MACON, Ga. - His team's first trip to the GHSA Wrestling Dual Championships had just ended in heartbreaking fashion, yet first-year Southeast Whitfield coach Michael Herndon saw nothing but positives.
The Raiders ended their run in the Class AAAA field 1-2 Friday after suffering a 36-35 loss to perennial state power Locust Grove in the consolation round. The Raiders led by 20 points at one point, but back-to-back pins in the final two bouts sent them packing.
"It's the first time we've been down here and our guys were obviously happy to be here," said Herndon, whose team lost to second-ranked Marist on Thursday and beat Eagle's Landing 51-29 Friday morning. "The worst thing we could have done would be to have gone 0-2, but they wrestled hard today and won the early match. If just one thing had gone our way against Locust Grove we would have moved on, but sometimes it doesn't turn out that way."
Herndon believes the Raiders, who will return nine starters next year, will grow from the experience.
"Locust Grove is the fourth-ranked team in our class, so we fought hard," he said. "We could have beaten a lot of teams in this wrestleback bracket, but we happen to have faced the team I believe will finish at least fourth. We've got nothing to be ashamed of. The guys came down here and earned some respect."
Gordon County neighbors Sonoraville and Calhoun are in consolation semifinals at 9 this morning.
Sonoraville won its Class AAA quarterfinal matchup against McNair, 46-19, but lost 44-18 to third-ranked Banks County in the semis and will face Morgan County.
Calhoun split its first two matches in Class AA but lost 54-18 to top-ranked Jefferson in the quarterfinals before rallying to edge East Laurens, 40-39, Friday night. The Yellow Jackets now face Social Circle, which upset Lovett in the quarterfinals.