Midlands wrestling had a solid showing at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament last weekend in Anderson.
In all, 17 local entries came away with place finishes, five state champions were crown and four area teams crack the Top 10 in the tournament point standings.
The biggest story of all was the 171-pound championship bout, which saw Will Connell of Lugoff-Elgin beat Lexington’s Alex Morales in a battle of blue-chip seniors. Connell, a state champion and a runner-up at the 3A level, stunned the defending 4A champion with a pin just 30 seconds into the title bout.
Connell closed with a 24-0 record, while Morales checked out at 57-3.
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Irmo’s Tim Dudley also capped an undefeated season with a state title. The Yellow Jackets junior star beat Rock Hill’s Jonathan Schavey 10-0 in the 189-pound finale to set his 2010-11 mark at 45-0.
Dudley, who claimed 171 pound honors last season after a fourth-place finish at the same weight as a freshman in 2009, has a 92-2 record with 69 pins over the last two seasons.
White Knoll and Sumter also made headlines.
White Knoll produced multiple state champions and state finalists for the first time, and finished second in the team standings with 69.5 points. Jamal Lackey and Asa Gossett emerged as state champions – giving the Timberwolves two state winners in the same year for the first time. Zack Dicus added to the bonanza with a runner-up finish, giving WK three finalists for the first time.
Lackey, who was the consolation winner at 135 last season, rolled to the 145 title with two pins and a 10-6 win in the finale vs. Nick Devita of Hillcrest. Lackey finished with a 55-5 record. Gossett also secured his first state title with a win in the final against a Hil,lcrest foe – C.J. Barksdale. Gossett’s gold medal was earned via three tight decisions, including 2-1 wins in the semifinals and finals. Gossett closed with a 52-4 mark.
Dicus (47-12) dropped an 8-0 decision to Fort Dorchester’s Daquon Wilson in the 152-pound finale. Wilson defeated Dicus for Lower State honors the week before.
Sumter’s Matt Devine ended a 14-year title draught by rolling to 140-pound honors. Devine, who finished with a 46-4 record, defeated Hillcrest’s Chris Higgins, 6-1, in the title bout.
One big surprise was the failure of Lugoff-Elgin’s Theo Shepard to place at 215 pounds. Shepard entered state ranked No. 1 and with a 42-1 record. But he was pinned in the semifinals by title-bound Maliek Maldonado of Beaufort was denied a place finish with a loss to Preston Pickens of Hillcrest. Pickens hand Shepard his first loss in the Upper State championship match – a key verdict in the Rams tight win.
Lugoff-Elgin (5th, 51 points), Sumter (T-8th, 47) and Irmo (10th, 44) joined White Knoll in the Top 10. Lexington finished 11th with 35 points.
The rest of the Midlands place winners include White Knoll’s Phillip Austin (4th, 189 pounds, 52-8 season record); Jackson Myers (4th, 103, 46-14) and Russell Taylor (4th, 119, 44-16) of Lexington; Aaron Bell (3rd, 152, 25-9) and Brandon Corley (4th, 160, 39-16) of Irmo; A.J. Finley (4th, 130) and Colin Studemeyer (3rd, 140) of Dutch Fork; Tony Murphy (4th, 125, 47-8) and Zach Connell (3rd, 189, 38-4) of Lugoff-Elgin; Hayden Raabe (4th, 145, 47-7) and Koree Pollard (3rd, 285, 31-10) of Sumter.