MACON, Ga. - After falling in their first match of state duals to North Oconee 51-26, Eastside Eagles head coach Earl Larimer encouraged his guys to make noise, and they did just that before falling in the Round of 12 to the Northwest Whitfield Bruins.
Although the Eagles state duals hopes came to an end on the second day of the competition, the Eagles showed progression and improvement from their 2019 showing, and Larimer said he was proud of that.
In 2019, the Eagles lost in their first two matches at state duals, and Larimer did not want to see his guys this season suffer a similar fate. As the team broke the huddle after their opening match on Thursday against North Oconee, they rallied around the cry of "Make Noise," and they would go on to do just that.
The Eagles' second match of state duals commenced on Friday in a faceoff against the Burke County Bears, and it would go on to be a dominant display on the Eagles part.
They would go on to win the match by not surrendering a single point and taking the match 82-0 over the Bears. Several younger wrestlers were even able to partake in the contest, and Larimer said he was happy to give those guys a taste of wrestling on the big stage of state duals.
After a dominant showing against the Bears, the Eagles win secured them a spot in the top 12, and they would look to improve upon that in their next match against the Bruins of Northwest Whitfield.
Like many of the other matches in its time slot, this one would run the longest as all 11 other mats had been cleared while the Bruins and Eagles still wrestled with each team having a chance to win. It came down to the Eagles needing pins in their final two matches to win, and they lost by major decision in their penultimate match.
The Bruins eventually won 43-22, but the Eagles fought hard throughout the match, and Larimer said he was proud of the effort in each match.
With the reality setting in for many of the Eagles that their trip at state duals had come to a close, tears were shed, and disappointment spread on the faces of some members of the team.
Larimer put it best when he said that he was disappointed for his team, but not disappointed in them and elaborated on what that meant.
"I'm proud of them. I'm disappointed for us, but not disappointed in us, and there's a difference there because I thought this team was good enough to advance, but I'm not disappointed in anybody because the effort was there," Larimer said, "In my mind, there's nothing to be disappointed in, we gave it our best shot and just fell short."
One word that Larimer mentioned throughout the tournament was the camaraderie of his guys, and he felt like it was fully on display with his guys to help strengthen the team.
"This format brings a camaraderie to the individual sport that shows that it still is a team sport. We work together. We're a group. We're a unit," Larimer said, "I felt like the guys brought that energy cheering from beginning to end no matter the results, supporting one another, and I told them that will make us a stronger team."
With the duals coming to an end, the Eagles will now try to prepare and get ready for their traditional area tournament as guys try to qualify individually for sectionals and eventually a chance at qualifying for traditional state championships.
The Eagles area tournament will take place at Hampton High School on Saturday, Feb. 1.