By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
Effingham County wrestling coach Nico Guggino says the key for wrestlers this time of year is to get as many matches as possible.
That won’t be a problem in the upcoming days for ECHS and South Effingham.
Guggino and the Rebels will be hosting the Blue Line Duals at the old Effingham County Middle School on Saturday. Three days later, South Effingham puts on its annual Turkey Duals in the Mustangs gym.
“We had about 10 wrestlers with the football team and a couple of others couldn’t wrestle because they were appealing their weight, but that’s what happens this time of year,” Guggino said. “When you do have the opportunity, you want to take advantage.”
Guggino said eight teams — South Effingham, Richmond Hill, Ware County, Vidalia, Benedictine, Hilton Head, Alexander and ECHS — will compete in his tournament. Teams are assured five matches.
The Rebels also have a three-team competition with Richmond Hill and Bryan County today.
Guggino said ECHS’ highly regarded juniors Conner Nevin and Mal Santiago should see their first action this week. Nevin, who placed third at state at 113 pounds last season, and Santiago both missed the season-opening 16-team Swamp Duals at Ware County last Saturday while appealing their weight.
Meanwhile, SEHS’ wrestling team has been going full throttle. The Mustangs held their Cardinal-Silver intrasquad preseason exhibition Nov. 10 and looked to be in midseason form after finishing second at the Swamp Duals on Nov. 13.
South went 4-1, avenging a state tournament loss to Lee County in the preliminary rounds, before losing to Richmond Hill 37-34 in the finals.
Emilio Santana (106), Stephen Tootle (120), Brandon “Moose” Bringer (132) and Enrique Santana (160) each compiled 5-0 records.
Sophomore Ashton Anderson was 4-1 with four pins at 285 and Anton Blanchard was 4-1 with two pins at 138.
“When I took over three years ago, I thought this was the year we’d be region champs,” Mustangs coach Christopher Bringer said after the Nov. 10 intrasquad match. “I think we’ll definitely be in contention for that, but we have a lot of work to do.”