Tyson Brantley wrestles agains Union County

MatDawgs Tie Program Best – AA State Dual Runner-Ups

Lyons, GA. – January 25, 2024 | Coach Todd Allen

Two years ago, the Toombs County MatDawgs watched the State Dual Championships from the comfort of their living rooms, having been narrowly defeated by Fannin County in the Sectional Duals under a different qualifying format. Last year marked a significant improvement for the MatDawgs, as they reached the consolation finals at the 2023 State Dual Championships, only to be edged out again by Fannin County. They finished as the 3rd place AA dual team in Georgia.

This year, heading into the State Dual Championships, the MatDawgs were seeded third, behind the strong #2 seed Union County and the two-time defending state dual champions (once in AAA and once in AA), Rockmart. Critics suggested that Toombs County might be upset in the first round against North Murray. However, the MatDawgs silenced their doubters with a decisive 51-18 victory over the North Murray Mountaineers. They continued their impressive performance in the quarterfinals, defeating the Jordan Red Jackets 51-24.

A highly anticipated dual followed against Area 8-AA champions and #2 seed Union County, and Area 3-AA champions and #3 seed Toombs County. Interestingly, both teams faced challenges with weight classification on Saturday morning, with each having a wrestler who failed to make the designated weight class. “This is one of the nuances of our sport,” Coach Allen commented. “While athletes in most sports rest before big matches, our guys have the task of making weight first and foremost. When someone crucial doesn’t make it, it significantly hurts our chances. It’s a great lesson for our team: when adversity strikes, we have to overcome it!”

And overcome it they did, with the MatDawgs triumphing 45-33 over Union County in the semi-final match, propelling them into the State Dual Championship Finals facing off against Rockmart.

“Rockmart is a very solid wrestling program, not just a run-of-the-mill team,” Coach Allen said before the finals. Unfortunately, the Fighting Yellow Jackets proved too strong for the MatDawgs, winning with a final score of 55-21. Coach Allen praised his team’s effort: “Our guys wrestled tough. Many of their kids wrestle year-round. This is just starting to become the norm for us. Our dedicated summer wrestling schedule this past offseason really showed. We’re going to regroup for the traditional tournament.”

Reflecting on the team’s journey, Coach Allen added, “Two and a half years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined us here. Our guys have worked incredibly hard, and I’m proud of them.”

The MatDawgs ended their dual season tying the program best as Class AA State Dual Runner-Ups. They will conclude their regular season by hosting the Sweet Onion Invitational, with wrestling starting at 3:30 PM on Friday and 9 AM on Saturday. Girls will compete on Friday night, and JV will take the mat on Saturday morning.

The Area Traditional Tournament, also hosted by the MatDawgs, will follow the next weekend, with times yet to be decided.