High School Sports

'Cats' title hopes pinned

Rock Hill's Chad Beck tries to take down Summerville's Ashley Braeklein in the 135-pound weight class.
Rock Hill's Chad Beck tries to take down Summerville's Ashley Braeklein in the 135-pound weight class.

BLYTHEWOOD -- It took Rock Hill three years to get back to the Class AAAA state championship match.

All didn't end well for the Bearcats, with their 35-31 loss to Summerville at Ridge View High School.

The last time Rock Hill made it to the championship was in 2005, and the Bearcats lost to Summerville that year. It was almost as lopsided then, with the Bearcats winding up on the wrong end, 43-16. Summerville forfeited the last three matches on Saturday and gave Rock Hill its last 18 points.

The match signaled the incoming of the new in Bearcats' first-year coach Cain Beard, and the outgoing of the old, with Summerville's Kenny Walker likely to step down in the next week after 11 seasons.

It was Walker's seventh state championship.

"We weren't satisfied just to get here,'' Beard said. "Obviously, it was our goal to win. But it's been a good season when you consider where we started and where we ended.

"We lose four seniors off a team that won 29 games. With the majority of our team back next year, who knows? We could be back.''

Momentum was the deciding factor Saturday.

The starting draw was 215 pounds and the score was 12-0 Summerville as quick as a wink. Justin Ball-Collins, who started wrestling only two months ago, got the Wave rolling with a second-period pin over Mark Watkins.

Summerville got a very quick six points in the heavyweight match when Beard elected to forfeit to Andre Deweese.

"When I heard the draw was 215, I knew as soon as I stepped on the mat that it was up to me to get things started,'' Ball-Collins said. "Coach Walker had told us that if we grabbed the early momentum, we would beat Rock Hill. Now we've got to work on talking him into staying.''

The Bearcats perked up in the next match, getting a 10-0 major decision worth four points. Chad Beck beat Corey Hall to put Rock Hill on the board.

The celebration on Rock Hill's side of the mat was brief. Summerville picked up nine points in the next two matches before the Bearcats scratched again, this time with Jake Grav's pin over Cameron Turner at 125.

Summerville won four of the next five matches, closing it out with Josh Porter's 7-3 decision over Josh Tuck that pushed the Green Wave on top 36-13. That's when Walker decided to forfeit and give Rock Hill the final three matches and 18 points, a decision that didn't sit well with Bearcats senior Jodie Helms.

He would have started the match, but Beard bumped Helms from 215 down to 189 and the only times he got near the mat were to warm up, be introduced and to shake hands with the three Bearcats that won.

"That was the second time this season I didn't get to wrestle because of a forfeit, and I don't like it,'' Beck said. "It makes you want to bite your tongue off.

"We are glad to get here, but it's tough on our four seniors; me, Reggie (Jeffcoat), Mark (Watkins) and Jake (Grav) to go out like this. The bottom line is Summerville showed up and we didn't.''

Rock Hill's final win came at 135, where Chad Beck decisioned Ashley Braeklein 9-4.

When the match ended, Summerville's wrestlers started what they hope will become a new tradition. The stood shoulder to shoulder facing Rock Hill's team across the mat and held up a yellow nylon rope.

Walker laughed and said his kids would try anything, that the idea was to show that they pulled together.

"Justin got us rolling, and it snowballed from there,'' Walker said. "We felt if we could get it going early, got the momentum, then we could win.

"I'm still leaning toward calling it quits. I'll think about it hard. If I do leave, it will be good to know I'm going out on top.''

• NOTE: In Saturday's other championship matches at Ridge View, Easley beat Hilton Head 45-19 and won its fifth straight Class AAA title.

Loris edged Woodruff 38-24 and won the Class AA championship.

Chesterfield blasted Bamberg-Ehrhardt 61-1 in Class A, winning its fourth championship in five years.