Hilton Head Island head coach Mike Newton might know a little more about Eastside on Saturday morning than he did on Wednesday night.
But not much.
The Seahawks will face the Eagles at 1 p.m. Saturday at Columbia’s Dreher High School for the Class 3-A wrestling state championship.
And both teams are going in blind.
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“We know more than we did Wednesday,” Newton said. “We gathered as much intel as we could. We were not in any tournaments with them. We haven’t seen them, but they haven’t seen us, either.
“Any team has a certain style. You try to prepare for that with what little we know and try to figure out their individuals.”
Key weight classesA look at three weight classes that will be key in Saturday’s 3-A state championship:120 pounds: Hilton Head Island will send senior Kaden Seitz, who has missed most of the season, to face Eastside’s stud, top-ranked Zane Mitchell.138 pounds: Eastside will likely move Alex Brown (No. 7, 145 pounds) down to face No. 2-ranked Alex Braden, the defending state champ at 132.Heavyweight: Hilton Head Island head coach Mike Newton expects a big match out of Harvey King, who wrestled a great match against Beaufort. “He’s come a long way this year,” Newton said.
There’s a good chance Newton will again move his lineup around to give his wrestlers the best chance to succeed, similar to the Lower State championship win over Beaufort. The Seahawks sent six wrestlers out up a weight class from their norm in the 32-20 win on Wednesday night at Beaufort.
“We certainly move our lineup,” Newton said. “I’ve preached from Day 1, weight doesn’t matter. Wrestling is wrestling. If you need to wrestle up a weight class because that’s what the team needs, you do it.
“It’s all about the team.”
Sometimes it means losing well is as important as winning.
As a result of the changes in Hilton Head’s lineup on Wednesday, junior Eric Ashdown faced Beaufort’s Connor Gruel, ranked No. 1 in the state at his normal weight of 160 pounds, at 152.
Ashdown’s job was simply not to get pinned.
“I knew he was a better wrestler,” Ashdown said. “Coach just told me to stay off my back.”
He did. The six points from a pin, instead of the three Gruel earned with the decision, would have given Beaufort the win. Instead, the Seahawks held on.
“I’m definitely more conditioned than I was all year,” Ashdown said. “I tried to pace the match.”
Newton feels like this team is special.
“This year’s team just feels different. I’ve felt we’re real similar to thee 2010 team,” Newton said. “That team lost to Bluffton twice in the regular season before beating them at home to win Lower State. But that rivalry was so intense, the state final was an afterthought.
“I’ve tried to tell the team, ‘we can’t be happy with just knocking (Beaufort) off.’ ”
Ashdown, for one, believes the Seahawks won’t settle for second.
“We are definitely going to win it,” he said. “I have full confidence in my team. I think this is the best team Hilton Head has ever had.”
SCHSL State Wrestling Championships
At Dreher High School, Columbia
Class 2-A/1-A: Marion vs. Liberty, 11 a.m.
Class 3-A: Hilton Head Island vs. Eastside, 1 p.m.
Class 4-A: Ashley Ridge vs. Dorman, 3:30 p.m.
Cost: $10; ages 5 and younger are free
Watch online: Visit www.schsl.tv for live streaming of the state wrestling championships.