By Justin Jarrett
Nearly half of the Lowco area wrestlers who took the mat Saturday for the Class 4A and Class 3A Lower State qualifier meets are moving on to the state tournament. A total of 18 area wrestlers from five schools advanced to next Saturday’s SCHSL State Championships by placing in the top three in their weight classes at the Lower State qualifiers.
Class 4A dual runner-up May River led the way with six state qualifiers, including a trio of Lower State champions. Santiago Rueda (138), Gabe Juarez (160), and Eli Hall (220) all claimed gold, while Emilio Mendoza (113) and Anthony Nelson (152) earned silver, and Chris Snowden (182) punched his ticket with a third-place finish.
Hilton Head High and Beaufort High each had four wrestlers qualify, including a pair of champions.
James Levy (113) and Drew Vigh (126) claimed gold for the Seahawks, while Zao Estrada placed second at 106, and KJ Holland rebounded after losing his first-round match to work his way through the consolation bracket and place third at 145.
Beaufort’s Colton Phares (182) and Theo Washington (195) earned gold, while teammate Jeremiah Simmons (160) was second, and Matthew Durrance (152) placed third.
Bluffton High School had one qualifier — 152-pound champion Nate Elliston.
In the Class 3A meet, Battery Creek took eight wrestlers to the mat and will send three to state as Lower State champs. Elmer Linares (106), Sam Degroat (113), and Gunnar Degroat (132) all claimed gold and first-round byes in the state tourney.
The state championships will be held Saturday at Dreher High School. The 3A meet begins at 10 a.m. with the 4A meet to follow at 4 p.m. No spectators will be admitted