Carolina Forest’s wrestlers knew coming into Tuesday night’s quad meet with Aynor, Waccamaw and Lake City that they could set a new single-season wins record.
The Panthers made quick work of their first opponent, Lake City, to tie the record. The Warriors, however, provided a battle.
Carolina Forest climbed out of a 15-point hole and defeated Waccamaw 42-27 for its record 24th win against a Waccamaw team that came into the match as the sixth-best team in the state in Class AA/A.
“These kids have worked real hard,” Panthers coach Will Bratcher said. “They come out and work extremely hard in practice every day. This victory is for them, our school and the past guys. This is a night for the kids to remember for the rest of their lives.”
The win didn’t come easy. The Panthers started by bumping 126-pounder Cody Prince up to 132 to wrestle against Tyler Pettit in the first match. Prince came through with a pin in 1:47.
From there though, the Warriors gained control.
William Summer, Alonzo Trent and Andrew Williams pinned their opponents back-to-back-to-back to give Waccamaw an 18-6 advantage. Then came a highly-contested bout at 160 between the Warriors’ John Van Slooten, ranked first in AA/A at 145 pounds, and the Panthers’ Kory Lindell, ranked third in AAAA at 160.
Van Slooten scored the first points by taking Lindell down midway through the first period. In the second period, Van Slooten chose bottom and reversed Lindell for a 4-0 lead.
“I just knew I had to wrestle my hardest,” Van Slooten said. “I had to watch his strength and use my technique. My entire game plan is to keep my cool and get my points.”
Lindell (38-4) worked his way to his feet and closed within three points. He scored another stand-up point in the third period to close to 4-2. Lindell shot numerous times but was unable to get the take down and dropped the contest 4-2 as Waccamaw took a 21-6 lead.
“It was tough,” Lindell said. “He is No. 9 in the nation at 145. I was just trying to go out there and give it my best. He is one of the best wrestlers I’ve ever wrestled. In the end, I didn’t come out with the win but it made me a little bit better.”
Justin Hucks stopped the bleeding for Carolina Forest as he pinned Colin Floyd in 48 seconds, the Panthers gained the lead of the match with two straight forfeits to go up 24-21, and Kyle Rice extended the lead with a 2-1 decision over Travis Pierce at 220 pounds.
At 285, the Panthers’ Josh Carranza may provided the exclamation point when he upset Matthew Brininger, ranked first in the state at AA/A.
“This is his first year of wrestling,” Bratcher said of his wrestler. “He comes in here every day and gives me everything he’s got. He earned that tonight. All the hard work paid of for him and I couldn’t be happier for the big guy.”
Carranza scored the first points when he took Brininger to the mat. Brininger responded with a take down to go up 3-2. In the second period, Carranza started on bottom and caught Brininger sleeping and reversed him for two points en route to a pin that gave the Panthers a 33-21 lead.
“It means a lot to me,” Carranza said. “My teammates needed me to go out there and give everything I had. We were trying to set a new school record, so me going out there and doing everything I could was a must.”
Carolina Forest went on to win the next two matches – a 7-1 decision for Jeremy Hamm and a pin from Joseph Krajewski – before the Warriors’ Bobby Walters earned a pin to close the match.
“I’m not happy at all,” Waccamaw coach Scott Cook said of the loss. “We’re banged up, but so is everyone else, so that’s not an excuse. We always have that problem of finishing strong. Every year, we come back from Christmas and we don’t finish it off.”
Blue Jackets pin Warriors
Earlier in the night, Aynor picked up a convincing 56-21 win over Waccamaw.
The Blue Jackets picked up six pins in the victory.
Cody Tucker (132) and Caleb McClellan (145) got pins early. Andrew Scruggs added a 12-1 major decision in between those matches as Aynor raced out to a 22-0 lead.
The Warriors’ Andrew Williams and Van Slooten put back-to-back pins together to get the team within 10.
But Daquan Smith and Louis Taylor picked up pins at 170 and 182, respectively, and a forfeit by the Warriors at 195 extended the Blue Jackets’ lead to 40-12. Landon Lawson and Jacob Stacy closed the match out for Aynor with back-to-back pins.