Lugoff-Elgin’s already impressive Class 4A state wrestling playoff debut took on a bit more luster on Monday night.
Evan Moxie’s Demons, ranked No. 3 by scmat.com, defeated inveterate powerhouse Rock Hill 30-24 in third-round action to advance to Wednesday’s Upper State championship match at home against top-ranked Hillcrest.
“Any time you beat Rock Hill in the playoffs, it’s a big win,” said Moxie, who led L-E to the 3A state title in his first season at the helm.“I told the boys that they can enjoy this for about 30 seconds, and then it’s time to start focusing on Wednesday. This match was a tough one, and Hillcrest will be even tougher.”
Lugoff-Elgin (23-4) set the tone early, winning five of the first six matches to jump out to a somewhat surprising 18-6 lead. The quick start featured decisions by David Osteen (140), Parker Singleton (145), Cory Edenfield (152) and Zach Connell (189), and a pin by Will Connell at 171.
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“Things didn’t go the way we expected, especially early in the match," said Rock Hill coach Cain Beard.
“We felt we had a great chance to win at 140 and 152, if only because we got wins with those match-ups earlier in the season. But sometimes things just don’t work out quite the way you expect.”
Osteen broke open the 140 opener against Bishop Ashley with a five-point move (takedown, plus back points) in the second period. Edenfield bolted to a 6-1 lead in the first period against Austin Lee, but needed an escape and a subsequent takedown to settle the matter in the third.
The Bearcats, who finished 26-4, made a move at 215 and 285, cutting the Demon lead to 18-12. The big verdict was at 215 where Terrence Adams shocked L-E’s undefeated Theo Shepard, 10-7. Thomas Perry then nipped Allen Jenerette at heavyweight, 4-3.
But L-E responded quickly with wins by Lake Stephens (103), Chris Jackson (112) and Chris Renfroe (119). Renfroe’s pin, in fact, increased the lead to 30-12 to put the Bearcats in a precarious position – needing pins in the final three bouts to tie the score and require a criteria decision.
Rock Hill, indeed, won the final three pairings, but managed just one pin. Demon Tony Murphy lost to Justin Collins 7-2 in overtime at 125, but by avoiding a pin he clinched the decision for L-E.
“We feel we have a well balanced lineup, but tonight our guys in the lighter weights really stepped up,” said Moxie. “Chris Renfroe’s pin turned out to be huge for us, because it pretty much kept us from having to wrestle the Becks with the match still on the line.”