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BUFORD – Dylan Altman’s wait was worth it in gold.
Altman, Buford High School’s senior 132-pound wrestler, captured the gold medal, the Class A-AA individual state championship, with a thrilling 5-3 overtime win over Aynor High School senior Andrew Scruggs on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Anderson Civic Center in Anderson.
Altman, the Class A-AA 120-pound state runner-up last season, fashioned a 3-0 record for the championship round, including the two-point win over Scruggs.
Altman, the two-time Upstate champion, and Scruggs, the Class A-AA Lower State champion, battled to a 3-all tie to force the decisive overtime.
“It was back and forth, a real close match,” Buford High School coach John Mahaffey said. “Those two really battled. It was a brawl. Scruggs had two black eyes and Altman had a pretty good scratch on one of his eyes.”
In the 60-second sudden death OT, Altman scored a match-ending two-point takedown to notch the state title-clinching win some 20 seconds into the decisive period.
“I shot quick and we scrambled a little bit and I finally got the takedown,” said Altman, who finished 38-2, which included a technical fall and two decisions on the way to the state crown Saturday. “I worked the shot, something I’ve done all year. Once the whistle blew, I shot for the takedown and battled until I got control.”
Mahaffey, who has had two state champions in the last three years, including Rashad Cunningham at 130 pounds in 2010, said Altman was motivated.
“That’s kept him going after finishing second in the state tournament last year,” said Mahaffey. “In the overtime, Dylan kept digging and he finally got the points. Dylan has been working for this since last season and he wasn’t going to be denied.
“Dylan kept going after the takedown and that way it kept the boy off balance,” he said.
Altman said his state crown was “a big relief.”
“That’s all I’ve been thinking about,” said Altman, a four-year BHS wrestler with a 133-31 career record. “When it finally hit me, it was amazing. Being there last year helped because I knew what to expect and that helped with my nerves.
“I was nervous and scared the whole match, but it was a relief to get the takedown,” Altman said. “I had something to prove. Anything else would have been worse.”
Altman said it was also a plus having fellow senior Josh Mullens at the event.
Mullens, who earned Class AA all-state honors with Altman, placed third in the 170-pound class with a 3-1 effort, including two pins for a 35-3 finish on his senior season.
“It was good having Josh there,” Altman said. “Last year, Eric McPhearson went out early, but Josh was in the consolation finals and it helped having a teammate there going through what I was going through.”
Altman caps his prep mat career in the North-South All-Star Classic at North Myrtle Beach High School this weekend.
“I’m thrilled to death for Dylan,” Mahaffey said. “He has been working for this state championship since his freshman year. The North-South matches are for the state’s best senior wrestlers and he proved he deserves to be there.”