MACON — North Forsyth’s Dylan Lyerly and Lambert’s Thomas Dossett have come to know each other quite well. For Lyerly, a little too well for comfort.
Both wrestlers, each of them sophomores, had faced off against each other twice prior to Saturday’s GHSA state traditional meet in Macon, with Lyerly winning by slim margins on each occasion. When Lyerly found out he’d be wrestling Dossett again for Class 7A's 220-pound state title, there was a sliver of concern despite his past success against him.
“It kind of worries me, really, going back-to-back-to-back with one person, just because they start getting down my technique and how I do stuff,” Lyerly said. “But other than that, it's not bad.”
The Forsyth County duo’s final match of the season didn’t disappoint. Dossett jumped out to a 2-0 lead by the middle of the third period, but after an escape and a takedown from Lyerly, he just needed to cling to a 3-2 edge.
But with a paltry three seconds remaining in the bout, Lyerly was called for stalling, tying it up at 3-3 and giving Dossett new life. Lyerly had to stay composed heading into an overtime period that seemed out of the question just moments before.
“I'm thinking, ‘I'm about to lose this match in overtime if I get another stalling call or something like that,’” Lyerly said.
That overtime period was as closely matched as the rest of the bout, but 28 seconds in, Lyerly broke through with another takedown, and when his 5-3 win was finally secured, he jumped into the arms of his coaches in celebration.
“With that kid, you just never know,” North wrestling coach Travis Jarrard said. “You never know what he's going to do, what he's going to pull out. He's determined, he's a big goofball and no matter what he does maturity-wise over the course of the rest of his life, he's always going to be a state champ.
“It's unbelievable. He's only been wrestling for 15 months and now he's a state champ, so it's awesome. I don't think it's sunk in for me yet.”
Lyerly wasn’t the only Forsyth County product who saw success on Saturday, though. County schools sent eight wrestlers to the finals, with four coming away with championships.
West Forsyth junior Dylan Fairchild earned the county’s other title in Class 7A, completing a dominant run through the 285-pound bracket. He pinned Cherokee’s Todd Parks in just 32 seconds to earn his first win at state.
“It's surreal,” Fairchild said. “It's crazy — It's what I've wanted my entire life. I don't even know what to say.”
The county’s other two titles came courtesy of Pinecrest Academy in the Class 1A bracket. Senior Joe Metz, who had seen nothing but heartbreak in his previous three trips to state, finally earned a long-awaited championship at 152 pounds by besting Trion’s Lincoln Maddux 4-3.
Metz fell behind Maddux early in the bout, but after getting two escapes and a takedown, he entered the third with a 4-2 lead that he just needed to hang on to. When Metz heard the final whistle, he pumped his fist and ran over to hug his father Patrick, one of the Paladins’ assistant coaches.
“I can't describe it,” he said. “This is a culmination of everything I've worked for since I started wrestling. It's just great to get a state title, man.”
Pinecrest’s other wrestler was Joe’s younger brother, Mark Metz, who had seen previous success at state. After becoming last year’s 1A champion at 106 pounds, he earned his second straight traditional title at 126 pounds, defeating Mount Pisgah’s Tyler Nelson 10-8.
“Mark and I have supported each other through it all and it's something special to go through that with your brother,” Joe said.
Forsyth Central had two wrestlers in the finals in Avery Krippner (170) and Branden Redecker (195), with each of them falling just short. Krippner came particularly close: He held a 4-2 lead late in the final period, but Brookwood’s Chase Hornsby scored five straight points in the bout’s final 34 seconds for the comeback victory.
For North, Bentley Wheeler (160) also fell in the final round, but to Jarrard, the future is bright not only for his team, but for wrestling in the entire county.
“We put six in the finals in 7A,” Jarrard said. “Our region fared well this week, our county fared well this week. We're up there as one of the best wrestling counties in the state. We're going to be here for a while.”