Label Lewis could have pulled from any number of clichès to describe his triumph Saturday at the SCHSL Individual Wrestling Championships.
The Hilton Head High sophomore, wrestling at 112 pounds, won a Class 3-A state title at the Civic Center of Anderson after defeating DiAndre Robinson, 14-0. Lewis finished second at state last season as a freshman. This was redemption.
But Lewis' motivation was different. He wrestled to honor senior teammate Campbell Miller, who finished 1-2 in his state matches and did not place.
"I wanted to win for him," Lewis said in a phone interview, "because this was his last year."
Hilton Head High coach Mike Newton said Lewis was the first sophomore to win a state title for the school since 1984.
Lewis was one of three area state champions Saturday. Beaufort High School's Maliek Maldonado won at 215 in Class 4-A and Battery Creek heavyweight David Ratliff brought back a state title in Class 3-A.
Maldonado survived triple overtime to defeat Darian Simms of Goose Creek in the final. The win avenged Maldonado's Lower State loss to Simms last week, also in triple overtime.
In the final overtime Saturday, Maldonado needed an escape for a valuable point and victory. He was able to get up. At Lower State, it was Simms who earned the crucial point.
Maldonado said he was excited enough to cry, but the junior figured he would save the tears for his senior season.
"I'll have to hold those in until next year and see if I can repeat," he said. "A lot of emotion."
Ratliff also will have the chance to repeat. The junior earned his state title after working through a tough bracket. His run started with a win over Eastside's Tre Long, who had beaten him this season. He later knocked off Saint James' Nuji Holmes, who entered as the top-ranked heavyweight in Class 3-A and had beaten Ratliff at Lower State.
Ratliff won a decision over York's Beau Nunn to claim the title. Ratliff entered ranked No. 6 in Class 3-A. But Dolphins coach Kyle Kimrey told him anyone had the chance to win a state title, as long as they were in the bracket.
"He said just wrestle on my feet," Ratliff said. "To keep it up and get takedowns."
Six Beaufort County wrestlers reached title matches. Beaufort High senior Kenan Jackson finished second at 160 in Class 4-A. Bear Childers finished second to Eastside's Cullen Gallimore at 215, who also beat Childers at state last year. And Bluffton High School's Austin Farmer was pinned in the final by Eastside's Clay Walker at 125.
2011 SCHSL Individual State Wrestling Championships
Tournament record, finish
Beaufort High, Class 4-A
Maliek Maldonado, 215: 4-0, First
Kenan Jackson, 160: 3-1, Second
Clint Wright, 171: 2-2, Fourth
Thyrik Legree, 189: 0-2
Trey Arant, 145: 0-2
Battery Creek, Class 3-A
David Ratliff, 285: 4-0, First
Bear Childers, 215: 3-1, Second
Chris Bockelman, 103: 1-2
Delmar Sanders, 130: 0-2
Bluffton, Class 3-A
Austin Farmer, 125: 3-1, Second
Jason Williams, 145: 1-2
Levi Joly, 112: 1-2
Manuel Lopez, 160: 0-2
Michael Meyerink, 135: 0-2
Hilton Head High, Class 3-A
Label Lewis 112: 4-0, First
Chris Ordonez, 125: 2-2, Fourth
Campbell Miller 130: 1-2
Matt Johns, 119: 0-2
Nick Bautista, 215: 0-2