There will be no three-peat for the Battery Creek wrestling team.
The two-time defending state champion Dolphins lost a heartbreaking Lower State Championship 37-35 on Saturday to Marion at Battery Creek High School.
Winning 35-31 heading into the final's last match, the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Dolphins had to forfeit the 120-pound match because they had no wrestler to take the mat, giving the championship to the Swamp Foxes.
"It's a tough one to take, to come so close," Battery Creek head coach Nathan Day said. "A loss somewhere instead of a pin and we win."
The hole at 120 was a result of a move to get the best score the Dolphins could from the 120-, 126- and 132-pound weight classes.
Day wrestled Omar Daniels up a class at 132, and moved Tyrus Singleton from 120 to 126 to keep Marion from wrestling one of its top guys against one of the Dolphins' least experienced wrestlers.
Though the final outcome was a loss, the move worked. Even with the forfeit at 120, the Dolphins won the three classes combined by a score of 11-6, thanks to a pin by Singleton and a technical fall by Daniels.
But it was pins elsewhere that doomed the Dolphins.
It looked like Battery Creek had the momentum when back-to-back pins by Cooper Kaminsky (220 pounds) and Michael Selby (285) gave the Dolphins a 35-25 lead with three matches to go.
But Tommy Bearden suffered a first-period pin at 106 and Nate Torres was pinned in the second at 113, leaving just the match at 120.
"Tommy and Nate got pinned by those guys last time," Day said. "I knew it was going to be asking a lot to have those guys go the distance."
Despite the loss, the season was a successful one for the Dolphins (38-8).
"If you told me back at the start of this season that these kids would have come this far, would have beaten Marion and Bamberg and Ashley Ridge and be two points from the big show," Day said, "I'd have taken that bet every time. I'm proud of these kids. They put a lot into it and got a whole lot better."
"There's no way," senior Porter Mahan said. "We lost a lot off of last year's team."
Mahan, who was pinned at 152 by Marion's Rashaun Davis, said hard work and Day driving the team were the difference from the start of the season.
But overachieving was little consolation for the loss.
"All the guys are pretty disappointed," Mahan said. "And I know the guys who lost in the final are even more disappointed than the rest."
Marion 37, Battery Creek 35
106: Brown (MAR) pinned Bearden
113: Gillard (MAR) pinned N. Torres
120: Washington (MAR) won by forfeit
126: Singleton (BC) pinned Nobles
132: Daniels (BC) tech fall Victims
138: L. Capps (MAR) def. Boyd
145: Payne (BC) def. G. Capps
152: Davis (MAR) pinned Mahan
160: Jordan (MAR) maj. dec. Poracky
170: White (BC) pinned Brock
182: A. Smalls def. Kusak
195: Mary (MAR) pinned K. Chisholm
220: C. Kaminsky (BC) pinned Gatson
285: M. Selby (BC) pinned Reems
2-A/1-A Lower State Championship
Timberland 42, Bishop England 29
Aynor def. Whale Branch (5 wrestlers)
St. John's 39, Baptist Hill 38
Battery Creek 51, Timberland 21
North Charleston def. Edisto by forfeit
Bamberg-Ehrhardt 48, Aynor 27
Marion 74, St. John's 6
Battery Creek 57, North Charleston 21
Marion 41, Bamberg-Ehrhardt 27
Marion 37, Battery Creek 35