The Indian Land wrestling team had a strong showing in the Warrior Invitational tournament Saturday. The team had the most top-three placers in the 16-team field, nine, but finished in second place overall behind Chesterfield High School.
Head coach Mike Kersey said he was proud of the team's effort, though they still had work to do.
"We lost some matches at the end, made too many mistakes. We just need to work on our mat strategy," Kersey said. "Hopefully it comes by the end of the year."
The Warriors' nine top placers - four first-place, two second-place, and three third-place - led the way to a 228-point finish. The Warriors finished 10.5 points behind Chesterfield, which won with 238.5 points, and a distant 88 points ahead of Buford High School, which had 140. Waddell High School and Broome High School rounded out the top five.
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Senior Dillon Creed was the first Indian Land wrestler to win his weight class, taking the 140-pound title with a win over Jake Rigsby of Charlotte Christian School.
"I was real proud of his effort all day," Kersey said of Creed's performance. "He was a good leader for us today."
Creed, who has been battling knee injuries for the last two seasons, said his leg did not give him any problems during the matches Saturday.
"Everything felt good," Creed said. "I was really excited that my leg didn't bother me."
Creed said he thought the team performed well, but it was not unexpected.
"We knew coming into this that it was our tournament to win," he said. "So we went after it."
Creed said the team would learn from the experience of wrestling against such a large group of teams early in the year.
"We fought well today - we'll keep working on that. I think we're really ahead of where we were this time last year," he said.
Creed was one of three first place finishers for the Warriors to win their championship match with a first period pin. The other two were Josh Gray, who won the 275-pound weight class, and freshman Reco Hayden, who took the 215-pound title.
Hayden was the first Indian Land freshman in the history of the Warrior Invitational tournament to win the 215-pound weight class, Kersey said.
"I came in with the mindset that I've got to do it for my team," Hayden said.
"It means a lot. I've worked for it."
Hayden, who is in his second season as a wrestler, said with dedication and hard work he thought he could win the title all four years he is at the school.
The fourth weight class winner for the Warriors was Mark Gunter, who won a nail-biting 8-7 match over Clover's Josh Finigan in the 160-pound championship.
"Mark had a thrilling match," Kersey said. There was a lot of scrambling."
Kersey said he was also proud of the effort he saw from some of his underclassmen.
"Rico won and two other freshman, Jared Smith and Logan Creed, finished third. They had a pretty fair day today," he said.
The Warriors will shift their focus to their matchups against Chester and Northwestern this week, while continuing to work towards the championships at the end of the season.
"There are 63 days left until the upper state championships," Kersey said. "We've got to get a lot better."