Hilton Head Island will defend its crown, while Beaufort and Whale Branch seek to take the Seahawk Duals title north of the Broad when the tournament’s 12th edition gets underway Thursday.
The Seahawks won their home tournament for the first time a year ago, serving as something of a launch point for a strong run that led to the Class 3A state final, where they succumbed to Eastside for the crown.
They’ll defend this week as the highest-ranked team in the 15-team field, standing No.4 in the latest Class 4A ratings with dual victories over Battery Creek, Beaufort and Summerville. The Seahawks also placed 15th among 47 teams at last week’s Coastal Clash in North Charleston.
“We wrestle a lot of tournaments over the break,” Seahawks coach Mike Newton said. “I’ve found that we get more effort out of the kids when they’re competing, rather than just practicing for 10 days straight.”
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Beaufort is one spot behind the Seahawks in the rankings, having placed 19th at the Coastal Clash. Whale Branch is 18th in the Class 2A/1A rankings.
Rankings, though, may not hold quite so much meaning during holiday tournaments.
“A lot of times, teams aren’t going to have their best lineups out there,” Newton said. “I know we’re going to miss a couple of guys that are on vacation. Every team is going to be dealing with that.”
A pair of out-of-state teams could provide the toughest challenge. North Marion (W.Va.) was runner-up to the Seahawks a year ago, while Wisconsin’s Whitnall High is making its second holiday visit to the Lowcountry.
“They have a (concessions) booth for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball games, and I guess they make good money doing that,” Newton said. “It lets them travel somewhere nice during the season.”
Beaufort and Whale Branch will wrestle in Thursday’s 11 a.m. early session, along with the Eagles’ and Seahawks’ B squads. Hilton Head takes the mat starting at 4 p.m.
Friday’s competition begins at 9 a.m. for the lower seven teams in the standings, followed by the eight championship-bracket teams starting at 2 p.m. Admission is $7 each day.