Columbia, Pelion, Mid-Carolina and Keenan have first-round dates Class 2A state wrestling playoffs dates on Wednesday. Gilbert, ranked fifth by scmat.com, draws a first-round bye and opens the playoffs at home on Saturday.
Columbia and Pelion rate first-round home matches. The Region 4-2A champion Capitals host a traditionally tough Crescent team in the Upper State bracket, while the Panthers welcome first-year Ashley Ridge to the Midlands for a Lower State bracket affair.
Columbia secured its first region title by finishing first at the region tournament last week at Keenan. Devonne Montgomery (130), Trey Harper-Columbia (135), Roland Bridgette (140), Antonio Geiger (145), Trey Leonard (171) and Jerry Johnson (189) was the Capitals individual champions.
Columbia enters the playoffs with an 8-6 record, including a 5-0 run through Region 4.
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“The season has been a successful one in my opinion We finished undefeated in the region that has programs that are just getting started like we are, so I'm pleased with the progress our kids have made,” said Capitals coach Joe Lovier.
“We have incredible sophomore and freshman classes that I'm excited about. I believe that every one of these kids will be back next year, which hasn't happened before. This season, if feels like we've come together as a team, not just a bunch of individuals.”
Leonard and Johnson are the Columbia headliners. Both juniors are ranked fifth in their respective weight classes by scmat.com “They have both been having success. Jerry is close to turning the corner and becoming a powerhouse; he's not there yet, but he's close. Trey has done an unbelievable job this year. He continues to improve everyday on the mat and with his conditioning. He has beaten Jeff Hoover from Gilbert (ranked No. 2) the last two times they wrestled. He is a guy on a mission.”
The Caps suffered a big loss recently when freshman 112-pounder Randy Medina tore up a shoulder in practice and was lost for the season. Medina finished with a 19-6 record.
“The other guys are coming along great,” said Lovier. “Antonio Geiger took his lumps and bruises, but goes out as a senior with a region championship in his first year of wrestling.”
Keenan has the toughest draw of all the Midlands 2A entries. The second-year Raiders hit the road for Cordova and a match against Edisto, the No. 2 seed in the Lower State. Senior Matthew Johnson, the No. 3 heavyweight in 2A according to scmat.com, was Keenan’s lone individual champion at the Region 4-2A tournament. Anthony Perminter was the runner-up at 160 pounds.
First-year Mid-Carolina has an Upper State road trip to Palmetto on tap. The rookie Rebels star is B.J. Gibbs, who is ranked No. 3 at 215 pounds by scmat.com.
Of all the area first-round entries, Pelion is the only team to have a state win on the resume. The Panthers defeated Marion in their state playoff debut last season before running into title-bound Loris in the second round. Columbia is 0-2, Keenan 0-1 in playoff outings.