By: Don Heath/Effingham Herald
SPRINGFIELD – The loudest cheers from South Effingham’s wrestling team came after one of its participant’s rare losses at the Blue Line Duals on Saturday.
A Mustang freshman 175-pounder survived a first-round near pin, then fell behind by 13 points – just two points away from a technical fall.
But the wrestler, bloodied from a bit lip, held on. Despite his lopsided defeat, he saved South three team points by not getting pinned.
Saving points may have seemed irrelevant in Mustangs’ overall 59-8 win over Richmond Hill, but the sacrifice for the team wasn’t lost on SEHS coach Christopher Bringer.
“This is how we can win another state championship,” Bringer said. “There will be times when you feel overmatched, maybe you can’t win, but just fight. We can’t be pinned. I was proud of him. I think that showed the spirit of team we have.”
The Mustangs’ talent and championship DNA were also on display at the 10-team tournament hosted by Effingham County High School.
South, the defending Class 6A dual wrestling state champion, defeated Effingham County (75-6), Vidalia (72-4), Ware County (65-12), Greenbrier (77-6) and Richmond Hill to improve to 11-0.
It’s been a team effort. Alarik Gibson, Daniel Galindez, Emilio Santana, Jacob Stellhorn, Eli Wood, Bear Bringer, Gannon White, Moose Bringer, DaMyon McFarlin and Ashton Anderson have all posted undefeated individual records.
After winning just one match last season, senior Jayven Yilales has a 10-1 record,
Moose Bringer, who wrestled at 132 last season, moved up to 165 and seems to be having little problem at the heavier weight after registering a second-round pin of Vidalia’s Gabriel Hightower (the Class 2A state runnerup last season).
Bringer topped Class 3A’s state champion Oconee County’s Nathan Bowen 12-4 at the Harlem Kick Off two weeks ago.
Anderson, a state champion at 285, had his back to the mat for a split second before rallying to beat Ware County’s Jabare George 10-3 in one of the most exciting matches at the Blue Line Duals. George was fourth at state at 215 last year.
Bear Bringer was SEWrestle’s Hammer of the Week last week.
“We have a talented group and our No. 1 goal is win a state title and we talk about it all the time,” Coach Bringer said. “We have the ability.”
Effingham County’s first-year coach Isiah Royal gave credit to his wrestlers’ parents for helping to organize the annual 10-team competition.
“It wouldn’t have happened without the parents. We have a good support system here,” said Royal, who knows about the support here first-hand after winning three state championships as a Rebel wrestler.
On the mats, Royal’s inexperienced squad struggled but topped Vidalia.
Royal said his wrestlers are showing improvement after many had an extended football season. ECHS football won a region title and advanced to state before falling to Lovejoy.
“We have a young group and we’re trying to get them to trust the process, trust their training, be consistent, but most importantly, believe in themselves,” Royal said. “I feel like if they can do those things, they can do anything they want to.”
Both SEHS and ECHS will be back in action Nov. 21-22 at the Turkey Duals, hosted by South Effingham.
Bringer said 10 teams will be competing each day, including Creekview, a squad the Mustangs beat 44-18 in the state semifinals last season.