Chapel Hill hosted a three-way local dual with New Manchester and Lithia Springs Saturday morning in the CHHS gym. All three squads were short staffed because of the holidays, with many kids having yet to returned from traveling to seeing families out of town.
The Jaguars, who had the most compete staff, swept the Chapel Hill tri-dual. They defeated the Panthers, 36-15, and the Lions, 31-17. In the only other match of the evening, Lithia Springs barely out-lasted Chapel Hill, 21-20.
New Manchester spread out the kids they did have, using different people at the same weight class against both opponents.
“Our kids as a team are looking good and are working moves to get points,” said NMHS coach Raymond Leonard. “They are getting ready to go into the area tourney and this was a good tune up event and kept the rivalry going. They did what we asked and wrestled hard.
Standing out on the evening for New Manchester was senior Justin Swanson. In the final weight class match against Lithia Springs, Swanson was down by a point with just seconds to go. Right before the buzzer, the 152-pounder managed to pull off a reversal to earn two points and the victory.
“He won with two seconds left on the clock and that is what we have been teaching our guys, to fight all the way and he got the two-point take down,” Leonard said. “This match just speaks to the hard work and dedication he has put in to the program.”
Leonard said he believes his team is going in “very strong” with one dual loss against Alexander.
“We will see who stands out on top after Friday and Saturday,” Leonard added.
The evening was a mixed bag for Lithia Springs. The Lions won their first match with the Panthers but then lost to New Manchester. The match against the Jaguars got heated at the end. As the 145 pound match between New Manchester’s Chris Hedstrom and Lithia’s Justin Harris came to an end, both grapplers got a little heated which resulted in Harris getting ejected from the event.
The next match, at 152, Harris’ brother Jordan wrestled Swanson in the match the New Manchester grappler managed to win in the final seconds. Lithia thought the call was controversial. Jordan Harris did not take kindly to the call and was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct.
”I was obviously disappointed in some of the calls, but that’s sports,” said LSHS coach David Dalton. “We will be working on gaining our sense of sportsmanship over the next few days. One of the main life lessons in sports is that life is not fair, and that there is a right way and a wrong way to address grievances. This is another teaching moment and I intend to insure the lesson is learned.”
Dalton added that the unsportsmanlike display is very uncharacteristic of the two Lithia brothers. Despite being ejected, Justin Harris, after recovering from the flu, finished the tri-dual with a 2-0 record. David Ratliff also went 2-0 for the Lions.
For the Panthers, Malcolm Hornes was the lone 2-0 performer.
“Malcolm is still working the rust off but by February I believe he will be where he needs to be,” said CHHS coach Marcus Harley. “When you have been doing this for a long time, there are certain nuances you have to be familiar with and timing becomes second nature. That is where Malcolm is and that is where I am trying to get all these new, young guys.”
Harley added that he felt his team was pretty evenly matched today and that he is happy with the improvement he is seeing in a short amount of time.
For the Panthers and Jaguars, this dual was the last warm up after the winter break before heading into the 5-AAAAA area duals on Friday. Lithia Springs will have one more match, a head-to-head with Pebblebrook on Wednesday, before the 5-5A duals. Alexander hosted the ALX Invitational on Dec. 27 and will not compete again until the 5-5A area duals, which they are hosting.
Douglas County, which will also compete on Wednesday in a three-way dual with Langston Hughes and Campbell, will compete in the 3-AAAAAA Area Duals on Saturday in Newnan.