Dutch Fork, ranked No. 7 in Class 4A wrestling by scmat.com, turned in a strong early-season performance at last weekend’s Palmetto State Classic tournament at Irmo. The Silver Foxes finished second behind defending state runner-up Fort Dorchester in the final tabulations by a 179-168 margin.
Six DF wrestlers had place finishes at the high-profile event with senior Marshall Williams leading the way. Williams, the defending 4A state heavyweight champion, rolled to the 285-pound tournament title with three straight pins. Williams disposed of Wando’s John Ellwood in the first period, pinned Lugoff-Elgin’s John McManus in the second period in the semifinals and planted Fort Dorchester’s Michael Sellers in 38 seconds in the title bout. Williams posted a 52-2 record last season.
Otherwise, Austin Koon (160) and John Brannigan (140) had second-place finishes, Sam Grosse (112) and Zach Bregovi (152) were consolation champs and A.J. Finley took fourth place at 125.
Koon, a sophomore, advanced to the finals with two early round pins and a 9-3 decision in the semifinals against Fort Dorchester’s Alex Bugain, a 2009 state qualifier. He fell 13-7 in the finals to Summerville’s Matt Pantone.
Brannigan, a senior who rang up a 44-11 record last season, also faltered in the finals, dropping a 6-2 decision vs. Fort Dorchester’s Ashley Braceklein – a three-time state state place finisher. Brannigan topped Manako Peay of Nation Ford, Thomas Perkins of Lugoff-Elgin and Columbia’s Nate Harper on the way to the finals.
Groose, who won five of six bout at the tournament, went 4-0 in the consolation bracket after suffering a quarterfinal round loss to Brent Barfield of Fort Dorchester. Groose gain a measure of revenge by beating Barfield in the third-place finale when Barfield was disqualified.
Bregovi rebounded from a semifinal loss to Fort Dorchester star Seiji Borja, a two-time state champion, to go 2-0 in the consolation bracket to finish 4-1 at the tournament. Bregovi pinned Lugoff-Elgin’s Will Myers to assure himself of a place finish, and claimed consolation honors by pinning Summerville’s Stephen Windham in the third-place finale.
Finley, who had 30 wins as a sophomore at 112 last season, went 4-2 at his new weight, losing both times to Lugoff-Elgin’s Tony Murphy.
Tanner Wannish (3-2 at 145), Aaron Seigel (3-2 at 189) and Cameron Heller (2-2 at 215) all made major contributions to the Dutch Fork team score. All three, however, were kept from having place finishes by losses in the consolation semifinals.