RINCON — The South Effingham wrestling team broke the school record by qualifying nine wrestlers to the traditional state tournament.
First-year Mustangs head coach Christopher Bringer has taken the program to a new level but credits his hard-working and athletic squad for working through several rounds of tough bouts during the past weekend. Jacob Galindez (106 lbs.), Stephen Tootle (113), Anton Blanchard (120), Adam Napier (138), Hunter Slater (160), Brayden Bell (170), Hunter Tindall (182), Malkolm Stephens, (195) and Austin Blaske (285) qualified for the state meet.
"It was a super exciting weekend, taking nine wrestlers to state out of one of the toughest sectionals in the state with No. 1 Woodland, Cartersville and No. 4 Ola in the tournament,” Bringer said. “This gives our kids a lot of confidence that they can do very well next week at state."
The tournament did present a few challenges as just one out of his 14 athletes made it to the finals, exposing a few little holes in their game that need to be patched.
"I am very proud of the entire team,” Bringer said. “We won a lot but we also lost some tough ones. The losses were important for us to see who we are and to see if we can come back from those losses and win, which we did. I am very proud of our team for coming back after setbacks."
Tindall had a day to remember, securing three pins on the way to a finals bout against the No. 1 wrestling in Class AAAAA. He dropped the last matech in 7-5 decision but Bringer believes the contest measured what Tindall can do against top competition and gives him a new level of self-assurance as to what it’s going to take to defeat the best guys on the mat.
"Hunter Tindall had a great tournament,” Bringer said.
As the Mustangs look ahead to the state tournament this weekend, Bringer likes the chances of each one of his wrestlers.
"Overall, my expectations are high for these nine wrestlers,” Bringer said. “I expect them all to place. They worked too hard to go there and be starstruck by the moment. Moments like this don't happen often and they need to seize the opportunity and make the best of it.
“Our experience going to team state this year gives us a lot of confidence that we should finish well as a team and as individuals."
For Effingham County, Mal Santiago (106, alternate), Conner Nevin (113), Corbitt Parish (120), Bryce Vanderhoek (126), Tyler Kesler (132), Hunter Holton (138), Nigel Wright (170, alternate) and Josh Kleckouskas (195) all qualified for the Class AAAAAA meet.