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South Effingham pins down back-to-back wrestling state titles
Fans cheer champion SEHS wrestling team
Parents and fans cheer, holding signs and throwing confetti as the bus carrying the wrestling champions arrives back to the SEHS campus. (Photo by Birk Herrath/Effingham Herald.)

By Donald Heath

Special for the Effingham Herald

GUYTON – South Effingham’s wrestling team brought home a second straight Class 6A State Dual Wrestling Championship, but nothing about the weekend was easy.

The Mustangs won the tiebreaker 4-3 over Glynn Academy after the title match ended in a 33-33 deadlock Saturday afternoon Jan. 20 at North Forsyth High School.

The next day, South’s wrestlers were stranded in Metter for hours after the team bus broke down.

Eventually, the championship trophy accompanied the 2023 trophy in Guyton.

“It was hairy OK,” said SEHS coach Christopher Bringer by phone before the bus trouble. “Obviously, winning a state championship is a great achievement. We were favored to repeat at the start of the year because of all the returnees we had. But then you have to go out and do it and that’s a little tougher.”

The Mustangs returned nine members from the 2023 championship team and polished off a perfect 2024 season with a 37-0 record in team competition.

They won the region title over Glynn 38-21 a week earlier and breezed through preliminary rounds at State beginning Friday with victories over Rockdale County (67-6) and Newnan (74-0). Saturday, South upended North Forsyth (48-13) to set up a rematch with the Red Terrors.

This time, Glynn reversed the outcome in several weight classes and after 14 individual matches the competition was tied. In accordance with GHSA rules, maximum point wins broke the tie. In this case, South had four six-point wins (by pin, forfeit, or disqualification) and Glynn had three six-point wins.

Brayden “Bear” Bringer, DaMyon McFarlin and Ashton Anderson had pins and Glynn forfeited the match against Brandon “Moose” Bringer for the four six-point wins.

Glynn had two pins and disqualification for its three six-point wins.

“It was a surreal night,” Bringer said. “We didn’t particularly wrestle very well. I thought we were tight, so I was a little taken back by our performance. Our standard has become so high.”

SEHS Wrestling team with championship trophy
SEHS Boys’ wrestling team holds their second state championship trophy. (Birk Herrath/Effingham Herald.)
Brayden “Bear” Bringer, the freshman son of Coach Bringer, came up big in the 132-pound weight class. Trailing 7-3 in the third period, Bear tied his match with a takedown in the final seconds of regulation and then registered another takedown that led to a pin 11 seconds into overtime for six dramatic team points.

Bear’s points were the last for South Effingham and his pin was the team’s fourth six-point effort.

“If Bear doesn’t win there, we don’t win,” Coach Bringer said.

Every point was critical, and South’s athletes wrestled that way. Bobby Craun suffered a technical fall, losing 20-4 at 165, but if he had been pinned – giving Glynn six team points instead of five – the Mustangs would have lost.

Same with Eli Wood at 138. Wood lost 7-0, one more Glynn point, however, would have turned the match into a majority decision, giving the Terrors four points instead of three and the Mustangs would have lost.

Ultimately, the big scorers for South came from the heavier weights. McFarlin, a majority decision winner against Glynn at region, came through with a pin at 190.

C.J. Lord held on for an 8-7 decision win at 215 and Anderson, the defending state champion at 285, produced a second-round pin.

Glynn scored heavily in the lighter weight classes with 13 combined points from 106-, 113- and 126-lbs.

Emilio Santana, who produced the decisive points in last year’s state championship match, was a bright spot for the Mustangs at 120. Santana (44-5) dominated during a 10-3 win.

The championship match started with the 150-pound weight class. Shomari Bailey got South headed in the right direction with a decision win and Moose (now 46-0) followed with the forfeit victory at 157.

But Glynn doctored its lineup for maximum points (part of team strategy) and had a technical fall at 165 and a pin at 175 to register 11 team points. At region, South broke even in those two weight classes with a decision loss and a decision win.

And when the Terrors scored a pin at 113 – a weight class that they lost by decision at region – they had successfully manipulated a swing of 20 team points from their region loss to the Mustangs.

“I thought I was out-coached and I was glad the kids hung in there,” Coach Bringer said. “At the end of the day, (having a competitive championship match) was probably good for wrestling. But you’re always looking to get better and better.”

The wrestling season now shifts to its traditional (individual) portion of the season. The Region 2-6A tournament will be held at Lakeside (Evans) in two weeks, followed by Sectionals at Brunswick Feb. 9-10 and the state championships in Macon, Feb. 15-17.