Long after most of the teams had departed Greenbrier High School’s gym, members of the Grovetown Warriors wrestling team sat in the bleachers and waited. And hoped.
Having already beaten Evans in the third-place match at the Region 2-AAAAA Dual Wrestling Tournament, the Warriors needed a Jones County win over Warner Robins in the championship bout so they could challenge Warner Robins for second place. Had Warner Robins won the title there would have been no extra match because Jones County had previously beaten the Warriors in pool play.
The Warriors got what they wanted as Jones County took the region title with a 41-34 win.
“The toughest was sitting and getting tired,” said Warriors’ coach Jeremy Davis. “We had already wrestled four matches.This is the first tournament where we’ve had to wrestle a fifth match.”
With their shot at second place, the Warriors were unable to get past the Demons, losing 47-25, finishing third.
Much more than just bragging rights were on the line as the top two teams advanced to the state dual tournament being held in Macon, Ga., this week. While the Warriors fell just short of their goal, Davis was thrilled with what his squad was able to accomplish Saturday in the eight-team tournament.
“I’m proud of the boys today and what they did,” said Warriors first-year coach Jeremy Davis. “From a team that didn’t even come to this tournament last year to come and take third, represent Columbia County as the highest place, I’m proud of the boys.”
In pool play, the Warriors were second in their half of the draw, losing only to Jones County with wins over Northside, Warner Robins (69-12) and Lakeside (54-27) before beating Evans, 60-23, in the third-place match.
Evans finished second in its pool, losing only to Warner Robins (54-15) with wins over Houston County (52-18) and a 43-36 come-from-behind win over host Greenbrier. The Wolfpack finished sixth with a 60-16 win over Northside. In pool play, they lost 45-28 to Warner Robins and beat Houston County 52-24. Lakeside’s Panthers finished eighth, losing 39-36 to Houston County. In pool play, the Panthers lost to Jones County (69-12), Northside, Warner Robins (47-30) and Grovetown.
Neither Evans nor Greenbrier wrestled with a full complement of weight classes, so it was more of a chess match in their head-to-head, figuring out which weight classes to forfeit and when to have their wrestlers go up a class. So when Greenbrier jumped out to a 36-10 lead, the match was far from over.
The Knights got a forfeit at 152 and Jay Allen won a decision at 160 before Daniel Oliver and Monte Britton won by pins at 170 and 182 pounds, respectively. Still trailing 36-31, the Knights got forfeits at 195 and 220 to win the match.
Greenbrier head coach Chris McDaniel thought he would have a full team by the tournament, but with one quitting, another sick and another injured, the team scoring suffered once again. He was looking forward to the next part of the season.
“When we get to individuals, we’ve got some individuals that will do well,” said McDaniel. “It’s the team aspect of the season we really missed out on.”
With the Knights missing a few wrestlers to injury, Evans coach Rich Davis had much the same mindset as McDaniel.
“It’s a long season,” said Davis. “All we can do from here on out is just focus on the individuals and try to make that up with the team score at the individual tournament next month.”
Lakeside coach Johnny Castro was looking to the future for his team.
“We’re young. Hopefully, next year we’re going to do a lot better,” Castro said. “I have nothing but freshmen and sophomores on the team, so from where they started to where they are now, they’re doing OK.”