Columbia is ranked well down the Class 2A wrestling list by scmat.com, but the No. 10 Capitals are deemed the No. 1 seed in the Upper State dual meet qualifying tournament on Saturday at Powdersville High.
Joe Lovier’s 24-4 squad must pull off four wins to qualify for the small-school championship match on Feb. 15 at Dreher. The Capitals have finally had some mat success at the state level in recent years, winning three straight first-round outings. Columbia, however, has never made it past the second round.
The Caps have a first-round date against 1-16 Pendleton. If successful, the locals square off against either host Powdersville or Indian Land in the second round.
Columbia’s leaders include juniors Louis Wilson, Kimone Shaw and Kalil Collins, senior Justin Frasier and sophomore Sam Bennett.
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Wilson was a silver medalist at state at 152 pounds last season and is ranked No. 1 entering the postseason at 160. Shaw (3rd at 170), Collins (6th at 106), Frasier (4th at 195) and Bennett (8th at 152) are also top 10 wrestlers at their respective weights.
Region 3-2A rivals North Central (18-9) and Keenan join Columbia in the Upper State field. NC takes on 9-9 Whitmire, while the Raiders take on 16th-ranked St. Joseph’s.
Senior Justin Whitmore, a state qualifier a year ago, is the top NC hand. He is ranked No. 2 at 170 pounds behind defending 170 state champion Bernard Harmon of Timberland.