JEFFERSON made sure its long-standing streak of state duals titles didn’t die in Toombs County.
Despite a heavy push this year by senior-loaded Sonoraville, the Dragons emerged with their 10th-straight duals championship with a 37-18 victory Saturday in the finals. Jefferson won the final six weight class pairings of the match-up to pull away from Sonoraville.
“It was great because this is probably the hardest one we’ve ever had in the dual tournament and the team comes out on top,” said senior Zach Allen, the Dragons’ 215-lb. wrestler. “It’s one of the best feelings to be a senior and to come out and win your senior year and make sure you keep the dynasty going.”
The Class AA state duals — which were postponed back in January due to inclement weather — were hosted by south-Georgia school Toombs County one week after the traditional meet at Gwinnett Arena. Though Jefferson won its 11th-straight traditional title at Gwinnett, several Dragon wrestlers had taken tough losses individually in their brackets last week.
“A lot of them, they were disappointed in how things turned out last week individually for them, so they had to man-up and by gosh they manned-up,” coach Doug Thurmond said. “A lot of our kids manned up. And that’s the neat thing about coaching is that you watch boys find their way into manhood.”
Allen said maintaining the intensity level following the traditional tournament was a challenge the seniors accepted.
“It was hard to keep everybody pumped up for this week because everybody individually had got done wrestling and you might have lost or not made it as far as you should have,” Allen said. “But we as seniors had to just keep everybody pumped up and practicing hard and Coach T (Doug Thurmond) stayed on us.”
And it showed on the mat. The Dragons easily defeated Greater Atlanta Christian (57-9), Cook County (56-19) and Spencer (66-3) to set up a long-awaited finals showdown with Sonoraville, which boasted 12 seniors.
The championship round started with the 285-lb. class and wrapped up with the 215-lb. division. It was anybody’s match-up early on with Jefferson and Sonoraville splitting the first eight pairings. Kyle Kashuba (103-lb.), Josh Harris (112-lb.), Cason Thurmond (125-lb.) and Clay Richardson (135-lb.) provided the victories for Jefferson, but Sonoraville, whose four wins included two pins, led 18-15.
Then Jefferson showed its championship form. Cain Finch (145-lb.), Jake Sherman (152-lb.) and Shaquille Maxey (160-lb.) all reeled off victories and Forrest Przybysz clinched the title with a victory in the 171-lb. division. Jace McColskey (189-lb.) and Allen (215-lb.) then tacked on victories as the Dragons won going away.
The win capped off a 39-0 season in duals competition for Jefferson.
Several seniors in the lineup were able to win their final high school matches — like Allen, who was able to avenge an individual loss in the 215-lb. bracket at Gwinnett with his victory Saturday.
“It was nice to be able to comeback and get a comeback win,” Allen said.
Several others got to break into the lineup over the course of the two-day event.
Since Jefferson won its first three matches so convincingly, several Dragons who might have wrestled sparingly this year took the mat. Thurmond said that’s one of his favorite parts of the state duals.
“The good thing was that we got to wrestle a lot of kids, a lot of non-starters, a lot of our seniors that have paid the price but have just never broken into the lineup and I’m real proud of them,” Thurmond said. “And the good thing about this is that it’s a team thing. A lot of these boys got to be part of a state championship. And when I mean a part, I mean they were wrestling in the state championships.”