Lexington senior Kraig Crawford pinned Rock Hill’s Josh Tuck in the Class 4A 171-pound championship match to bring an end the Wildcats’ nine-year state title drought.
Crawford, to the delight of the large contingent of Wildcats fans in the packed house at the new Lexington gymnasium, rallied to victory in the second period after trailing his Bearcats rival 5-2. In one swift move, Crawford pulled off a reversal, put Tuck on his back and pinned him with 44 seconds left in the second period.
In doing so, Crawford finished his senior season with a 55-2 record, and his career at 133-20. In the process of avenging his loss in the 171 finals a year ago, the Wildcats leader became the school’s first state champion since Brian Dawson prevailed at 171 in 2000. He is the ninth state champion in school history. Crawford’s dominant state tournament performance also included a technical fall win in the first round and a 12-2 decision in the semifinals against Irmo freshman T.J. Dudley.
Three other Wildcats came away with place finishes. Hampton Motley was second at 125, Steven Steinbacher was the consolation champ at 103 and sophomore Alex Morales was fourth at 160.
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Motley dropped a wild 13-11 decision to Fort Mill’s Brandon Feix, who was a state champion at 103 as a freshman in 2006, in the finals. Feix had a decisive 3-2 edge in the third period. Motley finished with a 45-4 senior record and a 141-41 career mark.
Steinbacher stormed back from a disappointing semifinal loss to claim the bronze medal, courtesy of a 6-3 win vs. Stratford’s Christian DeJesus in the consolation finale. The sophomore standout finished with a 49-7 season record.
Morales had to settle for fourth-place finish after going 2-2 at 160. The rising sophomore star suffered a bitter 4-3 overtime loss to South Pointe’s Eddy George in the semifinals. Morales closed at 49-8 this season and already has 79 varsity victories on the books.
Otherwise, senior Zach Howerton (24-4) went 1-2 at 152, and freshmen Steven Licina (32-21 at 112) and Scott Tyndall (21-21 at 119) both were 0-2 in their first state appearances.
“We finished the dual season strong with a great showing in the playoffs, qualified seven out of the Lower State, the second most to FortDorchester),” said Lexington coach Derek Stroble in a season-ending statement.“With five state qualifiers with three of them being state placers give us a good base to work with next year.”
Here are the final season records for the rest of Lexington’s varsity regulars in 2008-09: sophomore Josh Heape (21-15 at 130, region runner Up, junior Terry Holthausen (32-22), freshman Caleb Brack (8-21 at 140), junior Payne Ivie (8-25 at 145), junior Brock Baxley (7-9 at 189), senior Steven Dorrell (49-6 at 215) and junior Derrick Eden (17-13 at 285).