AJ Riner is running out of time.
South Forsyth's three-time state placer won't wrestle following his senior season with the War Eagles and instead plans to join the military. In fact, Riner didn't train with the War Eagles' wrestling team this summer because he was already at basic training.
But Riner didn't need much time at all Wednesday, beating Denmark junior John Mau 16-1 as South Forsyth cruised past the Danes 62-15.
"I think he's enjoying this year a lot more," South Forsyth wrestling coach Josh Stephen said. "It's his last year and he doesn't plan on wrestling after this year. I see him a little bit more hungry this year, putting in extra work with my assistant, Ryan Millhof, or doing a few things that maybe he didn't do before."
Riner, who wrestled at 138 pounds against Denmark, placed third at last season's state meet, finishing second the year before and third in 2017.
"He got opportunities to wrestle in college, but he just chose to go that route," Stephen said. "So, it's kind of the last hurrah for him to hopefully win a state title."
South Forsyth picked up five pins, highlighted by freshman Cole Williams (170) and senior Nick Ramsayer (182) and Rowen Aragon (195), who each pinned their opponent in the first period.
Senior Ryan Fogarty (152) and junior Matthew Meersman (160) also had pins against a Denmark team that will be a Region 5-7A opponent next year.
"I think they get up for it, because it's still a school rivalry," Stephen said. "We don't do a whole lot of duals during the week here at home — it's a lot of weekend stuff. So, it's good for them to have that. They get up for it, but then you see afterward, they're all buddy-buddy, talking and hanging out."
Denmark, which is in its second season, had a handful of forfeits against the War Eagles. But head coach Ty Brown continues to stress to his team that Denmark will be successful so long as they continue to lay the foundation.
"We had about 20 guys wrestle last year and only seven came back this year," Brown said. "The other guys said, you know, it's too hard, too tough. So, we have 14 guys who don't come back for a second year, so we're essentially starting over again. We were fortunate we had some guys come in, we have some upperclassmen, so they're physically able to hang with some of the other guys."
One of those is junior Ethan Culbreth (145), who won his decision against South Forsyth senior Adrian Gutierrez handily.
"He's been dominant in every match he's had this year," Brown said. "He made some big gains over the summer and I'm real pleased."
Senior Arthur Marsden (220) pinned his opponent less than a minute into the period, and freshman Josh Wayland picked up a second-period win at 106.
South Forsyth will travel to McCallie (Tenn.) this weekend, while Denmark will compete in the Lumpkin Traditional in Dahlonega.
The dual also provided an opportunity to collect toys to benefit The Place, a local organization that provides financial emergency assistance, clothing, food and other support services. The entrance fee to the match was waived in order to encourage turnout and help boost participation in the toy drive.