David Beck and Jack Duane made their disappointment no secret in the days following Hilton Head High's third straight loss in the team Class 3-A state championship -- this one at the hands of Lugoff-Elgin two weeks ago.
Duane referred to it as unfinished business in the final year of his and Beck's high school career. But they both earned a hefty consolation prize Saturday in the individual championship meet.
Hilton Head High's formidable pair each captured a Class 3-A title in the S.C. High School League Wrestling Individual Championships at Rock Hill High School.
It was Duane's second consecutive individual title at 189 pounds. He defeated Lugoff-Elgin's Max Fowler, 7-5, in the finals matchup, his second win against Fowler in two weeks.
"I was more relieved than anything. You work all season to get back to this point and it's a relief to make it happen," Duane said. "It's like holding your breath under water for a really long time and then finally coming up for air. All that weight off your shoulders."
His senior teammate certainly could relate to that feeling.
Beck's 6-3 win against Bluffton's David Lopez in the 215-pound finals gave him his first career individual title. He finished runner-up in each of the previous two seasons.
The two wrestlers from rival schools were locked in a 3-3 tie in the third period before Beck earned an escape point followed by a late takedown for the three-point advantage.
"I knew I had to be semi-aggressive but I didn't want to do anything that would get me in trouble, and I was able to finish it off," Beck said. "... It was amazing. Indescribable. It feels so good to finally get that first place."
Lopez, on the other hand, was one of three Beaufort County wrestlers forced to settle for second. Hilton Head High's Label Lewis lost 7-5 to J.L. Mann's Oliver Burman in the 103-poundchampionship. And Battery Creek's Matt Heinrich (145) fell 6-5 to top-ranked Joseph Winkler of West Oak.
After entering the event with nine qualifiers -- the most in Class 3-A -- the Bobcats had four wrestlers place at the event. Battery Creek and Hilton Head High each had three. And Beaufort High placed three wrestlers in the Class 4-A meet, also held at Rock Hill.
In addition to Lopez's second, Andrew Dean (189) took third for Bluffton, and Austin Farmer (112) and Phillip Scott (285) took fourth.
But the headline for Bluffton was senior Tyler Rosenlieb's absence in the finals. Rosenlieb, who won the 160-pound state title last season to become Bluffton's first state champion in school history, wrested at 152 pounds Saturday and lost two of his three matches to finish without a place. Rosenlieb competed at 152 pounds earlier this month for the first time since the seventh grade.
"I think being down that low took its toll on him. But I really don't know," Bluffton coach John Hollman said. "I wouldn't be surprised if Ripley's called me tomorrow because this is one of those believe-it-or-not stories. This will always be an unanswered question."
Heinrich finished his career with Battery Creek on a higher note with his second-place medal Saturday, but it wasn't the ending he was hoping for either. A week ago, he guaranteed a state championship victory. Heavyweight David Ratliff placed third and senior Luke Johnson (171) took fourth for the Dolphins.
Beaufort High, which didn't qualify any wrestlers for last year's event, placed three wrestlers Saturday. Alex Amaya (171), Maliek Maldonado (189) and Jerry Johnson (215) each took fourth.
"Placing three of the four we brought -- and all those being first-time qualifiers -- I was pleased with our performance," Beaufort High coach Bill DaMude said. "These guys worked hard during the season and they've progressed quite a bit. Something to build on for next year."
Championship matches Saturday involving Beaufort County wrestlers:
103: Oliver Burman (J.L. Mann) def. Label Lewis (HHH), 7-5.
145: Joseph Winkler (West Oak) def. Matt Heinrich (BC), 6-5.
189: Jack Duane (HHH) def. Max Fowler (Lugoff-Elgin), 7-5.
215: David Beck (HHH) def. David Lopez (Bluffton), 6-3.
Results of the S.C. High School League Wrestling Individual Championships
Battery Creek: Chris Bockelman (103) 1-2; Matt Heinrich (145) 2-1, second; Luke Johnson (171) 2-2, fourth; Bear Childers (215) 0-2; David Ratliff (285) 3-1, third.
Beaufort High: Kenan Jackson (160) 1-2; Alex Amaya (171) 2-2, fourth; Maliek Maldonado (189) 2-2, fourth; Jerry Johnson (215), 2-2, fourth.
Bluffton: Austin Farmer (112) 2-2, fourth; Lincoln Joly (125) 1-2; Josh Wetmore (135) 1-2; Braden Putich (140) 0-2; Tyler Rosenlieb (152) 1-2; Manuel Lopez (160) 1-2; Andrew Dean (189) 3-1; David Lopez (215) 2-1, second; Phillip Scott (285) 2-2, fourth.
Hilton Head High: Label Lewis (103), 2-1, second; Chris Ordonez (130) 1-2; Seth Anthony (135) 0-2; Nic Levy (140) 1-2; Jack Duane (189) 3-0, first; David Beck (215) 3-0, first.