There is one thing that can be said of the Dawson County High School wrestling team ... it never gives up.
The Tigers proved the statement to be true Friday and Saturday at the Area Duals held at Jefferson High School.
Head Coach Arron Haynes’ team posted two wins and two losses to finish in fourth place in a very tough area.
The Tigers had a bye in the opening round before facing a tough Fannin County team.
Dawson came away with a hard fought 48-31 win that advanced the Tigers to the semi-finals of the championship bracket.
Pinning their Rebel opposition were David Wood (135), Charlie Short (140), Andrew Lovingood (145), Preston Adams (152), Tobie Lumpkin (215), Anthony Underwood (103), James Evans (112) and Timothy Blythe (119). Each of the wrestlers earned a much needed six points to pad the Tigers team total.
Also picking up a win for Dawson was Evan Kells (160) with a 16-6 win over his Fannin opponent.
With the win Dawson advanced to wrestle host Jefferson.
The Dragons have a strong tradition, having won seven state dual championships in class A and two state championships in class AA.
Haynes knew it would be a tough challenge for his wrestlers.
“We were wrestling some of the best talent in the state, but our kids fought hard and didn’t lay down for them (Jefferson). I am really proud of the way that they handled themselves and didn’t quit,” he said.
The task did prove demanding as the Tigers lost 78-0. With the loss, Dawson dropped to the losers bracket.
The Tigers wrestled Elbert County next. The Blue Devils lost to Hart County in the losers bracket 40-32.
Once again the Tigers overcame a early 9-0 deficit to come back and defeat Elbert 42-33.
Josh Gee got Dawson on the board. Gee (189) trailed 3-2 in the third period when he used a reversal with nine seconds remaining to get a 4-3 win and three, much-needed, points for Dawson County.
Tiger Tobie Lumpkin (215) tied the score at 9-9 with a pin of his Elbert foe.
Dawson picked up 18 points as Elbert forfeited the 112, 119 and 140 pound weight classes. The Tigers trailed 33-27 at that point in the match.
David Wood pinned his opponent with 1:45 left in the first period to tie the score at 33-33.
Lovingood pinned his Elbert wrestler with 14.1 seconds left in the first period to give Dawson its first lead at 39-33.
Preston Adams then finished off the win with an 8-1 decision to give Dawson the 42-33 victory to stay in the tournament
Dawson had to win its next two matches. The Tigers were matched up with Jackson County in the next round. The Panthers were coming off a 47-25 win over Fannin County.
The Panthers had defeated Elbert, 43-23, before losing to Banks County, 40-23, to get to the Tigers.
Haynes’ team fought to the bitter end before losing to Jackson by a 49-30 score.
Picking up wins by way of pin were Josh Gee (189), Wood (135) and Charlie Short (145).
Forfeits and six points were picked up by Preston Adams (152) and Evan Kells (160).
“I thought our kids wrestled hard,” Haynes said. “I would also like to thank my assistant coaches who helped me throughout the tournament. We will continue to work hard over the next few weeks to get ready for traditionals.”
Jefferson finished in first place after defeating Banks County. Both teams will represent the Area in the state finals this weekend in Macon.
Jackson came in third place, followed by the Tigers in fourth place.
Dawson will be back in action Jan. 18 with a tri-match with Buford and Johnson at Buford High School. Wrestling will begin at 5:30 p.m.