After their team run ended with a loss in the third round of the state duals tournament, Beaufort High School's wrestlers have another chance in the postseason.
Ten Eagles qualified for the Class 4-A Lower State individual meet -- which starts today at Lugoff-Elgin -- four by winning Region 8-AAAA championships. Three Beaufort High wrestlers -- Tyler Wilson, Clint Wright and Codrian Smalls -- enter as No. 1 seeds in their respective brackets.
"My predictions are between five and eight have a very good shot at making it to the (state) tournament," Beaufort High coach Bill Damude said. "... For them, this is a chance to achieve the goals they set for themselves."
Damude knows who his wrestlers will face the first two rounds. Wrestlers have worked on particular moves based on who they think they might face in the double-elimination meet. The first two rounds will be held today, with the championship rounds on Saturday.
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Damude said his senior Smalls, region champion at 182, will have to fight through a loaded bracket.
At the Class 3-A Lower State meet at St. James, Hilton Head Island High is looking to rebound from a disappointing finish to the team portion of the season, when the Seahawks were eliminated from the duals tournament by Socastee.
How the group responds from that finish will be key, coach Mike Newton said.
"That four-hour bus ride home from Socastee on that Saturday, that wasn't a fun ride home," he said. "That Monday practice on Feb. 4, where you've got two full weeks of practice, it's rough. Almost every team in the state has to deal with that. ... It's not like we have special circumstances from any other schools. It's just a matter of getting your guys focused and hungry."
The finish aside, Newton likes where his team is. The group has "had a real good two weeks of practice," he said.
Top-ranked Label Lewis, who won a state championship in 2011, should walk home with a Lower State title this weekend at 138 pounds, Newton said. J.C. Graham is seeded third at 195, but is undefeated against Class 3-A competition this year while Brock Massey is a No. 2 seed at 126 and also could bring home a title. Newton is shooting for six of his Seahawks to qualify for the state tournament among its nine wrestlers.
The 10th wrestler, Dorsey Bradford at 220, will not wrestle after undergoing surgery.
Bluffton, meanwhile, will take nine wrestlers to the Class 4-A Lower State tournament at Lugoff-Elgin High School. Coach John Hollman's Bobcats are led by Levi Joly at 113, who earned a region championship at Ashley Ridge after pinning Fort Dorchester's Tyre Wright. Joly, who is second all-time in career wins at Bluffton behind Tyler Rosenlieb, finished third at the state tournament last season.
Austin Farmer, who has placed at state in each of the last three seasons, should again be in place to win a title this year. The senior is ranked No. 1 at 138 by scmat.com after finishing fourth at 132 last season.
Junior Michael Meyerink (152), a two-time state qualifier, Nick Stead (106), Eddie Salvador (120), Khadeil Ergas (126) and Harry Chirinos (160) also will take the mat this weekend for the Bobcats. Freshman Talon Seitz, who is ranked No. 5 at 126, will compete for the first time in the postseason.
Wrestlers from Battery Creek High School and Whale Branch Early College High School will travel to the Class 2-A/1-A Lower State meet at Edisto. The class doesn't pare down qualifiers. The top four from each class at Lower State advance to the state meet in Anderson.
Battery Creek coach Nathan Day, who is out of town on a college visit with his son, said the Dolphins hope to qualify five for state.
"When you get to this weekend, the pins aren't as important as advancing to the next round," Day said. "It's just a matter of trying to win the close matches."
Lower State wrestling qualifiers
Class 4-A, at Lugoff-Elgin High School
Region champions: Tyler Wilson (285), Kentrell Seabrook (220), Clint Wright (195), Codrian Smalls (182)
Other qualifiers: Jake Sharp (106), William Spann (113), Forrest Kimbrell (145), Michael Holmes (152), Trey Arant (160), Eric Blakeley (170)
Region champion: Levi Joly (113)
Other qualifiers: Nick Stead (106), Eddie Salvador (120), Khadeil Ergas (126), Talon Seitz (132), Austin Farmer (138), Mike Meyerink (152), Harry Chirinos (160)
Class 3-A, at St. James High School
Hilton Head High
Region champions: Matt Levy (106), Label Lewis (132), J.C. Graham (195)
Other qualifiers: Tyler Fick (113), Brock Massey (126), Hunter Massey (138), Trevon Rawls (152), Martin Duane (160), Dorsey Bradford (220), Romario Lopez (285)
Class 2-A/1-A, at Edisto High School
All Battery Creek and Whale Branch wrestlers can compete