Hosting the Class 2-A/1-A Lower State wrestling championship on Saturday is no guarantee that top-seeded Battery Creek will win.
But it sure does make the task a lot less daunting, Dolphins head coach Nathan Day said.
“It definitely helps,” Day said after Thursday’s practice. “It’s some work getting it together. But four years ago, we went to Edisto and had three people in the stands.
“It’s good to have the kids with their families and friends in attendance. It definitely helps.”
What the defending state champion Dolphins did during the season has put them in a prime position to return to the state championships Feb. 13 at Dreher High School.
Wins over Bamberg-Ehrhardt and Marion, Battery Creek’s chief competition in the Lower State, put the two schools on the other side of the bracket.
Should they both continue to win, they’ll face each other. To reach the state final, the Dolphins would have to face just one of the two teams.
The Dolphins only return five regulars from last year’s lineup. But Day said the group has overachieved, despite nagging injuries and illnesses throughout the season that has often kept the Dolphins from fielding its best 14 wrestlers at one time.
“I’m as proud as I can be of this group,” Day said. “I didn’t think we’d have a chance to beat some of the teams we have. It’s been great, but we’ve definitely overachieved.”
Day pointed out the exploits of wrestlers like Ahman Smalls, who has only lost twice all year; Turhon White; and Tyrus Singleton, who “has surprised a lot of people.”
Obviously, the strength of the Dolphins is their big guns — senior Porter Mahan (152 pounds) and juniors Omar Daniels (126) and Cooper Kaminsky (195).
But Day pointed out it’s not just the guys who win that make Battery Creek good, but the guys who lose well.
“There’s a lot of other guys that go the distance and don’t get pinned,” he said. “That’s what wins tight matches in close dual meets. Go the distance and lose a major decision instead of getting pinned.
“And our guys have been getting better and better.”
As of Thursday, Day said the Dolphins should have their top 14 available and ready t go Saturday.
“I hope it works out Saturday,” he said.
CLASS 2-A/1-A Lower State Wrestling Championship
Saturday at Battery Creek High School
Opening round, 11 a.m.
Match 1: 1. Battery Creek (bye)
Match 2: 8. Bishop England vs. 9. Timberland
Match 3: 5. North Charleston (bye)
Match 4: 4. Edisto (bye)
Match 5: 3. Bamberg-Ehrhardt (bye)
Match 6: 6. Aynor vs. 11. Whale Branch
Match 7: 7. St. John’s vs. Baptist Hill
Match 8: 2. Marion (bye)
Quarterfinals, 12:30 p.m.
Match 9: 1. Battery Creek vs. Match 2 winner
Match 10: 5. North Charleston vs. 4. Edisto
Match 11: 3. Bamberg-Ehrhardt vs. Match 6 winner
Match 12: 2. Marion vs. Match 7 winner
Semifinals, 2 p.m.
Match 13: Match 9 winner vs. Match 10 winner
Match 14: Match 11 winner vs. Match 12 winner
Final, 4 p.m.
Match 15: Match 13 winner vs. Match 14 winner