Rock Hill Bearcats stick Northwestern to win region wrestling championship

bmccormick@heraldonline.comJanuary 31, 2014 

  • Wrestling state rankings (as of Jan. 31)

    Class AAAA

    Rock Hill retained the No. 1 spot in Class AAAA. Fort Mill (ninth), South Pointe (10th), York (15th) and Nation Ford (17th) also appeared in the top-20.

    Fort Mill’s Eddie Byrams is the No. 1 wrestler at 120 pounds, South Pointe’s Mike Miller is the top-ranked 132-pounder and Rock Hill’s Cam Bell is tops in the 220-pound class.

    Class AAA

    Chester checks in at No. 13 in Friday’s latest state rankings. The Cyclones are led by a pair of No.1-ranked grapplers, 170-pound senior Meleke Stewart, the defending state champ at 160 pounds, and 220-pound junior Temaris Dixon, who finished runner-up in that same class last year.

    Class AA/A

    Indian Land is ranked ninth in Friday’s Class AA/A poll. The Warriors are led by sophomore 120-pounder Dalen Byerley and 152-pound senior Devin Curtsinger, who are both ranked No. 1 in the state.

Rock Hill completed a perfect Region 3-AAAA wrestling slate with a 59-9 win over Northwestern on Friday evening.

The victory clinched the Bearcats’ region championship and turned the page on the regular season. Saturday morning, Rock Hill’s grapplers will compete in the Region 3-AAAA individual tournament at Fort Mill, with the top-four finishers in each weight class advancing to the Upper State championship.

On Monday, Cain Beard’s team turns its attention to the dual state tournament that begins next weekend. It’s that time of year again for the Bearcats, business time.

“I think all 14 guys can qualify if we wrestle well,” Beard said, referring to the individual region tournament. “That’s what the goal is anyway.”

Rock Hill (38-2 dual record) is in good spirits after brushing aside its crosstown rival. At 152 pounds, Kris Hughes got the Bearcats off to a winning start in the first match of the night, one which he largely dominated but wasn’t able to get the elusive pin.

That happened more than once for the visitors on a night where the Trojans weren’t interested in just lying on the mat. Nachon Gregory pushed Rock Hill’s Cam Bell in the 220-pound matchup, and even near-falled the state’s top-ranked wrestler in that class, but Bell ground out the 17-9 win via points.

There were some dominant moments for Beard’s crew too. In the 195-pound match, Emilio Navarez might be thinking he should of pinned Eli Judd, but he still put together a 10-1 decision. Heavyweight Travis Strait dropped his opponent, Tyler Trent, in 1 minute, 21 seconds, while sophomore 113-pounder Logan Sexton won his 100th career match with a pin of Michael Chumsawang.

Down the home stretch, the Bearcats showed the killer instinct that seems contagious throughout the program from year to year. Nick Steinberg dropped Amery Miller for a pin in 34 seconds during the 120-pound tilt, and 132-pounder Tyler Watkins stuck Freddie Gallo. Christian Moore’s pin of Tyler Perry in the 145-pound bout clinched the win, and the region, for Rock Hill’s wrestlers.

The first and second rounds of the dual tournament are next Saturday, Feb. 8. As the state’s No. 1 team in Class AAAA, Rock Hill will host matches as far as they advance in the state dual tournament.

The Bearcats lost to Lexington in the state finals last year. It was Rock Hill’s first visit to the dual state tournament championship match since 2010, so that bunch largely had not experienced a state finals environment. That obviously won’t be an issue this year, should Beard’s team get back to the championship.

“It’s just a matter of us taking the steps we need to over the next couple of weeks to finish the job that we started,” he said. “We’ve said many times that it took us losing in ‘08 to win it in ‘09. That’s kind of been the thing throughout this.”

Rock Hill 59, Northwestern 9

152: Kris Hughes (RH) dec. Jamison Humburg (NW) 9-0; 160: Hunter Allen (NW) pinned Nick Buchanan (RH); Ben Demarest (RH) dec. (Brett Sullivan (NW) 8-4; 182: Kobe Tate (NW) dec. Juan Watkins (RH) 4-3; 195: Emilio Navarez (RH) dec. Eli Judd (NW) 10-1; 220: Cam Bell (RH) dec. Nachon Gregory (NW) 17-9; 285: Travis Strait (RH) pinned Tyler Trent (NW); 106: Coleman Hoffman (RH) dec. Tyler Harmon (NW) 10-4; 113: Logan Sexton (RH) pinned Michael Chumsawang (NW); 120: Nick Steinberg (RH) pinned Amery Miller (NW); 126: Noah Mead (RH) won by forfeit; 132: Tyler Watkins (RH) pinned Freddie Gallo (NW); 138: Muldrow Rigby (RH) won by forfeit; 145: Christian Moore (RH) pinned Tyler Perry (NW).

Bret McCormick •  803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T

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