Two Greenbrier wrestlers reached the podium last weekend at the GHSA Class AAAA wrestling state championships in Duluth.
Senior Rick Stahman wrestled his way to a fifth-place finish in the 215-pound weight class, while sophomore Louie Shearer took sixth place for 125-pounders. Stahman, who entered the state traditionals as a two-time region champion, didn't earn the fifth-place finish in typical fashion.
"He did it the extremely hard way," Greenbrier wrestling coach Mike Meyer said. "It was a pretty big accomplishment. I've never seen a kid do that before, and I was talking to some of the other coaches and they couldn't remember a time where a kid did it."
What Stahman did was lose in the first round of state competition, then orchestrate one of the biggest comebacks in state history. Although he was a No. 1 seed, the Greenbrier senior was pinned by Vester Walker, a four-seed from Jones County, in the first round.
"After the match he was pretty upset. He knew he made a mistake," Meyer said.
Stahman turned his frustration into fuel and proceeded to win his next five matches. Although he dropped to the loser's bracket, Stahman pinned Antrone Sanders in his next match. He did the same to Glynn Academy's Antonio Frederick and also pinned Eastside's Ardest Carter and Cherokee's Brandon Parton in the third and fourth rounds.
Stahman finally reached the match where a win would guarantee a state medal, and the senior put himself on the podium with a 1-0 win over Effingham County's Whil Douberly.
Stahman lost in the consolation semifinals, but he beat Austin Waityra in his eighth match of the tournament in a first-round pin for a fifth-place state finish.
"I can't believe he lost in the first round then worked all the way back to fifth place," Shearer said. "That's all heart."
Shearer, Greenbrier's 125-pound sophomore, showed some heart of his own last weekend by wrestling all the way into the state semifinals. He was one win away from the state finals match, but lost in a 7-3 decision to Stockbridge's Nathan Allen.
Shearer also dropped his next two matches to finish the day at 3-3, but finished in sixth place.
No other Columbia County wrestler finished in the top six. The Wolfpack saw a school-record 11 wrestlers qualify for state competition.
"I think we're definitely getting better," Meyer said. "We've got some things in place to where we're almost wrestling year-round now, and that's helped."
Meyer said a local AAU wrestling program is in its beginning stages and will help train young wrestlers. Greenbrier recently began a middle school wrestling program to boost its high school program.
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