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Mustangs finish second in region tourney
Anton Blanchard
South Effingham’s Anton Blanchard (138 pounds) controls a Brunswick opponent in Saturday’s Region 2-AAAAAA dual championship at Richmond Hill. - photo by Gilbert Miller

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

RICHMOND HILL — South Effingham’s biggest wrestling victory of the season Saturday, couldn’t lessen the pain of a defeat a few hours later.

The Mustangs went down to the final weight class before falling to defending champion Brunswick 33-25 for the Region 2-AAAAAA dual championship at Richmond Hill High School.

SEHS advanced to a four-team bracket at Buford High on Saturday. The bracket survivor advances to an eight-team tournament in Brunswick on Jan. 22 to determine a state champion.

Effingham County lost at region earlier in the day and failed to advance. The Rebels forfeited four weight classes and lost to Glynn Academy 42-33 in their key region showdown match, then lost to Richmond Hill 56-18 later in the afternoon.

Glynn took the region’s No. 4 seed, Richmond Hill finished third.

“It was frustrating and obviously we weren’t good enough to make up those points,” ECHS coach Nico Guggino said. “When someone doesn’t make weight, you have to make up those points somewhere else.”

South Effingham’s day ended on a frustrating note as well and coach Christopher Bringer didn’t want to give his assessment.

The Mustangs began the day with a wild 31-30 victory over Richmond Hill. The two teams split matches during the regular season with the clinching wins coming in the final weight classes.

This time, SEHS clinched on Jacob Galindez’s pin at 120, providing a decisive seven-point lead heading into the final match.

The Mustangs’ big swing came when Ashton Anderson won in overtime at 285. With the score tied at 2-2, Anderson survived a potential reversal just as time expired.

But once in overtime, Anderson scored a takedown and followed his advantage to a surprising pin, scoring a much-welcomed six points for the team.

SEHS couldn’t get any similar surprises against Brunswick, which built a 30-3 lead while dominating the higher weight classes.

But the Mustangs fought back. Jacob Stellhorn won a majority decision (12-2) at 106. Stephen Tootle registered a pin with less than 30 seconds left. Galindez and Anton Blanchard won decisions.

And when Brunswick forfeited to Brandon “Moose” Bringer at 132, SEHS closed within 30-25 with one match remaining, meaning a pin could win it.

But the Mustangs fell short when the Pirates finished with a decision victory at 138.

SEHS advanced, but ECHS wrestlers now focus on traditionals.

But maybe Guggino’s words summed up how both schools will approach the upcoming weeks.

“(Wrestling) still remains a team sport,” Guggino said. “We have to get each other better to