The Dawson County Tigers wrestling team hosted Clarkston High School and Johnson High School for a duals-style competition on Jan. 15.
In between dominating wins over both schools, the Tigers honored a group of seniors that Head Coach Arron Haynes recognized as special in his time with the program.
Senior Wyatt Smith opened the night with a second-round pin to win the 132-pound match against Clarkston High School. The victory marked the beginning of a five-pin streak for Dawson County as they manhandled their opponents in the opening match to a final score of 75-6.
After a series of bouts between Clarkston and Johnson (from which Johnson emerged with the win), the Tigers took time to recognize and honor the five seniors who had been a core part of the team for the last four years.
“These five started together. They’ve been here all four years,” Haynes said. “They sweat together, they bled together. This group was special, and it was good to have them all together one last time, for one big hurrah.”
Along with family escorts that included parents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and girlfriends, seniors Kevin Arias, Levi Baggett, Jack Cupp, Kelton LeBaron and Smith were introduced to the applause of the crowd and the cheers of their teammates.
As each player walked the bench, shaking hands and exchanging hugs with his fellow wrestlers, it was obviously an emotional event that Smith struggled to put into words.
“Every emotion really,” Smith said. “I’m sad. I’m excited.”
“Bittersweet,” Cupp said.
Baggett, team captain, talked briefly about the impact of the night and the surprise that his time at Dawson County was almost at an end.
“In your mind, you keep putting this night off, but now its finally here,” Baggett said. “I’m just really blessed to be able to graduate with a great group of guys.”
“It will be emotional for me later,” Haynes said. “Right now, I have a job to do and that’s to get them on the mat to take on Johnson.”
The Knights and the Tigers traded pins to open their match and then Dawson County, starting with a first-round pin from Cupp in the 160-pound category, rolled out six wins in a row, pinning their opponents in either the first or second round of every match.
The streak was interrupted with a win by Johnson High School’s T. Carr in the 106-pound weight class.
Each team picked up a win by forfeit and Dawson County wrapped up the night with a clean sweep of the final three matches to secure their second win of the evening by a final score of 66-18.
The Tigers traveled to White County for another duals-style match-up on Jan. 22. Results were unavailable as of press time.