By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD -- The championship at the Blue Line Duals Saturday afternoon came down to the final wrestling match, but the moment wasn’t too big for South Effingham’s 132-pound freshman nicknamed “Moose.”
Brandon “Moose” Bringer, coach Christopher Bringer’s son, broke the deadlock with a 4-0 decision over Richmond Hill’s Roman Slaughter to begin a wild celebration, beating the Wildcats 36-33 and capturing the eight-team tournament at Effingham County’s wrestling gym.
“My parents and my friends were here and we never beat Richmond Hill before so it’s a happy time for all of us,” the younger Bringer said.
A week earlier, SEHS lost to the Wildcats 37-34 to place second at the Swamp Duals hosted by Ware County.
This time, the Mustangs (9-1) were perfect in team competition -- defeating Ware (63-15), Effingham County (57-19), Alexander (40-34) and Vidalia (63-18) before topping a squad that advanced to the Elite Eight at state last season.
“Moose is probably one of the most experienced guys on the team even though he’s a ninth grader,” coach Bringer said. “He likes those situations, even as a 14 year old. I thought we were in good hands with him in the final match.”
Moose Bringer said he got his nickname as a baby.
“I was told as a baby I was 10 or 11 pounds so the name just stuck,” he said.
But growing heavyweights didn’t have to worry. Moose became the problem of the lighter weight classes. In middle school, he won a state AAU championship at 105.
At the Swamp Duals, Moose beat Slaughter 9-0. This time it was tied 0-0 after the first period. Bringer scored a reversal and continued to dominate from the top for all the scoring in the second period.
Despite the rivalry with a cross-county foe, Effingham County High School coach Nico Guggino said he was pulling for Moose.
“Moose is one of those kids you’ll never root against even if he has “South” across the chest,” Guggino said. “I’m not going to hold that against him. He’s a great kid. He’s special.”
While Moose produced the decisive points, coach Bringer looked at another match that gave the Mustangs key points. Jaylen Hosking rallied for a 12-7 decision win at 152. A week earlier against the Wildcats, Hosking was pinned at 145 and SEHS lost a decision at 152.
“I told the kids we’re going to wrestle them four or five more times and we have to keep getting better,” coach Bringer said. “We have to be hungry and stay hungry. We still have a lot of improving to do.”
Guggino was pleased with his Rebels effort after winning three of five matches. Conner Nevin, who placed third at state last season, and Mal Santiago returned to action after appealing their weights. ECHS also had some football players back.
The Rebels defeated Vidalia (41-28), Hilton Head (52-22) and Benedictine, but lost to Alexander and South.
“I think we’re definitely getting better,” Guggino said. “Getting some of these guys back from football and some of them who were appealing their weight classes have made a difference in practice. What I’m really excited about is our better kids are beating other people’s better kids.”
SEHS and ECHS wrestling teams will be back in action at the Turkey Duals, hosted by the Mustangs. The two-day tournament is set Tuesday and Wednesday.