MACON — Avery Krippner could feel the pressure leave his body.
A perfect season and a chance at an individual state championship were on the line Saturday at the Class 7A state traditionals meet. So, after Forsyth Central's 182-pound senior wrestler won his match, 7-2, against North Forsyth junior Tristan Graham, all he wanted to do was celebrate.
Krippner ran to the center of the mat and left his feet, jumping in the air à la Michael Jordan after hitting "The Shot."
"An undefeated season, keeping that 'O' on the loser's [column], it's just all the pressure in the world, and now it's finally over," Krippner said. "The overwhelming adrenaline was just insane."
In all, four Forsyth County wrestlers ended their season with a state championship, including Krippner, West Forsyth's Dylan Fairchild and Ethan Rickert, and North Forsyth's Bentley Wheeler.
For Krippner, Fairchild and Wheeler, Saturday saw a season of imperfect circumstances end with perfection, as all three wrestlers finished with an undefeated record.
"It felt great, because last year it didn't go so good in the finals," Wheeler said. "To go the whole year without losing, it's just amazing."
Wheeler, who entered the tournament 37-0, won by a 3-1 decision against Roswell junior Christian Cartier, using an early takedown to set the tone.
Wheeler said he grew up wrestling against Cartier and was familiar with his style.
"I just had to take away his shots and just get into my offense," Wheeler said. "Just do what I do."
Wheeler reached the state championship match last year, too, but fell to a talented senior. The loss ultimately fueled Wheeler's rampage through the state's largest classification.
"It was a big motivator," Wheeler said. "Going back and looking at me losing last year, it just motivated me all the time."
Krippner, who brought a 26-0 record to Macon, also finished as a state runner-up last year but was determined to end his high school career with a victory.
"I saw that clock wind down and I was like, 'I can finally breathe,' you know," Krippner said. "Being undefeated just added an extra weight on."
Krippner beat Graham last weekend, 6-2, to win a region title but held his cards close.
"Well, going into region I made sure I didn't show him all my stuff," Krippner said. "Then going into here, I was like, 'He doesn't know the fake's coming.' I took him down twice and was like, 'All right, the match is over.' He never saw it coming."
Krippner led 4-1 after the first period, then tacked on three more points off an escape and another takedown, then was content to wait out the third period.
Two of the day's quickest pins came from a couple of West wrestlers in Fairchild and Rickert.
Fairchild, who is 73-0 at heavyweight the past two seasons, needed only 25 seconds to pin Lambert junior Thomas Dossett, locking him in his signature cradle and ending his high school career with a second straight state championship.
Fairchild spent only 2 minutes and 56 seconds on the mat during the state tournament, pinning all four opponents in the first period.
Rickert also pinned his way through the 160-pound weight class, culminating in a first-period pin against Denmark senior Ethan Culbreth. Rickert earned the fall after just 40 seconds, pinning Culbreth in a headlock after the first takedown.
Rickert also pinned all four opponents and wrestled for a total of 3 minutes and 28 seconds.
Fairchild's and Rickert's pins helped West finish second as a team at the meet. The Wolverines collected 152.5 team points, which was second only to Camden County's 253.5 team points.
West had a pair of runners-up in Reed Walker (106) and Noah Danforth (113), while Chase Murray (132) placed fourth for the Wolverines.
Lambert finished third overall with a team score of 117.5 behind a pair of second-place finishes by Dossett (285) and Dylan Lobdell (145). Jacob Zearfoss (138) rallied through the consolation bracket to finish third, while Mason McClung (126) and Lucas Teillon (152) each finished fourth.
North tied with Colquitt County for fourth overall, scoring 105 team points. The Raiders had a state runner-up in Graham and a fourth-place finish by Cale Bissell (160).
Zac Redecker (195) placed second for Central, while South Forsyth's Juan Cruz (113), Matthew Meersman (170) and Cole Williams (182) each reached the consolation semifinals.
Denmark had a second-place finish from Culbreth (160), then an impressive run from Joshua Wayland (106), who finished fourth after a narrow 7-5 loss in the semifinals.