By Kalli Drake, staff writer
The Morgan County High School (MCHS) Varsity Mat Dogs competed in their final wrestling tournament of the season, the GHSA State Championships, beginning Thursday, Feb. 12 and finishing Saturday, Feb. 14. The team had three wrestlers place in the tournament, two of which earned their first-ever career state placements. Senior Nathan Lundy placed sixth in the 106 lb weight class, ending his season with a record of 44 wins and 15 losses.
He is a four-year letterman and earned his first career state placement to round out his senior season. “We had some really tough breaks in his last two matches. The difference between third and sixth place in this weight class was decided by one point and overtime bouts,” said Coach John Robbins.
Placing fifth in the 138 lb weight class was sophomore Jody McAlister. He finished his season with a record of 46 wins and nine losses. He also earned his first career state medal after losing a heartbreaking match in the semifinals. McAlister’s weight class consisted of four returning state medalists that did not repeat their medals in this tournament. “It doesn’t matter what the score is. Jody is never out of the match,” Robbins said.
Robbins noted that McAlister was very close to winning his entire weight class. His fast-paced wrestling proves to be a challenge for the other 138s, and he will be a favorite to take home the win next year.
The final placing Mat Dog was junior Luke Mitchell, who earned fourth place in the 145 lb weight class. He earned 39 wins this season and was the team’s highest placing member in the tournament. The match that decided his fourth place was a near win for Mitchell, and Robbins is hopeful for an individual championship in Mitchell’s senior season. Freshman Garner Drummond also gave a strong showing in the tournament, completing his season with 27 varsity wins. He barely missed being a state medalist after falling to a wrestler he defeated in the previous weekend’s sectionals. “Drummond was probably our most improved wrestler, as he showed the state that he could take the mat with anyone. This guy will find himself on the podium several times before he graduates,” Robbins said.
In a shocking turn of events, sophomore Antonio Robinson was defeated in the last two seconds of a match to put him off of the podium for the 152 lb weight class. Robbins, however, feels that this match will only fuel fire for off-season training.
Another freshman Zach Smith earned 18 wins this season. He was injured in the beginning of his last match, but refused to bow out due to injury. “The toughness this young man has delivered him to the final qualifying round, somewhere no one expected him to make it to,” Robbins said.
Finally, senior and team captain Jeremy Worth finished with 47 wins on the season and was the team’s leader all year. He is the Mat Dog with the most wins for the season, and Coach Robbins feels he could not have been a better captain. “The season didn’t end the way we had hoped, but one tournament could never change the body of work this young man has accomplished over the last four years. He will be greatly missed next season,” Robbins said. Despite tough matches, injury and falling to opponents in close-call matches, the Mat Dogs were still able to put wrestlers on the podium and add to the program’s success for the season.