Caleb Weaver texted his dad, Jeff, on Friday to share in his apprehension.
The Battery Creek High School wrestler felt Saturday's Class 2-A/1-A Lower State wrestling final on the Dolphins' home mat would come down to his match.
" 'I don't want it to happen; I'm scared, nervous,' " Weaver remembers texting his dad. "He kind of coached me on it for a while -- 'just calm down, think about the match before going to bed, just calm.' "
Whatever calm Weaver allowed himself probably had melted by the time he stepped on the mat with Aynor's Jacob Stacy in the 132-pound bout. Weaver, ranked No. 5 in Class 2-A/1-A at 132, had never wrestled seventh-ranked Stacy.
Weaver fought off his back to stay in the match down a point entering the third period. With a reversal and two back points the final two minutes, he defeated Stacy 12-11, earning three points for the decision and setting the stage for teammate Brian LaBean in the final bout.
LaBean's first-period pin of Christian Alford ignited the Battery Creek supporters, which included a reunion of as many of the program's former wrestlers that coach Nathan Day could find.
Battery Creek won 32-25, advancing to face Liberty on Feb. 15 at Dreher High School in Columbia. The Lower State duals title is the Dolphins' first since 1996, part of a streak of three consecutive state championships.
The Dolphins reached the final Saturday by defeating Waccamaw and Marion. They trailed Aynor 27-23 before Weaver's victory. If Stacy won, the Blue Jackets could forfeit the final bout and win by a point.
Once Weaver won, top-ranked LaBean was matched up against the fourth-ranked Alford.
"Not like without a doubt we were going to win," Day said. "But when Brian goes out there... you felt like he was going to seal the deal."
Joseph Cuevas added a pin for the Dolphins at 113. Omar Daniels' major decision at 106 gave Battery Creek a sweep of the lightest classes, where Aynor coach John Morello thought the Blue Jackets needed a split to win.
"We had to win all the matches we thought on paper we could win," Morello said.
Host Battery Creek defeated Aynor by a point when the teams met at Hilton Head Island High School's tournament over the holiday break. The Dolphins lost to Liberty at Battery Creek's tournament, a match decided by the final bout.
A healthy Battery Creek team fielded its first full lineup of the season for Saturday's Lower State tournament, which included 11 teams.
Whale Branch, with only eight wrestlers, lost 59-30 to Lake City in the opening round. Chris Cann won with a first-period pin at 120, and Stephon Eugene delivered a second-period pin at 195 for the Warriors.
Battery Creek got five pins while defeating Marion 45-24 in the semifinal. The Dolphins knew the final would be tougher.
Porter Mahan, the second-ranked wrestler at 145, swapped with Tyler Muterspaugh at 152 for the final match. The pair had been introduced in the classes Morello and the Jackets expected them to wrestle before Muterspaugh checked in at 145.
Muterspaugh, who was ranked sixth at 152, dropped to 145 and opened the final with a decision. Mahan followed with a decision over Kamron Johnson at 152.
The sophomore had beaten Johnson by a larger margin earlier in the season but wanted to be sure to secure the points.
"You can push and try to pin the guy and get yourself pinned," Mahan said. "We couldn't afford that. I had to get three points, four points, six points -- anything. Just had to win."
Class 2-A/1-A Lower State duals championship
Battery Creek 32, Aynor 25
Note: Match started at 145
106: Omar Daniels (BC) major dec. Hunter Johnson, 11-2
113: Joseph Cuevas (BC) pinned Hunter Jones, second period
120: Landon Lawson (A) dec. Desmon Mullen, 6-4
126: Skyler Roberts (A) major dec. Diontre Delaney, 14-4
132: Caleb Weaver (BC) dec. Jacob Stacy, 12-11
138: Brian LaBean (BC) pinned Christian Alford, first period
145: Tyler Muterspaugh (BC) dec. Cody Tucker, 6-4
152: Porter Mahan (BC) dec. Kamron Johnson, 3-0
160: Malik Morgan (BC) dec. Jalen Dixon, 7-4
170: Daquan Smith (A) pinned Craig Truett, first period
182: TJ Fox (A) dec. Cooper Kaminsky, 3-2
195: Isaiah Sloan (BC) major dec. Louis Taylor, 10-2
220: Dequinnen Nash (A), tech fall Alex Nelson, 15-0
285: Wyatt McCrackin (A) pinned Jonathan Wright, third period