Green Wave grapplers suffer heartbreaking loss in finals
It may have hurt less if Summerville had never gained momentum.
An exciting Green Wave rally wasn’t enough Wednesday as Rock Hill won a 28-23 victory in dramatic fashion to claim the Class AAAA state wrestling championship. The teams met at Lexington High School for a night filled with twists and turns.
“We gave up too many points in the light weights and that put a lot of pressure on our big guys,” Summerville coach Daryl Tucker said. “Still, in the end, we had a chance but we let it slip away.”
Rock Hill won the first four matches for a 15-0 lead. Summerville fought back to take a 23-18 lead, but then the Bearcats won the final three matches of the night.
Everything came down to the final match that pitted Summerville’s James Sass against Rock Hill’s Devon Faile in the 106-pound weight class. The Green Wave trailed by 2 points so all Summerville needed to claim the championship was a win by regular decision but it wasn’t in the cards.
After the wrestlers worked themselves out of bounds they returned to the center of the mat with the score tied and only 16 seconds remaining in the final period. They appeared headed for an extra round but Faile made a move in the closing seconds and was awarded a take down for a 3-1 victory to clinch the title for the Bearcats.
The crowd was so loud that the buzzer marking the end of the period was not heard by all. One official waved his hands in a manner that seemed to indicate time had run out before the move was landed but the other official didn’t think that was the case.
“I thought time had expired but they said there was two seconds left on the clock,” Tucker said of the takedown. “We’re not going to blame the officials. We had the same time they did to take care of business and we didn’t get it done. Rock Hill deserves to win.”
The ending sparked a full range of emotions as the Rock Hill bench erupted into celebration while the Green Wave bench couldn’t hide its disappointment.
“I just feel sorry for my seniors,” Tucker said. “We aren’t happy with second place because we came up here to win this thing. I hurt for my guys because I know how much time and effort they put into this.”
Wrestling began in the 113-pound weight class. Rock Hill’s four-match opening run to take the 15-0 lead featured a pin at 130 by Logan Sexton and a 7-0 decision by Noah Mead at 132.
Robert English then got Summerville going with a 9-3 win at 138. Daniel Smith earned a 17-2 technical fall in the next match and John Van Slooten won a 7-4 decision to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 15-11.
Rock Hill’s Cody Childers won a 6-5 decision at 160, but Summerville responded by winning the next three matches.
Jamal Lucas won 7-2 at 170; Anthony Collins pinned his opponent at 182; and Corey Alumbaugh won 7-5 at 195. The consecutive wins put Summerville up 23-18.
Cameron Bell won a major decision at 220 for Rock Hill and then Travis Strait won a decision to put the Bearcats up 25-23 with only the 106 match remaining.
“What a great effort by both teams,” Rock Hill coach Cain Beard said. “We came out the champs, but what a dual meet. Neither team wanted to lose and wow that final match was unbelievable. Those two kids have battled their entire career so for it to come down to the last seconds nothing could be better for the fans of South Carolina wrestling and the fans of this Rock Hill-Summerville rivalry.”
In terms of state championships, Rock Hill and Summerville are the top wrestling programs in the state, in that order. How many state titles each team has depends on if titles based on a points system rather than a head-to-head system are included.
According to the Palmetto Finest Record Book, Rock Hill now has 16 state titles and Summerville has 12. The next closest program is Swansea with 10.
Rock Hill 28, Summerville 23
106 - Devon Faile (RH) dec. James Sass (S), 3-1; 113 - Jay McNeil (RH) dec. Nagi Murray (S), 6-4; 120 - Logan Sexton (RH) pin Justin Connelly (S); 126 - Kendrick Mackey (RH) dec. Austin Delancey (S), 11-10; 132 - Noah Mead (RH) dec. Tyler Fachko (S), 7-0; 138 - Robert English (S) dec. Babe Rigby (RH), 9-3; 145 - Daniel Smith (S) tech.fell Christen Moore (RH), 17-2; 152 - John Van Slooten (S) dec. Kris Hughes (RH), 7-4; 160 - Cody Childers (RH) dec. Chad Wood (S), 6-5; 170 - Jamal Lucas (S) dec. Ben Demarest, 7-2; 182 - Anthony Collins (S) pin Juan Watkins (RH); 195 - Corey Alumbaugh (S) dec. Stephen Chesney (RH), 7-5; 220 - Cameron Bell (RH) maj.dec. Eric Henderson (S), 12-3; 285 - Travis Strait (RH) dec. Julian Gibbs (S), 4-2.