Mike Newton figured his team would not win Saturday, as strange as it might have sounded.
Eastside and West-Oak, two of the top five programs in Class 3-A, appeared to have the best teams competing in the Coach Trap Memorial Wrestling Tournament, which concluded Saturday at Battery Creek High School. And Newton, Hilton Head High's wrestling coach, knew where the Seahawks stood.
Hilton Head High competed with those two powerhouses in the top pool Saturday, finishing third. West-Oak defeated Eastside, 37-33, to claim the tournament title. Beaufort High took fourth after downing host Battery Creek, 41-31, in both teams' final match. The Dolphins finished sixth.
Newton made his team's focus about individual efforts and preparing for key matches in the upcoming week.
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"I'm proud of the way we wrestled," Newton said. "We knew coming into today we weren't going to beat these two teams. All we were concerned about was getting some of our better guys on their better guys to get our kids pushed."
Hilton Head High senior Campbell Miller, who has wrestled up at 140 pounds, dropped to 135 to face a pair of the top wrestlers at that weight. Miller lost a decision to West-Oak's Nick Bower, ranked No. 2 at 135 pounds in Class 3-A, and defeated Eastside's James Jones.
Seahawk sophomore Chris Ordonez dropped down to 130 to create better matchups. He lost in double overtime to Eastside's Jacob Simmons but defeated West-Oak's Bill Sexton, ranked No. 3.
The focus on individuals seemed the theme Saturday for local teams.
Battery Creek heavyweight David Ratliff, salivating all season at the chance to wrestle St. James's Nuji Holmes, won a decision over the Sharks senior during a morning challenge match. Holmes had defeated Ratliff three times a season ago, once by points and twice by fall. Holmes entered the tournament as the top heavyweight in Class 3-A, according to scmat.com. Ratliff was No. 2. That could change now.
"I went out there and had the mind-set it was a new year," Ratliff said. "I've gotten better in a year."
Newton and Battery Creek coach Kyle Kimrey each said they were looking ahead to key matches this week. The Dolphins wrestle Cane Bay and Bluffton before heading to the U.S. Navy Duals in Columbia. Hilton Head High hosts Cane Bay on Wednesday before traveling to the Chapin Duals for the weekend.
Whale Branch brought only four wrestlers, its juniors, and finished ninth. The other Warriors, about 18 underclassmen, traveled with coach Keith Massey to Summerville to compete in the junior varsity state qualifier. Josh Brister filled in to coach the sparse varsity lineup.
"We were just trying to get some mat time against quality opponents," Brister said.
West-Oak's victory ended a long stretch of Class 4-A domination in the tournament. Fort Dorchester won the event the past four seasons but did not enter this year. Before that, Summerville won the title five consecutive times. Beaufort High and Colleton County were the only 4-A representatives this year.
Eagles coach Bill DaMude, after his team went 1-1 during Friday's matches, said his wrestlers competed better Saturday. The Eagles finished 2-0 in their pool, dropping Bamberg-Ehrhardt before outlasting the Dolphins with help from the heavier classes.
COACH TRAP MEMORIAL WRESTLING TOURNAMENT
Team Standings -- 1. West-Oak, 2. Eastside, 3. Hilton Head High, 4. Beaufort High, 5. Bamberg-Ehrhardt, 6. Battery Creek, 7. St. James, 8. Colleton County, 9. Whale Branch
West-Oak 44, Hilton Head High 25
Eastside 48, Hilton Head High 23
West-Oak 37, Eastside 33
Bamberg-Ehrhardt 39, Battery Creek 36
Beaufort High 50, Bamberg-Ehrhardt 24
Beaufort High 41, Battery Creek 31
Colleton County 58, Whale Branch 12
St. James 84, Whale Branch 0
St. James 72, Colleton County 12
West-Oak 47, St. James 19
Beaufort High 42, St. James 23
West-Oak 55, Beaufort High 18
Battery Creek 54, Colleton County 18
Eastside 72, Colleton County 9
Eastside 55, Battery Creek 15
Hilton Head High 72, Whale Branch 6
Bamberg-Ehrhardt 60, Whale Branch 6
Hilton Head High 39, Bamberg-Ehrhardt 38