By Nick Nunn staff writer
The Morgan County High School (MCHS) Mat Dogs earned a third-place finish at the 2014 Georgia High School Association (GHSA) AAA State Duals Championship last Saturday, Jan. 11.
The bronze finish marks a step up for the Mat Dogs, who earned consecutive fourth-place finishes during the past two years’ state duals. Morgan County began the state dual with a 51-25 win against 2-AAA runner-up Adairsville.
After taking an early lead over Adairsville with wins by Zack Jenkins, Nathan Lundy, and Sean McElligott, the Mat Dogs never looked back. Jacob McAlister, Jody McAlister, Luke Mitchell, Dmonta Wright, Jeremy Worth, and Colin Efird all earned wins against Adairsville to move Morgan County into the semifinals. Morgan County Wrestling Head Coach John Robbins said that the match against Adairsville was “a great start for our guys.”
Next up, the Dogs were pitted against Banks County, the defending AAA state champions. After taking a lead early in the dual, Morgan County fell behind and lost to Banks County 24-56 despite wins by Jenkins, Lundy, Jacob McAlister and Jody McAlister.
“We let a halftime lead slip away in this one,” said Robbins. “Our guys gave them a great dual, and we had a legitimate shot at stealing this one and sliding into the finals.”
After the loss to Banks County, the Mat Dogs moved to the consolation bracket semifinals, where they faced Sonoraville, which is this year’s 2-AAA champion. Morgan County won 39-28 in what Coach Robbins described as a “super-close dual.”
Victories by Lundy, Jacob McAlister, Mitchell, Wright, John Grubbs and Zack Jenkins were just enough to push Morgan County ahead of Sonoraville for the win.
“They had a chance to steal it right up to the last match with a heavyweight fall,” stated Robbins concerning the dual with Sonoraville.
“We edged Sonoraville out in the consolation finals last season as well as battling with them the season before, so this matchup has become a bit of a rivalry.”
The win against Sonoraville moved Morgan County to the consolation finals, where they would battle for third place against Woodward Academy, defending AAA State Dual runner-up and 2013 AAA Traditional Champions.
Morgan County had to fight for the lead repeatedly during the consolation finals, inching out in third place with a 39-36 victory. Jacob McAlister, Jody McAlister, Wright, Wyatt Martin, Worth, and Jenkins provided just enough Morgan County firepower to secure the dual.
“This was the most exciting and fun dual I have been a part of in a very long time,” stated Coach Robbins. After the duals, Coach Robbins wanted to thank Dusty Sidwell, Morgan County assistant wrestling coach and former two-time 215 lb. State Champion for Morgan County, for his work with Garrett Bone and Zack Jenkins this season.
Robbins also thanked the parents and fans who attended the duals at the Macon Coliseum. “This venue can be like being in the red zone at an opponent’s NFL stadium, as the crowds are right on top of the action and often can inflate a team to do the extraordinary,” began Coach Robbins.
“Maybe one day, the people of Madison will realize what a great job these young men are doing and come out and support them. It’s not everyday that your hometown team makes it to the state semi-finals and has a legitimate chance to win.”
Tuesday, Jan. 14, the Mat Dogs hosted Senior Night with duals against Jones County and Elbert County at home. This Saturday, the varsity wrestling team will travel to Dublin for the Shamrock Scuffle, while the JV will be in Norcross for the second Collins Hill JV Duals. Congratulations to the Mat Dogs on their fantastic finish at the AAA State Duals!