Dutch Fork opens the 2008-09 wrestling season on Wednesday at home with a tough tri-match featuring neighboring Chapin and Lugoff-Elgin. All three teams are highly ranked by SCmat.com. DF is fifth in the Class 4A preseason rankings, while Chapin and Lugoff-Elgin are third and fourth, respectively, in 3A.
Silver Foxes coaches Ken Wilson welcomes back 10 starters from a team that went 15-7, won the Region 5-4A championship and advanced to the Lower State semifinals being eliminated by Fort Dorchester.
The veterans in tow include sophomore AJ Finley (112), senior Matt Dherckers (119), junior John Brannigan (125), senior George Holstead (135), junior J.B. Studemeyer (145), senior Parker Leslie (152), junior Adam Strother (171), senior Cory Koon (189), and senior TJ Cayruth (215-H).
Holstead and Cayruth are headliners. Holstead capped a splendid varsity rookie campaign by winning a state championship at 130 pounds. His 3-0 run at the traditional state tournament, including a dramatic 7-5 overtime win in the finale, left him with a 45-3 record. Cayruth finished 43-6 mostly at 215, but he went 0-2 at state in the heavyweight division after he swapped spots with senior star Iouri Burroughs, who went on to prevail at 215 for his first state championship. Cayruth, a two-time qualifier, is determined to improve on his career 1-4 grade at state.
Finley and Brannigan also made the state cut a year ago, and both went 0-2 at the season finale. Finley closed with a 25-16 record at 105, while Brannigan had a fine, 33-12 season at 125.
Dherckers had 25 wins last season and Cory Koon is a three-year starter.
Marshall Williams, Zack Bregovi and Dan Adedokun are three other Silver Foxes with some varsity experience under their belts. Williams was the state junior varsity champion at 215 last season. Adedokun is coming back after sitting out last season with an injury.
Newcomers to watch include freshmen Levi Leslie (103), Austin Koon (140) and Thomas Walker (160).
Winning another Region 5-4A prize will be much tougher this time around, now that realignment has place Lexington, Irmo and White Knoll into the mix.