Forsyth Central wrestler Darius Green stood stared into the eyes of Lumpkin County’s Seth McDonald on Saturday afternoon, fully aware of what was on the line.
The 285-pound final he was competing in was the last bout of the 2018 Coal Mountain Classic at North Forsyth High School. A win by Green would secure Central the No. 1 team spot, an unlikely outcome for a team that only sent eight wrestlers to the event due to injuries.
“I was just thinking, ‘I win, we win,’” Green said. “My coaches before the match, they told me and were like, ‘You’ve got this.’”
Green’s opponent didn’t move very much, and Green took advantage by going for the takedown. Three minutes into the match, he got his pin, sending his onlooking teammates and coaches into a frenzy. Central finished with 134 points for the top spot, and host North Forsyth finished fourth with 124.
“We came into (seeing this) as a test of, ‘What do you do when the best laid plans go astray?’” Central wrestling coach Jeremiah Walker said. “If (injuries) were to happen for region duals, how do the guys respond to adversity? They came in knowing that they needed to score points for their team as practice for something that you hope doesn’t happen.’ They followed through, which is a great sign.”
Central was close to not being in that position, though. The Bulldogs sent four other wrestlers to finals matches, with only Abraham Perez (126) and Avery Krippner (170) coming away with victories. Keaton Platzke (195) and Sam Aldrich (152) finished as runners-up in their respective weight classes by razor-thin margins. Aldirch’s bout with Lumpkin’s Keller Brown could have gone either way, with Aldrich taking the lead twice before falling 10-9 by decision. Mikel Stowers (138) secured a third-place spot with a win over Westminster’s Matthew Cha.
“We had close matches in the finals,” Walker said. “Our mantra this season against talented wrestlers is (to) keep it close and give yourself a chance. Even those some of those finals matchups didn’t go the way that we wanted them to, they did just that.”
The Raiders crowned two champions, Paul Watkins (138) and Devin Shanyfelt (160), who pinned his opponent in just 39 seconds. Cale Bissell (132) and Tate Bissell each reached the finals but ended their days as runners-up. Bentley Wheeler (152) and JC Wilkinson (182) each went through consolation brackets for third place finishes.
Right after what head coach Travis Jarrard saw as a positive week for his squad, the results on Saturday leave him longing for a little more consistency, although his mindset is a positive one.
“We have a lot of positives one week and a lot of negatives the next week,” he said. “This was one of the negative weekends – a lot of our younger guys making a lot of mistakes and not doing what they did last week. I guess that means next week we’ll do good.”