The state wrestling playoffs begin Wednesday in the Class 3A and 2A divisions. Class 4A action begins on Saturday.
Region 5 champion Chapin opens with a 3A first-round home match against North Myrtle Beach. The Eagles, ranked No. 2 by scmat.com, sports a 22-2 record and went though the region season with a 5-0 record.
Dreher is the other Midland entry in 3A. The Blue Devils (23-10) hit the road to take on Region 7 champion St. James. Jason Sandifer’s improved team finished second in Region 5 behind champion with a 4-1 conference mark, won the Eagle Duals tournament was finished in eight place at its own Blue Devil Invitational.
Derrick Frazier (112), Sheldon Melvin (125), William Bloch and Giovanni Dwight (189) were the Blue Devils’ individual region champions, while Chris Bloch (135), Devante Anderson (152) and Chris Green (215) earned runner-up honors.
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Second round matches are set for Monday.
Five Midlands teams made the cut in Class 2A with the highlight being a Region 3 rematch between Eau Claire and Columbia. Elsewhere, Gilbert hosts Palmetto, Swansea travels to Timberland and Swansea is at Lake City.
Swansea, a young team, carries an 11-12 record in the playoffs.
Columbia, which shared the Region 3 championship with Gilbert, enters the playoffs with a 17-6 record and is seeded third in the Upper State bracket. The Capitals split the two region matches, both of which were decided by two-point margins.
“Our season has been a successful one so far,” said Capitals coach Joe Lovier.
“We have done well at tournaments, third in the Cardinal Newman Holiday Tournament and second in the Airport Duals. Our team is lead by some strong individuals.”
Juniors Randy Medina and Nate Harper are the standouts. Medina is 31-1 at 125 and 130, while Harper is 24-4 at 140 and, according to Lovier, is the best technical wrestler on our team.
Otherwise, Senior DaVonne Montgomery (135) started slow but has turned the corner towards the second half of the season, while senior Anthony Thompson (145), junior William Childs (152), newcomer Freddy Strother (160), sophomore Shelton Canzater (189) and heavyweight Davonte Graham have all made significant contributions to the team’s success.