The long wait is finally over. Lugoff-Elgin earned the right to wrestle in the Class 3A state championship match for the first time in seven years on Wednesday, downing Region 4-3A archrival Chapin 34-22 in the Upper State finals.
“I am very excited to have this prestigious program back in the state finals,” said first-year Demons coach Evan Moxey. “We have been working towards this all year long and want finish up with one last win.”
Lugoff-Elgin, 20-3 and ranked No. 1 by scmat.com, will square off against Hilton Head (33-6 and ranked No. 6) in Saturday’s title bout at Ridge View. The Demons rose to the top spot in the 3A poll by handing Hilton Head a 38-21 setback at the Battery Creek Duals in January.
The Demons, who defeated Carolina Forest 58-20 in 2003 in its last state championship match appearance, is 5-3 in title showdowns since 3A switched to a dual match format in 1995. L-E had two runner-up efforts during the classic state tournament era. For the record, the Demons sport an all-time 45-11 record in the state dual match playoffs. L-E’s win over Chapin last night gave the Demons the highest playoff win total in 3A history and the third best total in all classifications behind 4A heavyweights Rock Hill and Summerville.
L-E got off to a fast start vs. Chapin, winning the first four matches for a 13-0 lead. The Eagles never quite recovered. Will Connell’s 14-3 major decision at 171 got things rolling. Max Fowler (215), Theo Shepard (215) and Cody Humphries (285) followed with three-point decisions.
Chapin won four of the next six match-ups to pull within 21-18 with four bouts to go, but Demons Alonzo Grant and Jacob Burr made the outcome academic with back-to-back triumphs at 140 and 145. Grant scored a 17-6 major decision at 140, and Burr added a clinching pin at 145.
“It really came down to a couple of weight classes where I really thought that it could have gone either way,” said Moxey. “I knew fairly early in the match that it was going to be a tight one and I just had to keep the guys focused on going out and doing what needed to be done.”
T.J. Branham’s win at 119, Tony Murphy’s technical fall at 125 and Stephen Bonaparte’s decision at 160 accounted for the rest of the L-E scoring.
Chapin received pins by Russell Smigelski (103) and Nate Polly (130), a major decision from Scott Swindell (152) and decisions by Stuart Hope (112) and Chase Owens (135).
The Eagles, ranked No. 3, closed the dual match campaign with a 33-3 record.