Veteran Chapin wrestling coach Ken Wilson knew the Class 4A Lower State Championship against Lugoff-Elgin would come down to a couple swing matches.
Luckily for Wilson, most went the Eagles’ way and Chapin advances to the state championship for the first time since 2012 after a hard-fought 39-37 decision over the Demons at home Wednesday night. Chapin will face top-ranked Eastside in the Class 4A finals at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Dreher.
“You have to pull for these guys because they work so, so hard,” Wilson said. “We’ve gotten so much better since the beginning of the season. They deserve what they’ve earned.”
One of the swing matches supplied the decisive points. Freshman Hunter Dixon earned a 6-3 decision over Noah Kleinholz in the 170-pound weight class to seal the win with one match remaining.
“To see a freshman come through in such a key moment is just incredible,” Wilson said.
Dixon knew what was at stake and didn’t let the moment overtake him. It was 1-1 late in the final period when Dixon scored a takedown and earned three back points in the final 30 seconds for the win
“I knew I had a chance to win it for the team and I didn’t want to let them down,” Dixon said. “I knew it was going to be close. At the end, I was just hoping to be able to make it through and get a takedown and maybe get some extra points to win it.”
Taylor Cabe earned six important points for the Eagles. The senior came in as the third-ranked wrestler in the state at 138 pounds, but he wrestled a weight class up and pinned Markeith Drakeford, who is ranked fourth in the state at 145, with 59 seconds remaining in the third period.
That gave Chapin a 36-19 lead with some of the better Demons coming up in the next two matches.
“When Taylor pinned that guy, it gave us a boost even though Lugoff-Elgin had their best guys coming up,” Wilson said. “After that pin by Taylor, our guys weren’t going to let us lose.”
Lugoff-Elgin received pins by Noah North and Taylor Catoe in the next two matches to pull the Demons within 36-31 before Dixon sealed it.
“It means so much to make it to state, especially to the three seniors on the roster,” Cabe said. “We’ve come up just short several years in a row and to be going to state is so special.”
Cole Haile, Hank Manos, Dylan Whitcomb, and Cole Hodges recorded pins for Chapin. Nick Edenfield earned six points when he won by DQ.
Winners for Lugoff-Elgin included Jacob Paulson, Bryan Robinson, Hunter Mathis, Lorenzo McGee and Alex Register.
106: Jacob Paulson (LE) p. Will Anderson; 113: Bryan Robinson (LE) p. Alex Stubbs; 120: Dylan Whitcomb (CH) p. Jacob Vincent; 126: Hunter Mathis (LE) d. Noel Hurley 8-6; 132: Lorenzo McGee (LE) maj. Dec. Jack Norris 16-8; 138: Cole Hodges (CH) p. Austin Rabon; 145: Taylor Cabe (CH) p. Markeith Drakeford; 152: Noah North (LE) p. Kyle Nichols; 160: Taylor Catoe (LE) p. Shawn Haile; 170: Hunter Dixon (CH) dec. Noah Kleinholz 6-3; 182: Alex Register (LE) by forfeit; 195: Cole Haile (CH) p. Cameron Payne; 220: Nick Edenfield (CH) by DQ over Ahmad Bryant; 285: Hank Manos (CH) p. Seth Branham.