Minutes before North Forsyth wrestled Chattahoochee for the fourth consecutive year in the finals of the Area 6-AAAAAA duals, Raiders coach Travis Jarrard was white as a sheet.
“About to go throw up,” he said, and went about his business. He’s been doing it forever — even while coaching a football game in front of a girl he’d taken on one date, the woman who’s now his wife — and Saturday afternoon was no different.
It took all 14 matches, but North closed out its fourth straight area duals championship, this time a 30-29 win on Saturday at Chattahoochee’s home gym.
“I’ve coached probably 600 duals in 15 years here, and that was far and away the gutsiest performance by a Raider team that I’ve ever had,” Jarrard said. “That was a meat-grinder of a dual.”
In his personal notes leading up to the finals, Jarrard had the Raiders scored as one-point winners, though he couldn’t have predicted how the two teams would get there.
North expected Chattahoochee to move Ethan Phillips up to 120 pounds and Jordan Pitt to 126 pounds, but the Cougars didn’t do so, essentially giving the Raiders an extra win in the lower weight classes. North didn’t get the pins Jarrard expected through the middle weights, though Jacob Nash (126), Justin Lioti (132), Nathan Grimes (138) and Bradley Thomas (145) all won their matches.
Tanner Buggs scored North’s second and final pin (Cole Tenety had the other at 106) in the first round at 160, pushing the Raiders’ lead to 27-14 — its largest of the afternoon — with five matches remaining.
Chattahoochee, strong at the upper weights, stormed back: Daniel Amram beat Hunter Loyd, 5-4, at 170; Keigan Radake lost 4-2 at 182, and Stevie Anthony lost by fall at 195. The Cougars had cut the deficit to one point, leaving Zach Smith at 220 and Jackson Bardall at 285 to hold North’s narrow margin.
“Everybody thinks of wrestling as an individual sport. You watch that dual right there, that ain’t no individual sport,” Jarrard said. “That was a team win all the way. From the backup 106-pounder all the way up to the dang managers who help out at practice every day, everybody knew what their role was in each match.”
Sure enough, Smith scored a two-point takedown with under five seconds remaining in his match for an 8-6 win and a 30-26 lead. Bardall wrestled the conservative, intelligent match in a 4-2 loss at 285 that North needed, not risking a pin or major decision.
“We weren’t even supposed to be good this year,” Jarrard said. “That was the biggest question mark coming into this tournament and that’s what had me most worried. We knew what to expect from Chattahoochee because their kids have wrestled against us for three or four years. I had a bunch of young, untested kids who hadn’t been a part of that environment. We’re going to be better in two, three years because of this dual, today.”
Saturday’s win marked North’s fourth consecutive Area 6-AAAAAA duals championship. The Raiders lost to Chattahoochee once, in the 2013 traditional area duals (by one point, naturally).
“This is what we do. We’ve got each other’s backs and we go out there and battle for each other,” Jarrard said. “I’d be lying if I said the traditional duals on Jan. 31 won’t come down to us and Chattahoochee again.”
South Forsyth, led by 5-0 days from Brennan McCrum at 160 pounds and Felipe Hayes at 145 (four pins), finished third on Saturday. Jackson Baraff (132), Logan Troy (182) and Harrison Young (195) finished 4-1 on the afternoon. The War Eagles lost to Lambert, 38-33, in the quarterfinals, but beat Johns Creek (69-12) and West (40-34) to get another shot at Lambert.
South beat the Horns, 42-35, the second time around to earn a matchup with Chattahoochee for second place, but Chattahoochee booked their place in this weekend’s state duals in Macon with a 45-24 win.
North Forsyth vs. Chattahoochee - Results
106 - Cole Tenety WBF, 6-0 NF
113 - Calhoun LBF, 6-6
120 - Chase Tenety 11-3 LMAJ, 10-6 Hooch
126 - Jacob Nash 16-8 WMAJ, 10-10
132 - Justin Lioti 6-0 WDEC, 13-10 NF
138 - Nathan Grimes 14-4 WMAJ, 17-10 NF
145 - Bradley Thomas 12-3 WMAJ, 21-10 NF
152 - Leggett 8-4 LDEC, 21-14
160 - Tanner Buggs WBF, 27-14 NF
170 - Hunter Loyd 5-4 LDEC, 27-17 NF
182 - Keigan Radake 4-2 LDEC, 27-20 NF
195 - Stevie Anthony LBF, 27-26 NF
220 - Zach Smith 8-6 WDEC, 30-26 NF
285 - Jackson Bardall 4-2 LDEC, 30-29 NF