Dan Gable said, “Once you wrestled, everything else in life is easy.” There are not many things about wrestling that are easy, but the Social Circle wrestling team is making it seem easy by winning back-to-back state championships.
Repeating as the State Team Dual Wrestling AA Champions at the GHSA Wrestling Team State Tournament on Saturday at the Macon Centreplex, the Redskins have been unbeaten the entire season (only one loss in two years). In fact, the 2015-2016 GHSA Team Dual Wrestling Championship was a repeat from 2014-2015 with the championship results, which are Commerce A, Social Circle AA, Jefferson AAA, Gilmer AAAA, Camden County AAAAA and Archer AAAAAA.
The repeat offender Redskins dominated their first two state matches over East Laurens 76-6 and Armuchee 67-6. In the finals against Bremen for the second year in a row, it was a battle. When asked about the championship match against Bremen, head Coach Randy Prater said, “I am extremely excited about winning state, but it did not go as we drew it up.”
What Prater was referring to is the score outcome and what happened during the match. Keeping in mind, team dual wrestling matches have 14 weight classes and each bout (14) can score between three to six points.
Beginning at 106 freshman Josh Engstrom pinned for a 6-0 lead. At 113, Bremen won (minor) making the score 6-3. Social Circle 120 lost minor which tied the score 6-6. The Redskins won the next four bouts, senior Levi Leach 126 pinned, senior Travis Tyson 132 major, senior James Corasaniti (138) pinned, and senior Reid Harris 145 major for a 20-point run and a strong lead 26-6 through the first seven bouts.
Bremen came back by taking the next four bouts at 152, 160, 170 and 182 closing the gap with SCHS 26, Bremen 21. At 195 senior David Engstrom pinned to force Bremen to have to pin in the last two bouts for the only chance to win. Just like last year 220 senior Ryan Harris secured the team victory by holding off Bremen of the bonus points needed. With the victory determined, Bremen elected to forfeit the final bout at 285 for the final score 38-25.
Prater said, “Everything we hoped for worked out until the 160 weight class. We did not expect to give up bonus points at 160 by penalty or to lose at 170 and 182, but we won the match because we scored bonus points and they did not. I was very proud of three underclassmen wrestlers Kyle Morris, Jackson Wheeler and Micah Thompson because they all faced Bremen state Champions and did not give up any bonus points. That was huge.”
The Social Circle grapplers are the first Walton County wrestling team to ever win two state titles. The Redskins plan to wash, rinse and repeat as State Champions at the GHSA Traditional Tournament which will be held at the Infinite Energy Arena February 11-13.
In the words of tennis legend Athena Gibson, “In sports, you simply aren’t considered a real champion until you have defended your title successfully. Winning it once can be a fluke.”