But following the Warriors 48-30 upset over defending state champion Ringgold on Jan. 7, LFO first-year head wrestling Coach Donnie Welborn said, “They believe they can be the best.”
“We’ve said all year we had the potential to be the best,” the former LFO state champion said. “Today we defeated one of the best teams in the state. That has to say something about our guys.”
Ringgold entered the match ranked second in the state polls, but 10th-ranked LFO would not be denied the opportunity to knock off the proud county rivals.
The Warriors’ Mark Nicely (125), Adam Woody (130), Jeremy O’Neill (135) and Kasey Reeves (140) delivered four straight pins to supply the margin of victory.
“I had a feeling it was going to be up to me,” Reeves said after his pin over the Tigers’ Blake Walker gave LFO a 40-27 lead with only two matches remaining.
That was enough to send the Warriors into a celebration mode with the win assured.
“Those three matches before me changed the whole momentum,” Reeves said. “From there we weren’t giving up.”
Nicely hinted the Warriors were just warming up with the Class AAAA state tournament less than one month away.
“Ringgold is a very well-respected team,” Nicely said. “We believe if we can beat them we can beat anybody.”
Beginning the match in the 160-pound weight class, Ringgold jumped out to a quick lead after a pins from Barrett Blankenship over Justin Headrick in 0:22, and two-time state champion Josh Flinn won by forfeit at 171.
Ringgold’s Kevin LeCroy (189) then pinned LFO’s Nathan Murdock in 1:23.
The Warriors narrowed the margin to 18-6 with back-to-back forfeits at 215 and 275.
Ringgold’s Nathan Akers (130) then earned his team’s final pin of the evening over Scott Van Fosen in 2:00.
LFO’s Joey O’Neill then defeated Garrison Goins at 112, and Jared Fielden defeated LFO’s Josh Wilburn in a 1-0 battle.
The Warriors pin parade began with Nicely (125) pinning
Phillip Akers in 1:26; Woody (130) pinning Alan Lee in 2:25 and Jeremy O’Neill (135) pinning Greg Hopkins in 3:33 to set up the deciding match with Reeves taking the mat.
Ringgold’s Sean McDevitt then took a 5-1 decision over Nic Brady at 145.
And James Halloran (152) finished off the night for the Warriors with a pin over Ringgold’s Adam Walker in 3:41