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SEHS wrestling rings in the bling
Mustang wrestlers win second consecutive state championship
SEHS Rings 2024

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald


GUYTON – It’s never too late to teach and demand undivided attention.

South Effingham wrestling coach Christopher Bringer stepped to the podium at school Wednesday evening June 12 and immediately asked his wrestlers to take their cell phones off their tables.

The next few hours were going to be more important than anything a phone could dial up.

DaMyon McFarlin
DaMyon McFarlin was one of the Black Shirt captains, symbolic of above-and-beyond leadership. (Photos by Birk Herrath/Effingham Herald.)
Decked in ties with their Sunday best, the Mustangs received their state championship rings in a ceremony that gave thanks to a season of accomplishment and provided a poignant peek at the future.

Can SEHS keep success flowing like river rapids?

“I’m all about winning three, four, five (state championships) because winning is too fun,” Bringer said.

South won a team title two seasons ago and doubled down to capture a second title with a 37-0 record this season.

Individually, Ashton Anderson repeated as the 285-pound weight class champ and Eli Wood wore the crown at 138.

Six Mustangs wrestled for individual titles. Advancement gave South enough team points for a traditional state championship as well.

“Thank you, guys for putting South Effingham on the map,” school principal Dr. Torian White said. “You have shouted our name across the state.”

Seniors Wood and DaMyon McFarlin – Black Shirt captains, symbolic of above-and-beyond leadership – and Anderson spoke about trusting the process.

Gannon White, who will attend Norwich University in the fall for wrestling, referenced Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu’s “Every battle is won before it’s fought” and the seven Army core values – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage – that the Mustangs embraced from Coach Bringer, an Army veteran.

“The key is to train like you’ve never won and wrestle like you’ve never lost,” White explained, maybe to the 19 incoming freshmen who will be entrusted with the team’s future.

As part of the ceremony, Bringer had the incoming freshmen sign “commitment pledges.”

Brayden “Bear” Bringer and Zach Utnehmer were named Black Shirt captains for the upcoming season, joining Brandon “Moose” Bringer.

It’s been a 2023-24 school year to remember for SEHS wrestlers. They were honored at the state capitol. They were named “Team of the Year” at the recent Coastal Empire High School Sport Awards banquet.

Wrestling team and coaches
Bringer was the area’s Wrestling Coach of the Year and he quickly added he couldn’t have done it without his assistants Chris Hobbs and Ben Kneus. Or his wife, Analyn.

Wood never wrestled before joining South’s program as a freshman. Four years later, he was a state champion. Four years later, he was proud to be part of a brotherhood. Four years later, he was a better person.

“Don’t quit, even when you cross the finish line,” Wood said. “Keep running toward your next goal.”

Coaches, wrestlers and team managers lined up to receive their rings from athletic director Justin Merritt and Dr. White.

Bringer had some advice to keep the line moving swiftly. It was another teaching moment.

“Shake with your right hand, grab with your left,” he said.