The Ridgeland Panthers' dreams of winning a State Duals title in their first-ever appearance at the tournament came to a heartbreaking end on Thursday afternoon, although their quest for a trophy in Macon still continues.
Ridgeland lost a tough 39-32 decision to traditional state stalwart West Laurens in the first round of the Class AAAA brackets to drop to the consolation brackets. They will wrestle in an elimination match against Baldwin at 7 p.m. tonight at the Macon Centreplex.
Starting the match at 106 pounds, West Laurens got out to a 30-14 lead following the 160-pound bout. The Panthers' points came on a minor decision by Mehki Ross (113), a forfeit win by Jordan Hughley (132) and a technical fall by Jacob Mariakis (138).
However, the Raiders gave up forfeits to Hunter Bain (170) and Ethan Morgan (182), which sliced their lead down to 30-26 with three bouts remaining.
West Laurens would earn three points for a minor at 195, but Chris Henderson's pin at 220 pulled Ridgeland to within one point, 33-32, with only the heavyweight bout to go. But the Raiders would get a six-point victory in the final bout to secure the win.
Baldwin was hammered by Woodward Academy, 78-6, in their opening-round match, while the other two matches in the Panthers' side of the bracket saw Marist edge LaGrange, 36-32, and powerhouse Jefferson blank Northside-Columbus, 79-0.
In the top half of the bracket, Gilmer handled Blessed Trinity, 45-28. Oconee County slipped past Cairo, 39-33, and Luella shut out Burke County, 82-0.
Should Ridgeland beat Baldwin tonight, they would wrestle at 12:30 tomorrow (Friday) against the loser of the quarterfinal match between Troup and Luella.