The Hilton Head Island High School wrestling team didn't have the season it was hoping for this year, but the Seahawks are looking toward Saturday's individual tournament with a renewed sense of optimism.
"That's what we've been looking for the latter part of the season," coach Keith Massey said. "We're making sure our individuals are getting better and better every day."
Hilton Head High will host the Region 7-AAA individual tournament Saturday, beginning at 11:30 a.m., with the goal of sending most of its wrestlers to Lower State.
Massey believes Label Lewis at 120 pounds, Chris Ordonez at 126 pounds and Nick Bautista at 195 pounds all have a shot to claim region titles for the Seahawks. He also thinks that Tyler Thick (113), Brock Massey (132) and Doug Bell (220) have a shot to qualify for Lower State. The top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify.
"All of our wrestlers are looking toward qualifying for Lower State," Massey said. "That's the goal for them."
Region champion Bluffton and runner-up Cane Bay will field strong tournament lineups. The Bobcats feature Mike Meyerink, last year's all-region champion at 135 pounds, and Austin Farmer, who is ranked No. 3 at 132. Meyerink, Farmer and Levi Joly will be No. 1 seeds in their respective weight classes.
Battery Creek will be led by David Ratliff -- the top-ranked heavyweight in Class 3-A and defending state champion -- and Chris Bockelman, who won last year's region title at 103.
"To watch these guys wrestle is always a pleasure," Massey said of the Seahawks' region foes. "I'm looking forward to going up against the guys at Bluffton and Cane Bay, who got first and second in our region.
"Obviously, the individuals that Battery Creek and Berkeley are bringing are going to be quite a challenge."
Region 7-AAA Wrestling Tournament
What: Individual wrestling tournament, including Hilton Head High, Bluffton and Battery Creek.
Where: Hilton Head High gymnasium
When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday
Notes: Winner from each weight class named all-region, top four from each weight class advance to Lower State.