The Rock Hill Bearcats will take on the Summerville Green Wave for the Class AAAA wrestling state championship at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at White Knoll High School in Lexington.
For Rock Hill coach Cain Beard, it is the second time in his seven years at Rock Hill that he has faced the Green Wave. During Beard’s first season, his Bearcats lost to Summerville in the 2008 state final.
“Any time Rock Hill and Summerville get together in wrestling there is special emphasis,” said Beard. “This will be a battle between two very good teams. It will be a little more intense because of the rivalry between the two schools over the years.”
Rock Hill is going for its 17th state title, and Beard is going for his second at the school. Wednesday night’s appearance in the championship match is the fifth for Beard. He and his team are looking to win it all after losing to Lexington last year in the title match.
“This is big for us and for our seniors,” said Beard. “It would be their first state championship. That class has worked very hard over the years, and this year’s team has really paid the price to win.”
The Bearcats marched through the Region 3-AAAA season unbeaten. They beat Riverside, Laurens, Dorman, and Hillcrest to reach the title match. Summerville topped Stratford, White Knoll, Dutch Fork, and Lexington to reach the state championship round.
Senior Kris Hughes wrestles in the 152-pound weight class and is one of ten seniors on the team. His 11-5 decision started the comeback for the Bearcats against Hillcrest. When his match was finished the Hillcrest lead had been cut to five points.
“We all want a ring,” said Hughes. “We have bonded over the years. We have worked hard together over the years, and we believe in each other and what every one on this team is capable of doing.”
Cody Childers, who competes at 160, is also one of the seniors. He helped the Bearcats continue the comeback win on Monday night with a 15-4 major decision to cut Hillcrest’s lead to a single point.
“This state championship is a rivalry match,” said Childers. “It means a lot to all of us. Hopefully, we can go out and wrestle well and make a statement for our school.”
Travis Strait is another of the senior leaders on this year’s squad. He recorded a 14-6 major decision on Monday night to give Rock Hill a three point cushion heading into the final match.
“Losing in the state championship last year has given us motivation for the entire season,” said Strait, who wrestles at 285. “When we got down against Hillcrest, nobody gave in. We have been together a long time, and we have each others back. We all trust everyone on this team.”
Beard knows points on Wednesday night will be at a premium. They always are when two quality teams compete.
“We have played the strategy every way we can think of,” said Beard. “Every dual meet is different because of the matchups, but we know where we have to win, and where we hopefully can steal some points. I feel like if we can win seven events, we have a good shot to win it all.”