The third time was the charm for Hilton Head Island.
Beaten by county rival Beaufort twice during the regular season, the Seahawks slipped by the Eagles 32-30 on Wednesday night at Beaufort High School to win the Class 3-A Lower State wrestling championship, the team’s first since 2010.
“The most rewarding thing to do in wrestling is to come back and beat somebody who has beaten you before,” Hilton Head Island head coach Mike Newton said. “Because it’s real easy to think they’re better than us, whether it’s an individual or a team. We can’t beat them. We’ll just keep it close.
“But our guys really wanted to win. They’d beaten us twice before, and we were ready to take this one.”
Hilton Head Island will face Eastside, which beat West-Oak in the Upper State final, for the 3-A state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at Dreher High School in Columbia.
Newton manipulated his roster so that six wrestlers competed up a weight class to give his guys the best chance to win.
“You can’t just do it because it looks good on paper,” Newton said. “The kids have to go out there and perform. Teenagers are often just looking for a reason to doubt themselves, and going up a weight class can do it. But for our kids, it’s never been an issue for them.”
“Mike (Newton) did a great job of moving his lineup around,” Beaufort head coach Travis Wynn said. “Like I said, he’s a phenomenal coach. You want to put your kids in the best position to win, and he did that tonight.
“We had a couple of kids that didn’t wrestle to potential and that was a real big difference.”
Last season, Beaufort, the defending 3-A Lower State champion, and Battery Creek, the two-time defending 2-A state champ, represented Beaufort County in the state finals.
This time it’s the Seahawks of Hilton Head Island.
“I’m proud of them,” Newton said. “They deserve it.”