Battery Creek wrestling needed to own this week to earn a shot at the playoffs. The message had been drilled in before this stretch.
And so after the Dolphins' victory Tuesday at Cane Bay, Battery Creek coach Kyle Kimrey allowed only as much celebration as there was bus ride. Bluffton is next, he said.
Battery Creek coaches slipped their wrestlers motivational phrases. Wrestle with heart. Wrestle for six minutes. There's nothing you can't do for six minutes.
And Thursday night at Battery Creek High School, the matches in the balance went the Dolphins' way. They defeated Bluffton, 43-31, to all but lock up a playoff spot as one of the top two teams from Region 7-AAA.
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"We're improving all the time," said Battery Creek senior Maurice Lamb, who won with a pin at 152 pounds. "We're doing our thing and keeping the pace going."
The victory Thursday followed the Dolphins' 42-27 win Tuesday at Cane Bay. All seven of the Dolphins' wins in that match came by pin. Kimrey said his team had wrestled almost as well as it was capable. But he wanted the focus to return quickly.
Delmar Sanders established the tone Thursday for the Dolphins with a third-period pin at 135 to start the match. With their dominant heavier weights looming, the Dolphins secured the match with 15 points between bouts 152, 160 and 171. Dylan King followed Lamb's pin with a pin in his 160-pound bout. Javon Livingston muscled out a decision at 171.
"We were kind of looking at those matches as they could go either way," Kimrey said. "Our kids just wrestled with guts, wrestled with heart and character, and that's what we've been trying to preach."
Bluffton is without some key pieces due to reasons coach John Hollman declined to go into Thursday. He did say the Bobcats wrestled with three state qualifiers, which he said was the most they've had in the lineup all season.
Outside of the two heavier weights, which Hollman conceded to Battery Creek standouts Bear Childers (215) and David Ratliff (285), the coach thought the other 12 bouts were fair game.
"You need to have those toss-up matches go your way," Hollman said.
The Dolphins travel to the U.S. Navy Duals in Columbia this weekend for a tune-up before another week of region meets, against Hilton Head High and Berkeley. Kimrey said the duals would provide valuable mat time and the chance to tinker with the lineup as the postseason approaches.
"Right now, we have control of finishing top two in the region," he said. "As long as we do the right things, we'll be fine."
Battery Creek 43, Bluffton 31
103: Chris Bockelman (BC) pinned Lloyd Williams, second period
112: Levi Joly (B) won by forfeit
119: Alex Waddell (B) pinned Jimmy Sanchez, second period
125: Austin Farmer (B) pinned Joey Kasper-Little, third period
130: Josh Green (BC) major dec. Nikko Delgado, 16-7
135: Delmar Sanders (BC) pinned Michael Meyerink, third period
140: Derrick Frazier (B) dec. DeShawn Smalls, 9-6
145: Carlos Alverde (B) pinned Jason Williams, second period
152: Maurice Lamb (BC) pinned Harry Chirinos, second period
160: Dylan King (BC) pinned Braden Putich, second period
171: Javon Livingston (BC) dec. Kyle Waddell, 12-9
189: Manuel Lopez (B) major dec. Marquise Givens, 9-1
215: Bear Childers (BC) pinned Isai Hernandez, first period
285: David Ratliff (BC) pinned Zach Maloney, first period
Note: Match started at 135