The Ringgold wrestling team has shed many tears since winning two state titles in 2005.
Team members cried often and openly after the deaths of a wrestler who would have been a member of the 2006 team, a former wrestling standout and their school principal this year.
But last Saturday evening inside the Arena at Gwinnett Place in Duluth the Tigers finally were able to cry tears of joy.
Ringgold beat the odds to fight back from a 20-point deficit and win the traditional Georgia Class AAAA State Championship.
The Tigers clawed out a total of 194 points. Most importantly, that was 17 points better than runner-up Henry County.
Ringgold crowned three state champions in winning the schools sixth Georgia state wrestling team championship.
Garrison Goins (125) became the 13th wrestler in Georgia history to win four consecutive state titles. Greg Hopkins (145) won his third and 215-pounder Rob Baker his second.
Ringgold head Coach Phil Daniel said he couldnt be more proud of all of all his wrestlers.
Its been a roller coaster ride this year with all the tragedies and the ups and downs, he said. But we stayed together, stayed determined and got the job done. Im just so proud of them.
It was sweet revenge for Ringgold, which lost by two points to Henry County in the state duals three weeks ago in Macon.
Greg (Hopkins) said it all when we left Macon, Daniel said. He told everyone to watch Henry County celebrate because thats what we were going to do when we got down
Ringgolds comeback began early on Saturday.
Henry County put five wrestlers into the nights finals to
Ringgolds three. But, the men in the blue-and-white singlets had the advantage of having more wrestlers alive in the consolations.
Ringgold did not have a wrestler come back to finish third, but five finished on the podium and others gained valuable team points in early consolation matches.
The Tigers finished with fourth-place finishes from Kyle Queen (119), Alan Lee (130) and Sean McDevitt (171), a fifth-place finish from Zac Hopkins (112) and a sixth place for Michael Temple (103).
Tyler Mills (160) and Jesse Peterson (275) did not medal,
but combined for four wins over the weekend.
While the Tigers were scoring, the Warhawks were
struggling. Henry County had two wrestlers fail to win a match in the consolations and had to settle for sixth place in their weight classes. That allowed Ringgold to squeeze ahead in team points prior to the finals.
Henry County lost more momentum when Evan Warrington (103) and Robby Epperson (112) both lost in the first two matches of the finals and failed to pick up any points.
Brett Warrington (135) won his finals match, but two more
losses by Tim Vlcek (152) and Walker Daniel (171) spelled doom for Henry Countys hopes.
Vleck lost to Nate Carr, Jr. of Jones County the son of 1984 Olympic champion Nate Carr. Daniel fell 4-3 to unbeaten Jordan Dukes of Hiram.
Ringgold kicks door in to win sixth
That gave Ringgolds heavy hitters the opportunity to kick the door in on their rivals.
Goins (125) edged super Salem sophomore Peter Yates, 4-2.
Hopkins (145) defeated Woodward Academys Tommy Carney 9-2.
Baker (215) added a fantastic finish with a 3:34 pin of Romes Josh Hines.
We knew we had the firepower to do it, Daniel said. We dont rebuild, we just reload.
Marist (101), Woodward Academy (92), Eagles Landing (91), Stockbridge (88), Eastside (80.5), Northgate (75) and Southwest DeKalb (73) rounded out the top ten.
Among area Class AAAA schools, Murray County (45 points) was 24th, Rome (39.5) was 27th, Ridgeland (33.5) was 31st, LFO (31) tied for 33rd, Northwest Whitfield (29) was 35th and Southeast Whitfield (26) was 37th