Bulloch Academy travelled to the GISA state wrestling tournament in Macon looking forward to a weekend of tough competition and a chance to be crowned the top team in the state.
In the end, there was barely any competition to speak of.
The Gators blew the competition out of the water, racking up 281 points to claim the Class-AAA state title Saturday afternoon. The Westfield School finished in a distant second with 208 points and only one other school — Mount deSales — also cracked the 200-point mark.
Daniel Hendrix (126-pounds), Caleb Bohannon (170) and Codi Johnson (195) each claimed individual state titles while 13 of the 14 Gators placed in the state meet.
"We’re obviously thrilled," BA coach Andy Tomlin said. "This is something we’ve worked long and hard for. It’s rare that a team can win a title by this big a margin. It’s even rarer that 13 different guys place in a state tournament."
The disbelief didn’t stop there as Tomlin contemplated the incredibly quick rise of the Bulloch squad – from fledgling program five years ago to the top team in the highest classification of GISA in 2012.
"It’s really incredible. I don’t know if I would have thought this was possible when we first got started. It’s a testament to the dedication that all of these guys have shown. I couldn’t be more proud of them."
In addition to the three individual champions, Dillan Finch (152) and Asa Johnson (182) made it to the state finals in their weight class. The closest thing to a disappointment that the Gators endured at the state meet was seeing Mitchell Ball’s unbeaten streak come to an end — although he racked up 65 consecutive wins to start his high school career.
Ball finished fifth in the state, and while he didn’t claim a third consecutive individual title, he and the rest of the Gators contributed greatly to the huge margin of victory.
"Of course you can’t have everyone win a title," Tomlin said. "But even after they lost a match, everyone kept fighting. They wrestled hard and everyone was able to give us points for the team. This is a great accomplishment and it belongs to everyone on this team."
Mike Anthony can be reached at (912) 489-9404.