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Jefferson's maintains streak of wrestling state titles
Jefferson High wrestler Wayne Elliot celebrates after defeating an opponent Saturday in the Class AA state duals tournament at the Macon Centreplex. The Dragons won the tournament for their ninth consecutive duals title. - photo by Al McLeod | For The Times
If anything, Jefferson’s wrestling program had to sweat it out for a little while before claiming the Class AA state duals title — the Dragons’ ninth straight title in the team format — last Saturday in Macon.

Would the Dragons have enough points to hold off a solid Sonoraville program? How did the final few matches stack up for the Dragons with the state title still in limbo?

“It was a lot closer that we thought it would be,” Jefferson senior and 130-pound Daniel Barber said. “We had no clue Sonoraville would be that good.”

Barber might not have known Sonoraville was good enough to threaten Jefferson’s string of state titles (17 between 2000-2009), but Dragons coach Doug Thurmond was well aware that the finals would be a battle almost to the bitter end.

“Sonoraville was solid from top to bottom,” Thurmond said. “We really had to earn it.”

Of course, Zach Allen (215 pounds) put all the worry to bed when he earned a win, giving Jefferson more than the 12-point cushion needed to secure the title with only two more matches left in the championships. With a savvy wrestling program like the Dragons field, the experienced wrestlers knew the math involved and that Allen’s win sealed the deal.

To top it all off, Dragons freshman Kyle Springer (103) picked up a pin in the final match to secure the 39-22 win. Thurmond is quick to point out that state championships wouldn’t even be feasible without help from top to bottom on the team.

“I find it hard to single out one individual wrestler,” Thurmond said. “It was a complete team effort.”

En route to the state title, Jefferson picked up wins against Fitzgerald (64-10), Benedictine (62-18) and Lovett (66-12) in the semifinals. Several of Jefferson’s wrestlers won all four matches for the weekend at the Macon Centreplex.

In the finals, Cutler Finch (135), Cain Finch (140), Wayne Elliot (145) and Lucas Redd (189) provided a burst of pins for the Dragons in the middle of the last match. Other key victories came from Clay Richardson (125), Barber (130) and Forrest Przybysz (160).

“We all pulled together as a team and won the tight matches,” Barber said. “It was a total team effort, whether a starter or a backup, it took everyone to win.”

“There was a lot of excitement and smiling when we won it,” Redd said. “All week, there was a lot of anticipation leading up to state and we didn’t want to be the team to break the streak of state titles.”

Not all the storylines from the state duals took place in the finals. Jefferson’s Isaac Kelly (119) won by major decision against the defending weight class state champion from Benedictine. At 112, defending state champion Cason Thurmond of Jefferson won in a rematch of last year’s state finals against the same opponent from Lovett.

When it was all over, the Jefferson wrestlers let their guard down and celebrated the season-long process they just endured.

Along with parents and supporters, they spent the better part of the night at a local restaurant in Macon, enjoying each other’s company after winning another state crown.

The good news for the wrestlers was that they got a room to play games and joke around together until well into the night. The bad news, for the coach at least, was that he was in charge of driving the bus that didn’t arrive back home until around 4 a.m.

“It was so late, that I was a heathen and couldn’t make it to church the next morning,” Jefferson’s coach said.