LYONS — Jefferson faced a familiar foe en route to their 10th consecutive state duals championship Saturday at Toombs County High School.
Once again, they came out on top, earning a 37-18 win over Sonoraville, the team that finished second behind the Dragons in last weekend’s traditional state championships.
Jefferson cruised to the championship match with wins over Greater Atlanta Christian (57-9), Cook (56-24) and Spencer (66-3) before getting a somewhat stiffer challenge.
Dragons coach Doug Thurmond and his staff knew that Sonoraville wouldn’t go down easy.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match,” Thurmond said. “They’re a strong team and we knew we were going to be in for a fight.”
The Phoenix did in fact put up a fight, but the Dragons’ strong push in the later matches gave them the title.
Sonoraville got a quick start, recording a pin in the first match, but Kyle Kashuba won the second match, followed by a pin from Josh Harris to give the Dragons a 9-6 lead. The Phoenix tied things at nine and later tied the match again at 18.
That’s when the Dragons seniors took over.
Cain Finch, who won an individual state title last weekend, took an 8-2 decision, followed by a 16-11 decision by Jake Sherman. Senior Shaq Maxey added a pin, giving the Dragons a commanding 27-18 lead.
Forrest Przbysz clinched the title with an 11-3 decision, giving Jefferson a 31-18 lead before Jace McCloskey and Zach Allen close the match with wins.
Thurmond said that this year’s championship team might be the most significant out of the last decade of winners.
“We’ve overcame so much adversity this year with injures and illnesses,” Thurmond said. “I’m just so proud of these kids. They all just manned up this season. I just don’t know how else to say it.
“This one is sweet baby.”
The win comes a week after the team won its 11th straight traditional title.
BANKS TAKES FOURTH: After being edged out by Dublin 35-32 in the first round of the state duals, Banks County beat Carver-Columbus (57-21), host Toombs County (39-32) and Spencer in the losers’ bracket to advance to the third-place match.
There, the Leopards lost 34-19 to Greater Atlanta Christian, but Banks County assistant coach Sam Baxter — who was filling in duties for head coach Kasey Hanley — said the young Leopards wrestled well.
“We’ve got 10 freshmen and sophomores starting for us and they never give up,” Baxter said. “After losing the first match, nobody quit. We don’t quit at Banks County.”
Looking forward to the future, Baxter said that the team should continue to improve now that they have another year of experience under their belts. Banks qualified for the state duals last season, but failed to make it into the top 10.
“We’ve got a lot of good kids coming back and got some quality kids coming out of our eighth grade program, so we’re hoping we can continue to be strong.”