Michael Meyerink couldn't find enough people to hug.
The Bluffton High School senior had taken the mat moments earlier for one final home match, his team trailing by four to rival Beaufort High. And his Bobcats were in need of his help once more, with bonus points being their only chance at a victory and a third-place finish in Region 8-AAAA.
Meyerink, as he has done for four years now, delivered again. The 170-pounder earned a first-period pin over A.J. Smalls in the final weight class of the night, sending the Bluffton bench into a frenzy and his team to a 33-31 win over the Eagles.
"That was probably the most heart-pumping match of my life," he said, gasping for air.
Never miss a local story.
Beaufort High seemed poised to steal a road win on Bluffton's senior night when William Spann's 10-5 decision over Khadeil Ergas at 126 gave the Eagles a 28-6 advantage with six matches to wrestle. But, as has been its problem for much of this season, Beaufort High could not avoid the pin as the match grew longer and the Bobcats mounted their rally.
Lloyd Williams (132), Evan Placke (138) and Tommy Heslin (152) all earned pins to help mount the Bluffton comeback.
"We've got some kids who cannot stay off their back," Beaufort High coach Bill Damude said. "We knew it was going to be tight, and when you give up pins to the other team it's hard to recover from those. That was the difference in the match."
The matches the Eagles did take weren't enough help. Beaufort High -- which finished fourth in the region with the loss -- had just two pins out of its eight victories, giving Bluffton life in the process.
"We needed a lot of the unsung guys," Bluffton coach John Hollman said. "You look at all of the guys for us that lost who didn't give up pins. That's what won us the match and those are the guys who deserve the credit, too."
Their efforts were rewarded on Meyerink's pin. The three-time state qualifier took down Smalls just 59 seconds into his match, using single-leg attacks to put him on his backside after spending the first few moments feeling him out.
"It's probably one of the happiest moments I could probably have," Meyerink said. "Just like winning states as a senior. Just being able to see how all of my teammates came through and gave it everything they had, and me sealing it up."
Hollman never had any doubt. After all, Meyerink has done this for four years now.
"There's no word that sums up Mike Meyerink more than being a warrior," he said. "He relishes that. The look in his eyes, the way he comes storming out there to the mat.
"We viewed it as inevitable."
Bluffton 33, Beaufort High 31
Note: Match started at 182 pounds
106: Kameron Spann (BFT) dec. Kaden Seitz, 6-0
113: Tremone Jenkins (BFT) dec. Javier Lopez, 12-11
120: Jake Sharp (BFT) maj. dec. Buddy Drew, 11-2
126: William Spann (BFT) dec. Khadeil Ergas, 10-5
132: Lloyd Williams (BLF) pinned Jay Hawley, 2nd period
138: Evan Placke (BLF) pinned Brahm Gideon, 1st period
145: Talon Seitz (BLF) dec. William Vallentin, 4-1
152: Tommy Heslin (BLF) pinned D.J. Singleton, 1st period
160: Brian Lentz (BFT) dec. Brandon Johnson, 2-0
170: Michael Meyerink (BLF) pinned A.J. Smalls, 1st period
182: Eric Blakely (BFT) pinned Joey Catalano, 1st period
195: Zaid Rueda (BLF) pinned Luiz Bermudez, 2nd period
220: Mitchell Nestler (BFT) dec. Andres Nava, 7-3
285: Kentrell Seabrook (BFT) pinned Josh Darrell, 1st period