at the region traditional championships.

A four-year member of the Mustangs, Wood (57-7) was named a “Black Shirt” captain – symbolic of extraordinary leadership – by Coach Christopher Bringer at the start of the season.

Wood compiled a 109-17 record with two dual state championships during his final two seasons, but had never won a traditional postseason title until winning Sectionals as a senior.

Bailey Kendziorski
Pitcher Bailey Kendziorski led South Effingham's softball team to a record-setting season in 2023. (File photo.)
Bailey Kendziorski – What could be more fitting than another banner year for the right-handed softball pitcher, who at times finessed, other times challenged, opposing batters into submission.

The Region 2-6A Pitcher of the Year led SEHS to a school-record 31 wins in 2023 and was a mainstay for a group of seniors who amassed a four-year record of 108-24-1.

She notched key pitching wins against Grovetown and rival Effingham County en route to the Mustangs’ third region title in four years.

In the Elite Eight at Columbus, the Boston College signee baffled defending champion Pope with a complete-game shutout in the opener and, later in the tourney, held off Effingham County 2-1 in 10 innings in an elimination game.

Elena Hairston – The lone senior on the Mustang girls’ basketball team was asked to do it all – score, rebound, handle the ball and defend the opposing team’s best guard.

Apparently, Region 2-6A coaches thought Hairston did a pretty good job and named her the region’s player of the year after she averaged 15 points, 7 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.9 steals.

The 5-foot-7 point guard’s biggest game was a 29-point effort against Grovetown in the region tournament quarterfinals to assure SEHS would advance to the Class 6A state tournament.

Hairston, who signed with Daytona State College, finished her prep career with more than 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists.

Edson Escobar – Escobar dominated while playing soccer in his final year of high school after training with the highly regarded Tormenta Football Club.

Elite in dribbling, passing and shooting, Escobar was involved in 32 of the team’s 66 goals – scoring a team-best 15 goals and assisting on 17 others – while helping the Mustangs to a school-record 15 wins (a 15-3-1 record) and the second round of the Class 6A state championships.

Escobar fell just one vote short of being named the Region 2-6A Player of the Year. He earned first-team, all-region in a voting of the region coaches.