By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH, Ga. — Griffin Alexander has more than just a gold medal around his neck to remind him of his state wrestling triumph.
He’s got battle scars. Literally.
Alexander, an Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy junior, won gold at 195 pounds in last weekend’s state tournament in Macon, defeating his Mount Zion, Carrollton opponent by disqualification.
How, you ask? Let Alexander tell you.
“He decided to bite me,” Alexander said. “I still have the teeth marks on my arm. It was bleeding real bad at the time. It surprised me.”
It happened, as Alexander recalls it, when the junior had his opponent on his back and in trouble.
Alexander said that initially officials were just going to rule the Mike Tyson-esque tactic as a technical fall, give him one extra point and wrestle on. But Alexander said a “head official” who was on hand at the finals match overruled them and awarded the ELCA grappler a win.
But Alexander said he wouldn’t have cared if he had to keep battling.
“I actually wanted to finish the match so that they couldn’t say that I only won because of a disqualification,” Alexander said. “I was about to pin him anyway. Either way, I was really happy.”
Doubly happy, when you consider that Alexander wasn’t the only Charger who took home gold. Fellow junior Chase Burdette also grabbed the podium’s top spot when he won a 2-1 decision in his final, also of Mount Zion, Carrollton.
The duo represents the first state champion wrestlers of any kind to come out of ELCA. And the fact that both are friends, practice partners and inside linebackers on the Chargers football team, makes the accomplishment even sweeter.
“I was so happy for Griffin when he had won,” Burdette said. “It’s crazy to think that me and him are the first ever individual state champions at ELCA ever. So it’s super surreal. I was cheering him on during his match, and I know he was doing the same for me.”
Said Alexander: “It’s a big honor to be able to say that me and Chase were ELCA’s first two champs. Since we’re best buddies, it means a lot.”
Winning state wrestling championships aren’t the only thing the duo has accomplished together. Both Alexander and Burdette are linebackers on ELCA’s football team. In 2012, they were freshmen when the Chargers won a state football championship.
And the magnitude of that achievement is not lost on Burdette.
“I think it’s just surreal to accomplish something like this in two different sports,” Burdette said. “It’s hard to comprehend sometimes. Most kids never even make it to a championship game in one sport, let alone winning one in two, so it’s special.”