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Mustangs, Rebels net eight region titles in wrestling
Ashton Anderson
South Effingham's 285-pounder Ashton Anderson (in white), shown here wrestling against Richmond Hill earlier in the season, was one of five Mustangs winning a region title last Friday at the Region 2-AAAAAA Traditional Wrestling Championships in Brunswick. SUBMITTED - photo by Photo submitted

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

South Effingham wrestling coach Christopher Bringer says eight champions from the county at the Region 2-AAAAAA Traditional Wrestling Tournament in Brunswick last Friday should tell you something.

“That’s awesome for our county. I really think we’re a wrestling county,” Bringer said.

South had five champions — Jacob Galindez (113), Anton Blanchard (126), Enrique Santana (152), Ashton Tootle (160) and Ashton Anderson (285) — and Effingham County added three — Mal Santiago (106), Conner Nevin (120) and Nigel Wright (195) — in the 14 weight classes.

The top four finishers in each weight class at region moved on to Sectionals, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Brunswick.

The top six at Sectionals will advance to state. The Class AAAAAA portion of the tournament will be held at the Macon Centreplex on Feb. 10-11.

Galindez and Anderson took big steps this season after finishing second at region last year. Anderson defeated a Brunswick wrestler who had beaten him at the region duals earlier in the season.

Blanchard punctuated his title with a pin of Richmond Hill’s Colin Dragon, who advanced to the finals at 106 last season.

Santana and Tootle continued their stellar wrestling by sweeping their weight classes.

For ECHS, Santiago raised his record to 52-2 and should contend for titles at Sectionals and state. Nevin won his second region title. He was third at 113 at state last season.

Wright fought back from a No. 4 seeding to upset favored wrestlers.

"All three of those guys need to work on things but they're practicing as hard as anyone and they deserve the success they're getting," ECHS coach Nico Guggino said.

As a team, South will send 12 of its wrestlers to Sectionals. The team scored 205 points and placed second to Brunswick by a point.

Brunswick also won the region dual title by holding off the Mustangs in the finals.

“Everybody was quiet on the bus going home because we expect so much from our program. You can’t be satisfied with second place,” said Bringer about falling short for the traditional team title.

But finishing first, second, third or fourth was a cause to be happy because those wrestlers would be advancing.

For South, Jacob Stellhorn (106), Brandon “Moose” Bringer (132), Jaylen Hosking (145) placed second and Stephen Tootle (120), Nicholas Sessions (138), William Christmas (170) and Gavin Anderson (182) finished third to advance.

For ECHS, Landon Harper (126) placed third and Jared LaFontaine (152) and Anderson Scarborough (285) finished fourth to advance.

The Rebels, who will send seven wrestlers to Sectionals, scored 123 team points and placed fifth.

ECHS’ Mia Bernacki will be in action this week in the girls’ 197-pound weight class.

They’ll all be in a competitive Sectional with wrestlers from Regions 2, 4, 5 and 7. Five teams from those regions won their prelim brackets in state dual competition.