Well, it’s over! Another high school wrestling season has come and gone, but not without some success from both Emanuel County Institute and Swainsboro High School. Both schools had student-athletes representing the Emanuel County School District in their respective areas, sectionals, and state competitions this past season. Here’s a reflection of what transpired in January and February.
First, let me set the stage for you. Wrestling is the most individualized team sport that our Emanuel County Schools compete in. When an athlete steps across that outside circle, no one, and I mean no one, can come to their aid. There are no pointing fingers at other athletes. There is no tagging out. It’s literally "mano a mano". For example, wrestlers cannot say my teammate didn’t pass me the ball, or my teammate missed a blocking assignment. No, no, the blame falls on one person and one person only in this sport. A sport that dates back to the very first Olympics. In GHSA wrestling, our schools compete on two different stages: a dual (based on the individual success of each wrestler and the points they earn for their team) and a traditional (based on individual accomplishments.) For the first time in Emanuel County Schools’ history, both schools made it to the second step in the duals tournament, called sectionals. Another first for the county resulted in four student-athletes representing our schools at the State Traditional tournament. Wait, wait; I’m not finished. The third historic first for our county is that we had two state placers, one from each school. Finally, the last historical first is that one was a girl! Yes, girls can wrestle too!
Let's go back and recap because I just dropped much information on you. Both ECI and Swainsboro were in the top 32 wrestling teams that were represented in Single A dual competitions. Moving on to the traditional side, in total, 15 student-athletes from both schools represented our county in the sectional traditional tournaments with 14 boys and one girl. From Swainsboro Willie Hill, Zachery Lee, LaMarqus Webb, Christian Kirkland, and Jonorian Foots. From ECI Destine Hirschy, Jesse Hirschy, Jacin Zamora, Clayton Stripling, Jacob McBride, Jaden Handsom, Gage Gay, John Conner, Heath Davis, and Jordan Handsom. Four of those 15 athletes would make it to the State Traditional Finals. Zach Lee, representing Swainsboro High School, placed 1st in area, 2nd in sectionals, and placed 2nd in the state tournament at 144 lbs. Jaden Handsom, Heath Davis, and Destine Hirschy all represented ECI at the state tournament. Jaden placed 4th in area and 6th at sectionals at 150lbs. Heath Davis placed 1st in area and 4th at sectionals at 215 lbs. Destine Hirschy placed 2nd in area, 4th in sectionals, and 4th in the girls’ state tournament at 105 lbs. Zach Lee made Swainsboro High School history by becoming the first three-time state placer and becoming the second Swainsboro wrestler to wrestle in the state final championship match, and Destine Hirschy was the first girl in the county to make it to state and to place in the state finals.
For those who don’t know, this sport is fun to watch. Even if you don’t know the rules or the scoring, it will still have you on the edge of your seat squirming, twisting, and clenching your teeth with each second on the clock. Wrestling is demanding, tough, and outright brutal sometimes! Yet, it can also be the most rewarding. If you have not come out and watched either wrestling team, you have missed out on the greatest time of your life. Go Dogs! Go Tigers! Go Emanuel County Schools Wrestling!