By Tom White
Saturday morning, the Morgan County High School Wrestling team traveled to Harlem High School for the 2021 Area Duals. Six teams faced off in a double elimination bracket in the first year of the new region alignment for the Dogs. The Dogs ended the day as the Area Duals Runner-Up after going two-and-one on the day.
Duals tournaments are team bracket contests where you pit your best against their best in what MCHS coach Marcus Crowe described as a “chess match.” The Dogs came into the day ranked as the No. 2 seed with Harlem High School taking the top seed.
Forfeits were widespread throughout the tournament. Not only due to students being quarantined but due to the size of some of the developing programs in the area. Academy of Richmond County and Hephzibah fielded less than a half dozen wrestlers.
Perhaps no sport has been so impacted by COVID-19 as wrestling. Prior to the start, several coaches expressed that this was their first competition of the season while others sarcastically bragged that they were one-and-zero on the season.
The Bulldogs’ first action was against the Burke County Bears from Waynesboro. Nine of the 15 matches were forfeits, leaving only six actual matches. The Dogs went three-and-two in the matches with Chris Morgan (182) falling 11-10 in a match with most of its scoring happening late in the third period.
Jeremiah “Sweets” Grimsley struggled in his match but took the win after too many improper holds led to a disqualification of his opponent.
Brandon Grindle dominated his opponent at 132 taking the 18-2 win in the 2nd period.
Zack Wages pinned his 138 opponent quickly in the first period while Zach Hicks fell by pinfall in the third in a very tight contest. MCHS took the win 42 to 21.
The Dogs’ next opponent were the host, Harlem Bulldogs, the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Another six forfeits plagued the Dogs and Harlem took the championship 54-30. Dogs got pins from Grimsley (220), Griffin McAllister (126), Zach Wages (145) and Cason Turner (160).
Finally, the Dogs were challenged for a “true” second place by Hephzibah. In double elimination tournaments, the team that wins the consolation round can challenge the runner up to determine a “true second.”
The Dogs dominated the final round with Chris Morgan (182), Chance Reid (HWT), Brandon Grindle (132) and Cason Turner (152) pinning their opponents.
The Dogs will travel to Blackshear this weekend for the GHSA Preliminary Round at Pierce County High School.