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Wrestling: West Forsyth falls to Camden in Class 7A title
Wolverines finish second in Class 7A state duals wrestling
West Forsyth senior Ethan Rickert pins his opponent Saturday during the Class 7A duals state tournament. - photo by David Roberts

LILBURN — Camden County must have smelled the blood on the mat. 

Six weight classes into Saturday's Class 7A duals state championship match, as Spencer Bovenizer received treatment for a bloody nose, Camden's wrestlers started circling the water. 

Deonte Dozier returned to pin Bovenizer in the third period, and the Wildcats rallied to win seven of the next eight matches — including five by way of pin — as West fell in the championship match, 63-12.

"Our goal was to get here. We're excited about getting here," West Forsyth head coach Evan Goff said. "I thought getting here would take the pressure off our backs. I thought the guys would open up, be loose and have some fun with it. We came out timid, and that's like some bloodthirsty wrestling right there. If they sense fear, they just double the pressure. That's what happened. It started early. They got steamrolling by the time we got to some of the favorable matchups in our lineup."

North Forsyth lost 45-30 to Lowndes in the first round, then fell 41-39 to Archer in the consolation round. 

West reached the title match after defeating Tift County 53-28 in the quarterfinals, then Colquitt County 38-31 in the semifinals. 

Seniors Dylan Fairchild and Ethan Rickert pinned their opponents against Camden and each finished the day with three pins. 

"Some guys that we really thought would get it done in the first two didn't," Goff said. "Then some of the guys that we thought had some unfavorable matchups did get it done, and it was just enough to squeak by."

Camden raced out to a quick 11-0 lead following Kholby Hopper's tech fall over Christian Walker, then Elijah Griffin's pin of Kenneth Billings. 

Rickert pulled West closer with a quick first-period pin against Christopher Zuzich, but Camden responded with three pins and a major decision to stretch the lead to 33-6. 

And when Fairchild picked up his third pin of the day, it marked West's final points of the day.

"Camden's a complete matchup nightmare for anybody," Goff said. "They're relentless on bottom. They're relentless on top. They never let up the pressure and they're well coached."

West received a healthy seven pins against Tift County, courtesy of Fairchild, Rickert, Bovenizer, Christian Walker, Zane Brooks, Reed Walker and Noah Amick. 

Fairchild, Rickert, Brooks and Amick collected pins against Colquitt County, too.

"Ten of our 14 guys started wrestling in ninth grade," Goff said. "It takes a while to get to that level, but we're not satisfied with where we are. We're going to keep getting here until we get it done. We'll go back to work Monday and shift our focus to individual effort. We have some individual firepower ... you put those guys in a big pool with a lot of fish and some of those guys may get drowned out a little bit. We're hoping some of our more elite-level kids can persevere and get on the podium, and maybe we can compete a little for a traditional title. We're going to do our best."

Coincidentally, Fairchild and Rickert scored West's only points last year against Camden during West's 59-10 loss. 

"The thing with Dylan is, Dylan is that good as a part-time wrestler in high school," Goff said. "I mean, when he was a youth he was doing the circuit like all the youth kids. Unfortunately with Dylan, you only get him in the room in late December when football is over. You wish you had a guy like that in there more often where he could help you advance some of those other guys.

"Ethan's just a straight-up committed wrestler. He does a great job in the room. He's not a vocal leader, but everybody respects him because he does all the right things. He hustles and he just gives 100 percent in everything. A lot of guys look up to Ethan, even though he never says a word in practice."

North fell to Lowndes despite holding a 30-22 lead with only four weight classes remaining. 

Collin Miller and Eli Edwards scored back-to-back pins at 220 and 285 to erase a 22-18 deficit and give the Raiders momentum, but Lowndes won the final four bouts, including three pins and a tech fall. 

Christopher Henderson, Bentley Wheeler and Tristan Graham also collected pins for North. 

North's loss to Archer came down to the final weight class, as Antwan Verdell pinned Reece Davis to hand the Tigers a 41-39 win. 

Miller, Edwards, Henderson, Wheeler and Graham, as well as Michael Gryder, won via pin against Archer.