Irmo sophomore T.J. Dudley capped an outstanding season by winning the Class 4A 171-pound state championship at last weekend’s big-school state wrestling tournament in Rock Hill.
As a team the Yellow Jackets surprisingly stole the local show at the season finale, earning 45.5 team points to lead all Midlands entries. Irmo finished in seventh place, one spot in the standings and 5.5 point in front of Lexington.
Dudley concluded his title run by mastering White Knoll’s Phillip Austin 7-0 in an all-Midlands title bout. Dudley managed no pins, but he did not yield a single point on the road to glory. He defeated Rock Hill’s Jonathan Schavey 5-0 in the first round before humbling Caleb Riddle of Hillcrest 15-0 in the semifinals.
In the process, Dudley, who was a fourth-place finisher at 171 a year ago, became Irmo’s 26th state champion while earning the 28th state tournament gold medal in program history. With two years left in his career, Dudley has the chance to become the school’s fourth multiple state winner. He also has the opportunity to become Irmo’s first three-time state champion.
Steve Jacobs (1978-79), Aaron Strobel (1991-92) and C.J. Frye (1998-99) are Irmo’s previous multiple state champions.
But Dudley was not the only story. Yellow Jackets teammates Kyle Manross, Aaron Bell and Louis Biles all contributed to strong team showing at state.
Manross and Bell emerged with place finishes, and Biles chipped in one win at 103 pounds. Manross, a runner-up at 119 last season, did not make it back to the finals, but he did go 3-1 to secure consolation honors at 130. Bell went 2-2 and finished fourth at 145.
Manross showed some heart by coming back to place third after dropping a bitter 3-2 semifinal decision to eventual state champion Seth Beck of Rock Hill. Instead of sulking, Manross took out his frustration on his consolation bracket opponents – pinning Tyquain English to Dorman to assure a place finish and beat local rival Collin Studemeyer of Dutch Fork 7-1 in the consolation finale.