Lexington led a parade of seven Midlands gold medallists at the South Carolina state wrestling tournament on Saturday at the Anderson Civic Center.
The Class 4A state champion Wildcats produced three individual champions, including two-time winners Jackson Myers and Nate Meagher. Andy Szalwinski joined his Lexington teammates atop the awards stand. Lugoff-Elgin’s Jerelle Hannah, White Knoll’s Patton Gossett, Dreher’s Chris Bloch and Brookland-Cayce’s Deonta Patterson round out the Midlands champions list.
Myers capped a perfect, 51-0 season with a 3-0 run at state. The junior star pinned his way to the finals, and beat Bluffton’s Levi Jordan 6-0 in the 113-pound title bout for his second gold medal. He has a chance to become the winningest Wildcat wrestler in history next season and match the three-gold career of Clay Cavanaugh (1992-94). Myers was the winner at 106 a year ago. He had a fourth-place finish at 103 as a freshman.
Meagher scored three decisions on the way to his second straight title at 220, closing the book on a 41-4 season. The senior team leader defeated Lugoff-Elgin’s Allen Jenerette 6-3 in the finale, avenging a loss to the Demons senior in the Lower State championship match the week before. Meagher beat Jenerette in the state semifinals last year. Meagher retires with one team championship on the resume and as one of four multiple individual state champs in program history.
Szalwinski, who was the runner-up at 113 last season as a sophopmore, upgraded his prize with a win at 120 this time by winning three straight decisions – the biggest being a 5-3 win over Fort Mill’s Tyler Turner. Szalwinski closed a memorable season with a sparkling 37-2 record.
Fittingly, Lexington had the area’s top team performance at the tournament. In all, the Wildcats had five state place winners out of nine qualifiers. Senior Brandon Shepherd capped a 46-9 season with a second-place finish at 138 and senior Walker Barfield claimed consolation honors at 145. Shepherd posted a pin and a major decision on the way to the finals, but was pinned in 40 seconds by Austin Farmer of Bluffton in the gold-medal showdown. Barfield showed some character by winning three matches in a row in the consolation bracket after suffering a disappointing first round loss at 145. The rebound effort resulted in a third-place finished with Barfield and a senior season record of 37-4. He earned another bronze medal last year at 138.
Jerelle Hannah, a transfer senior, kept alive a tradition of success for the Lugoff-Elgin program by winning 182-pound honors in his first season as a Demon with a 5-1 win over Stratford’s Noah Shuler in the title match. It capped a 47-7 campaign for Hannah, who was a state champion as a sophomore at 160 pounds in 2010. As the lone L-E champion, he was able to keep alive a remarkable streak – at least one Demon has been crown a state championship at every state tournament since 1994. Moreover, Hannah’s state title win was the 49th by a L-E wrestler, which is, by far, the highest gold medal haul by a Midlands program. Chapin is No. 2 on the list with 35 gold medals earned.
Three of the four L-E qualifiers placed. Jenerette added a silver medal to the bronze prize he earned a year ago. He finished with a 46-4 senior season record. Junior Chris Jackson was fourth at 120, closing with a 41-10 record.
Junior Patton Gossett followed the lead of his older brother, Asa, by winning a heavyweight state championship. Asa Gossett was a 285-pound winner in 2001. Patton matched the achievement with a 3-0 performance, including a first-period pin of York’s Beau Nunn in the finale. He finished with a 30-5 record on the way to becoming the fourth individual state champion in program history.
Chris Bloch added the final touch to an outstanding career by going 3-0 and winning 152-pound honors in Class 3A. In the process, Bloch ended a 15-year gold medal drought at Dreher that has been in place since Chir Etheridge’s 189 triumph in 1998. Bloch’s road to glory was not an easy one. He pulled off a 2-0 decision in the semifinals against Brandon Stumbo and nipped Joseph Desjardins of Myrtle Beach 4-2 in the title bout.
It was a good tournament for the Blue Devils, who had three of their four qualifiers place. Sophomore Keyante Bush (54-10) and senior Derrick Frazier (44-8) were fourth-place finishers at 113 and 120, respectively.
Deonta Patterson turned the tables on Gilbert’s Madison Leitner in the Class 3A 113 finale after falling to the Indians star in the Lower State title match a week earlier. This time, the Bearcats junior prevailed 3-1, denying Leitner a second gold medal. Leitner became Gilbert’s first state champion with a win at 103 in 2A in 2011. Patterson (36-7) became the 10th state champion in B-C mat annals.
It was a mixed bag tournament for Gilbert, which lead all Midlands teams with five state qualifiers in its first season at the 3 level. The Indians also produced three finalists but no winners, leaving Leitner as the only state champion on the books. Seniors Nathan Brazel and Chris Dyer joined Leitner at the silver medal level. It was a bitter decision for Brazel who suffered his first loss in 41 outings to Socastee’s Justin Knipper in the 106 finale. Dyer’s bid at 195 ended with a 5-3 loss to Eastside’s Zach Lake. Brazel and Dyer both retire with two state medals – one silver, one bronze.
Swansea, Columbia and Dutch Fork also had place winners.
Dylan Crossland (38-6) and Devon Johnson (23-12) both went 2-2 to rate fourth-place finishes at 126 and 285, respectively.
Columbia’s Louis Wilson had a good run at 152 pounds in Class 2A before being pinned by Bamberg-Ehrhardt’s Player Long in the title match. It was the second state title for Long. Wilson had a 32-4 sophomore season.
Dutch Fork’s Parker Grizzle, another promising sophomore, had a fourth-place performance at 132 in 4A and finished with a Midlands-best 55 wins (in 61 matches) this season.