It didn’t take very long for Hilton Head Island’s wrestlers to dispel any concern coach Mike Newton might have had about a letdown. And now comes the main event.
The Seahawks blitzed an overmatched Swansea side with eight pins Monday night, rolling to a 67-6 victory that filled out the Lower State final showdown against Beaufort everyone had been expecting since November.
“This is why we wrestle,” Newton said, “to compete at the highest level and see what you can achieve. Hopefully we can wrestle like we did tonight, like we did Saturday, and we’ll see what the scoreboard says when we’re all done.”
Beaufort, a 48-20 semifinal winner over Airport, will host Wednesday night’s clash beginning at 7 p.m.
The Eagles are ranked No. 3 in Class 3-A, one ahead of the Seahawks (21-4), and also prevailed in an early season meeting.
“These kids are coming around,” Newton said. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to wrestle them again.”
Following a slim 37-31 victory Saturday over St. James and with Beaufort on the horizon, Newton couldn’t help but hold out a little concern that his wrestlers would come out flat against a Swansea squad unranked as a team and featuring just two ranked individuals.
But after James Roberts eked out a 6-5 win over Swansea’s Aaron Aycock at 132 pounds, six of the next seven matches were terminated by Seahawk pins. Martin Duane capped the run with a 20-second pin of Joshua Mixon at 195 pounds, staking Hilton Head to a 43-0 lead.
Mason Ray, ranked No. 1 in the state at 220 pounds, notched Swansea’s only victory with a pin of T.J. Johnson. Only one other Hilton Head wrestler ever trailed in his match — Kai Liska, who roared back from an early 4-1 deficit to claim a 13-6 victory at 126 pounds.
“I’m extremely pleased,” Newton said. “These guys know what they’re doing, and they know what they want to achieve. There was no special motivation needed, nothing from a coaching standpoint. It’s all the kids.”
With a trip to the state championship on the line, there’s little reason to expect any letdown between now and Wednesday.
“We have one more day to get better,” Newton said. “We’ll work on fine-tuning some things specific to Beaufort, because we’ve seen them twice. The main thing is to make sure everyone’s on weight and go wrestle 14 hard matches on Wednesday.”
HILTON HEAD 67, SWANSEA 6
132 pounds: James Roberts (HH) def. Aaron Aycock (S), 6-5. 138: Alex Braden (HH) def. Grant Sebok (S), pin 4:43. 145: Jeb Lesch (HH) def. Kenny Leach (S), pin 5:53. 152: Chris Soler (HH) def. Arnulfo Landaverde (S), 12-3 MD. 160: Billy Christie (HH) def. Myles Smith (S), pin 4:38. 170: Talon Seitz (HH) def. Quaevon Cannon (S), pin 3:35. 182: Elihu Torres (HH) def. Joseph Beane, pin 4:30. 195: Martin Duane (HH) def. Joshua Mixon, pin :20. 220: Mason Ray (S) def. T.J. Johnson (HH), pin 1:00. 285: Harvey King (HH) def. Jordan Smith (S), 3-2. 106: Erik Hinton (HH) won by forfeit. 113: Logan Johnston (HH) def. Preson Jacob (S), pin 1:12. 120: Kaden Seitz (HH) def. Dante Williams (S), pin 4:55. 126: Kai Liska (HH) def. Malik Morris (S), 13-6.