Led by Tate Evans’ state championship in the 170-pound class and Colin Dragon’s earning a runner-up finish at 106, Richmond Hill managed to pull off a third-place finish in the GHSA Traditionals state tournament.
The Wildcats wound up placing five wrestlers among the top five in their weight classes last weekend at the Macon Coliseum.
Anthony Taylor (160) got a third-place finish while fifth place finishes were earned by Jackson Crawford (126) and Dylan Tucker (182). Richmond Hill had a total of 12 wrestlers qualify for the tournament.
Anytime a coach has a wrestler earn a state championship it’s a special moment but Evans’ title was extra special as he is the son of Coach Bill Evans.
The win capped a three-year run at a state championship for Evans who was a runner-up last year at 182 after finishing fifth as a sophomore. His brother, Will, now a redshirt freshman wrestler at Newberry, had runner-up finishes at 145 as a junior and 152 his senior season.
Evans’ victory came in dramatic fashion as he suffered a broken nose and two broken fingers 30 seconds into the match. Surviving three additional stoppages for bleeding Evans rolled his opponent, Zyan Hall of Wheeler, for three points with only 20 seconds remaining to snap a 5-5 tie. “It’s been special as a Dad and coach to be able to spend five days a week with my kids,” said Coach Evans prior to the state tournament. “That’s a big deal.”
Coach Evans, of course, has had to separate his feeling between being a coach and a parent and to avoid putting any additional pressure on both Will and Tate as to expectations.
“It’s been a little bit of a learning process to coach them and let them do their thing,” Evans said. “They have learned to love the sport and to wrestle for themselves and not Dad.
“This is something they do for themselves. I am not one to put expectations on them. I’m harder on them – and I think everyone in that (wrestling) room would agree – from a coaching perspective.”
The third-place finish capped a season for the Wildcats that saw them enter it with high expectations only to lose three wrestlers who were sure points producers.
It started last summer when Nathan Furman, who was a runner-up at 126 last year as a freshman, moved to Florida with his father. Joe Fusile, a runner-up last year at 285 and who would have been a strong favorite to win a state championship this year, chose not to wrestle and Kamdyn Munro, last year’s state champion at 156, was 10-0 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Richmond Hill now has six individual titles by five different wrestlers in the last four years. Taylor Wilson got the school’s first ever in 2017, Jakeem Littles had back-to-back championships in 2019 and last year with Munro and Rick Shores also getting firstplace finishes last year. Not to be overlooked is the basketball season which is still ongoing for the Bryan County girls and the Richmond Hill boys and girls teams.
Coach Mario Mincey’s team won its opening round game of the Class 3A Public region tournament as it beat Metter, 47-36, behind Niyah Shuman’s 20-point outburst.
McKenzie Stucker chipped in with nine points while Ty Anthony had eight points and nine rebounds. Bryan County now faces host Jenkins County at 4 p.m. Thursday with a spot in the state playoffs on the line. The two teams split during the regular season with each game decided by one point.
The Bryan County boys saw their playoff hopes dashed by Jenkins County which pulled out a 40-36 win. Coach Brent Anderson said his team played hard but the game got away from them at the end.
Richmond Hill’s boys and girls have clinched state playoff berths in Class 6A and the Wildcats boys will be playing Statesboro for the region championship at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Statesboro.
Coach Bill Henderson’s team clinched a first-round playoff game at home on Tuesday night with pulsating 58-55 win over Effingham County. A win over the Blue Devils would ensure the Wildcats of playing at home the first two rounds.
The girls played Glynn Academy at 6 p.m. Wednesday night for third-place. They will be going on the road as either a No. 3 or No. 4 seed.