January 6, 2013

Raiders off to state duals

Southeast takes big wins over Cass, LaFayette to place second in duals

In 2002, the Georgia High School Association held the first dual wrestling championships.

According to the team’s coaches, Southeast Whitfield will be in the state tournament for the first time since they started.

The Raiders opened Saturday’s second day of the Area 7-4A duals with a loss to eventual area champions Gilmer, but the Raiders then won their next three matches, edging both Cass and then LaFayette with the state trip on the line.

“We had talked to the guys about it before the action today that coming through the wrestlebacks, it would be a long day,” Southeast coach Michael Herndon said. “We knew we would have to wrestle one right after another, but I think their confidence just grew and grew as the day went on.”

It also helped to have some skilled wrestlers — especially Austin Allen, someone Herndon and the rest of the team depends on.

Allen, a 170-pound junior, was the final wrestler on the lineup when the Raiders took to the mat to take on Cass. Southeast had already lost 54-14 to Gilmer before topping Northwest 42-32 in the wrestlebacks. The Colonels were up next in the bracket, and the Raiders had already faced Cass on Friday night, winning 49-29. This time, things would be closer.

“I was very nervous going into that Cass match,” Herndon said. “It is so difficult to beat a team twice in a row, and we knew they were coming at us with everything that they had.”

Down 30-21 to the Colonels with two matches left, Tanner Acosta got a pin at 160 to bring Southeast within three points. With the victory win, the Raiders still had a chance, and they all knew it, too.

“They all crowded around me and told me to go out there and get it done,” Allen said. “I almost cried when (Acosta) won his match. I thought we were done until he won. It just all went to my head, and I was so scared. But I had beaten that guy a couple of times already.”

Herndon said Allen is one of a few wrestlers on the squad he would feel comfortable with the match coming down to his draw.

“He had a great tournament,” Herndon said of Allen.

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