After two matches in the quarterfinal round of the GHSA AA Team Duals Wrestling State Championships in the Macon Centreplex, the Toombs County Bulldogs trailed 4-3. At 160 pounds TCHS’s Chandler Lynn recorded three takedowns and 2 escapes to defeat Dade County’s Dakota Johnson 8-6 to give the Bulldogs a 3-0 lead. Next at 170 pounds the Dawgs lost a majority decision to put Dade up 4-3.
“You have a lot of these things figured early and we knew at 160 that was going to be a great match, but we thought we had a little edge and we did. Chandler wrestled well,” head coach Bill Benton said.
After that match the Bulldogs were dominant, they won 10 straight- six by pins which are worth six points each, two by forfeits each tallying six points and two by majority decisions. The Bulldogs opened up a 59-4 lead before Dade County closed out the match with two pins to make the final score 59-16 Toombs County.
On Friday at 1:30- in the semifinals- Toombs County will take on Elbert County which shutout Lamar County 73-0. In the other quarter final duals defending champion Social Circle knocked off Vidalia 63-15 and Pepperell edged Spencer 44-36. Social Circle and Pepperell will meet in the other semifinal match up. The two winners will wrestle for the state championship on Saturday at 3 p.m.
A daily pass for the event is $12 plus a $2 facility fee.
In first round action Vidalia whipped Screven County 67-12, Lamar County took care of Harlem 50-30 and Pepperell defeated Callaway 48-36.
Jonathan Morales (182 pounds) started the Toombs run by pinning Eli Johnson 1:04 into the first period. Isaiah Wright (195 pounds) pinned his opponent in just 27 seconds into the first period. At 220 pounds Devante Willis won by a forfeit and at 285 pounds senior Rolando Tinoco was a busy heavyweight and he earned a major decision victory by a 13-2 score.
“When you start rolling out these seniors like Jonathan Morales. He has been in plenty of big matches and he got a win and then Rolando wrestled probably one of his best matches of the year. That guy was a good heavyweight and that gets us back to the top at 106 and that is our strength. Those light guys went on a real roll feeding off one another. It is a lot of fun in a dual match when you get momentum and guys follow through and get the pins they need to get,” Benton said.
Sophomore Jose Balderas (106 pounds) executed five takedowns before pinning Jake Gatlin with seven seconds remaining in the second period. Senior Cruz Arredondo (113 pounds) pinned Hayden Langley 25 seconds in at Blake Hall (120 pounds) was up 4-1 when he pinned his man just 33 seconds into the first period.
Areal Rodriquez (126 pounds) scored a lot of points against Cayden Cooper and took a majority decision 16-7 win. “Areal has been bumping up all year (wrestling at a higher weight) and we rolled him out there at 126. I thought Areal wrestled a great match. I could tell a big difference wrestling him at his weight. He came up big and he is just a junior,” Benton said.
Two-time state champ Ricardo Santana didn’t have to wrestle as he won by a forfeit. Jaden Banks (138) turned a close match with Lane Wilson into a second period pin to record the Dawgs 10th straight win. “It was a back and forth kind of match. That is the thing that we want them to do in a dual. If you ever get a chance and he is on his back you finish the deal and he did. The guy tried to force a move on him and Jaden took him straight to his back and once he got him down there he finished up. He is another one of our seniors who came up big in this dual,” Benton added.
So after a good night’s sleep the Bulldogs will head back to the Macon Centreplex to weigh in at 11:30 a.m. and then two hours later the Dawgs and Elbert County will dual to see who wrestles for a state championship.
“We saw them at Lambert and they finished ahead of us in the individual tournament. We were missing a few wrestlers. You don’t want to look past anybody but let’s be honest we were working on them all week and looking at their lineup. It is going to be a great dual. I don’t think there is a favorite. I think little things like who wins the toss is a big deal. Who is going to have to send out at this weight or that weight. You got to count on Ricardo Santana to get his weight. This is probably the third time we have wrestled them up here. We got them last year and the year before I think we got them in a close dual. They are a team that has firepower,” Benton said before saying goodnight and sleep tight.