The fact that Doug Thurmond could piece together wrestling state titles in both the traditional and dual format this season was remarkable, even though the Dragons have a double-digit streak of state titles in both now.
Not only did the Dragons have to fend off a formidable opponent in Sonoraville to earn the Class AA state titles, but it was just as constant of a battle to battle back from players' injuries and sickness.
Jefferson's Jace McColskey entered the season with a torn meniscus stemming from baseball. Then in the Lambert Invitational, Clay Richardson went down with a torn clavicle, and Clay Richardson went down with a tear to his UC Joint, similar to a Tommy John injury.
And throughout the season, Jefferson seemed to fight a never-ending battle against grapplers feeling the effects of the flu. Through it all, Thurmond fielded a team that, once again, dominated its own classification and held off hard-charging teams, like Sonoraville, to win the 10 straight in the duals and 11th straight state title at the traditionals.
"Every state title is special," Thurmond said. "We had a group of kids that worked unbelievably hard this season."
For his efforts, Thurmond is The Times' Area Wrestling Coach of the Year.
Thurmond learned everything he needed to know about his team with the way they responded to adversity during the traditional state meet at the Gwinnett Arena. Thurmond's own son, Cason, missed out on a shot at his fourth-straight state title with a semifinal loss, but never stopped battling. Likewise, senior Zach Allen lost in the semifinals at 215 pounds, but fought his way back for a third-place finish with earning team points in mind.
"Our kids, believe it or not, wanted that state title so bad for the team," Thurmond said. "They just never stopped working because they didn't want to be the team that broke the chain."
In all, 10 wrestlers from Jefferson placed at the state meet. That was the main reason the Dragons and their 196 points placed 19.5 points ahead of Sonoraville. Jefferson wrestlers finished 6-0 in third and fifth place matches during the final day of the three-day event in Duluth.
That showed Thurmond plenty about the character of his
"They stepped up when the chain was in jeopardy instead of folding in the wrestlebacks, which they could have done," Thurmond said. "That showed a tremendous amount of leadership."
Least important personally of all of Thurmond's
accomplishments this season was the fact that he hit 400 career wins against Greater Atlanta Christian in the first round of the state duals. He's more focused on things that draw positive attention to his program, which is pretty easy when the state championships keep stacking up.
"I don't really care about the me stuff," Thurmond said. "I like the things that are about the boys, the team."