Irmo’s T.J. Dudley was the individual headliner and Lexington stole the show in team matters, but there were other performances of note by Midlands entries at the Class 4A traditional state wrestling tournament last weekend in Anderson.
Zach Connell of Lugoff-Elgin, Jamal Lackey of White Knoll and Dudley teammate Brandon Corley also concluded their respective careers with successful state title runs.
Of the three, Connell was under the most pressure. As the fourth and final Connell brother, Zach had family tradition to uphold and he came though by winning at 182 pounds. He finished with a 42-3 season record and a 104-15 career mark, and his state win was the eighth for the family and the 48th in L-E history. He can also breathe easy: he won’t be the only Connell brother to fail to win a state title.
Connell opened with a quick pin of Ashley Ridge’s Joseph Pringle, followed with a technical fall in the semifinals against Noah Shuler of Stratford and beat White Knoll’s Jake Beckett 7-0 in the finale.
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Lackey backed up his 145 title of a year ago with a triumph at 160 this time. Lackey pinned his way to the final, and beat Trey Arant of Beaufort 19-12 for his second gold medal. The Timberwolves standout retires with a 159-20 career record and three state place finishes. In addition to his two titles, Lackey was a consolation champ at 135 as a sophomore.
Corley was ranked No. 1 at 170 pounds by scmat.com, and he lived up to the billing while securing his first state title. Corley (47-2 as a senior, 111-38 during his career) pinned Jaclay Mixon of Beaufort in the first round, defeated Xavier Sierra of Ashley Ridge 15-7 in the semifinals and topped Wando’s Antwon Wright 6-2 in the title bout.
The last time Irmo had multiple champions was in 1999, courtesy of C.J. Frye (285) and Jordan Hammond (145).
Another Midlands highlight was the third-place finish at 220 by Lugoff-Elgin junior Allen Jenerette, who finished with a 45-8 record.
The big disappointment was the fourth-place finish by White Knoll heavyweight Asa Gossett, who was the defending 285 champ. Gossett was pinned in the semifinals by unbeaten John Michael Pritchett of Wren and was pinned in the consolation final by Mitchell Jeter of Rock Hill. He finished with a 53-7 season record and a 155-23 career mark.