Seven years of frustration for the proud wrestling program at Lugoff-Elgin came to an emphatic end on Wednesday at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High.
The Demons decisively defeated Hilton Head, 40-17, to secure their first state championship since 2003. L-E suffered its quickest playoff exit in 2009 after a frustrating sting of five straight losses to Eastside in the Upper State finals.
But that championship feeling has returned.
“We’re still pumped up around here,” said first-year coach Evan Moxey on Thursday.
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“I must say that the main reason that we won this state championship is because we are so balanced as a team. No matter what weight you look at we are good and that is why we are state champions."
The Demons set the tone with Stephen Boneparte and Will Connell opened the major with bonus-point wins at 160 and 171 pounds, respectively. Boneparte got things going with a major decision, followed by Connell’s technical fall. The next two weight proved key for L-E. Hilton Head stars Jack Duane and David Beck, as expected, won at 189 and 215, but Demons Max Fowler and Theo Shepard kept the damage to a minimum. Duane beat Fowler 12-7, while Shepard pushed Beck to the limit before falling 8-7.
“My kids (Fowler and Shepard) were not happy with the loses to Duane and Beck, but only giving up decisions was almost as good as a victory in a dual match,” said Moxey.
L-E then turned the showdown into a rout by winning seven of the final 10 bouts. The haul included decisions by Jonathan McManus (285), Tony Murphy (125) and Parker Singleton (135), a major decision by TJ Branham (119) and pins by Chris Renfro (112), Alonzo Grant (140) and Will Meyers (152).
“Our lighter weights really stepped up and pushed us to a state championship,” said Moxey.
For the record, Lugoff-Elgin now has six state championships on the books. The Demons bagged their first five titles during a run of seven straight championship match appearances between 1997 and 2003. L-E’s state dual match record is 46-11 since the format was initiated in 1994. L-E is No. 1 in state playoff wins among all 3A schools and is third overall behind only 4A heavies Rock Hill (57) and Summerville (55).