Luke Mitchell leans in to lunge at his opponent. Photo by J. Walker

Luke Mitchell leans in to lunge at his opponent. Photo by J. Walker

By Nick Nunn staff writer

The Morgan County High School (MCHS) Mat Dogs topped the 15-school pile at the 1-AAA Region traditional tournament this past weekend at the MCHS gym.

In addition to earning the top spot in the region, 10 individual Morgan County wresters finished in the top four spots, progressing on to the AAA Eastern Sectionals, which will also take place at the MCHS gym this Saturday, Feb. 8, beginning at 10 a.m. Nathan Lundy (106 lb.), Jody McAlister (132 lb.), and Dmonta Wright (152. lb) all fought to the championship position in their weight classes, despite tough competition from Appling and Pierce County wrestlers.

Lundy’s 3-0 record at the 1-AAA tournament began with his first opponent’s forfeiture, but Lundy won his final two matches by pinning his Dodge and Appling County counterparts.

McAlister’s victories were harder to achieve; after earning a 19-3 technical fall in the first round, he also picked up 11-1 major decision to make it into the championship bought.

Facing tough competition from Pierce County in the final round, McAlister held onto a lead to earn a win by a 10-7 decision and the championship.

Wright’s championship came only after four consecutive victories: three falls and a 17-5 major decision. Morgan County’s Jacob McAlister (126 lb.), Jeremy Worth (170 lb.), and Zack Jenkins (285 lb.) each came out as runners-up in their brackets after falling in the final rounds.

Jacob McAlister and Worth each went 2-1 at the tournament with two victories by fall, while Jenkins had to earn three wins before making it to the championship match.

The Mat Dogs also had three wrestlers to accomplish a third-place finish at the tournament by going 4-1 overall: Antonio Robinson (138 lb.), Luke Mitchell (145 lb.), and Colin Efird (182 lb.).

Wyatt Martin finished third in the 160-pound weight class after earning a 3-1 record. Lundy, Jody McAlister, Wright, Jacob McAlister, Worth, Jenkins, Robinson, Mitchell, Efird, and Martin all earned the chance to compete in the AAA Eastern Sectionals this Saturday by finishing in the top-four spots of their weight class. Sean McElligott (120 lb.) and John Grubbs (195 lb.) narrowly missed the top four with 3-2 and 4-2 records, respectively.

“I’m very proud of how our guys responded after a tough semi-final round that saw us drop four nail-biters in a row,” said MCHS Head Wrestling Coach John Robbins about the wrestlers who were able to fight back in the consolation brackets to place in their brackets. “In years past, the semi-finals have been where we would pull away from the rest of the field. At the conclusion of the semis this year, both Appling and Pierce were within five points of us making it anyone’s tournament to win. The effort of these young men in the consolations brought home the region championship, our fifth consecutive traditional title. It was a true team effort, as all 14 combatants, not just the 10 qualifiers, scored contributing points.”

As a result of the points earned by the team’s individual wrestlers, Morgan County placed first as a whole in the tournament, with a cumulative score of 261.5. By comparison, Appling County and Pierce County, the first and second runners-up, earned 237.5 and 233 points, respectively.

With the sectionals squarely in their sights, the Mat Dogs are preparing for some of their toughest competition. “From here it gets significantly harder, as we are now pitted against Area 4-AAA, which is without a doubt the toughest of the four AAA areas,” said Coach Robbins.

“Both teams that placed higher than us at state duals… were from this area.”

For the second weekend in a row, the Mat Dogs will be hosting high-grade talent at their home gym.

The AAA Eastern Sectionals, which will begin at the MCHS gym at 10 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 8, will again provide Morgan County sports fans with state-level competition right here in Madison.

Come out to give the Mat Dogs a true home-field advantage that will help to propel them on to the State Tournament!