All Cody Doolittle could do was sit and watch and try to maintain his focus.
And while Howard had won only two matches and were trailing Woodward Academy 58-9 going into his match, it really didn’t matter to Doolittle at that time.
He was only one man on the team, and his job was to win his match.
Doolittle pinned Brandon Jackson in the second period, the only victory by pinfall for Howard in a 58-15 loss in the opening round of the GHSA Class AAA team dual championships at the Macon Coliseum.
“I knew the score when it got to my turn,” said Doolittle, who also started at center for Howard’s football team before breaking his leg. “We were all excited about being here and competing at this level, because at the beginning of the year no one thought we would be in this position. We really owe it to Coach (Thomas) Bartalotta. He made us believe we could be here and compete. Hopefully we can do well in the consolation round and get a few more matches in.”
Bartalotta, who also got wins from Keyonte Simmons and Emory Searles, said he knew his team would be in for a tough matchup against a powerhouse program in the opening round.
Howard competed against Westside-Augusta in a consolation match late Friday.
“They are a wrestling school, and we are in our first year making it to state duals,” Bartalotta said. “Obviously the inexperience showed up. Developing a quality wrestling program takes longer than one year, but we have made great progress. This is a great experience for a wrestling program, and now we will watch, learn and be exposed to what this is all about.”
Another young Middle Georgia program also had a rough go of it, as Northside lost its first their first match of the day, 59-15 to Whitewater in the Class AAAA bracket.
“We were a little but awestruck (Friday),” Northside head coach Dan Kelly said. “We had six ninth-graders wrestle (Friday) against a really good team, and that experience will just make them better. We knew it was going to be tough, but I think it bodes well for the future that we are even here.”
The highlight of Northside’s morning was a thrilling 19-12 win by Curtis Askew.
Northside went up against Marist in a consolation match late Friday.
Led by two victories apiece from Anthony Wesley, Bryce Carr and Keyon Taylor, West Laurens advanced to the semifinals in Class AAA for the second straight year, defeating Crisp County and Glenn Hills on Friday.
“I thought we had a good chance to get this far,” West Laurens head coach Ed Bland said. “We know from now on everyone is good and we have to give a great effort to go any further. I am proud of what we have accomplished so far, and hopefully Saturday will be a good day.”
East Laurens lost its second-round match in Class AA after beating Monticello 44-33 in the opening round. Toombs County also lost in the second round after beating Dublin 46-36 in the first round.
In Class A, Telfair County lost its opener 60-16 to Gordon Lee.
Wrestling continues at 8 a.m. on Saturday, with semifinal matches scheduled for 11 a.m., consolation finals scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and the championship matches set for 7:30 p.m. at the Coliseum.