Indian Land head wrestling coach Leon Boulware was drenched in sweat. If you didn’t know better, it could have been assumed he had been in a match himself. His voice was nearly gone as well, but his smile wasn’t as his Warriors are headed to the 3A state championship Saturday.
The Warriors beat the Crescent Tigers 37-29 to win the Upper State championship and will face the Lower State champion Gilbert High School 1 p.m. at Airport High School. Indian Land will be looking for its first ever state title in the sport and the first ever state title for a boys’ sport in the school’s lengthy history.
Indian Land (34-5) didn’t get off to the best start and trailed 21-14 midway through the dual against Crescent, but then rallied to win five weight classes in a row to take a commanding lead.
“We knew going into the last couple matches down low we would find a way to pull it out, we just had to battle up top,” Boulware said. “We knew where we were starting at and what we had to finish with.”
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Trailing 21-14, Indian Land got a much-needed major decision from Clint Creech at 113-pounds with a 13-1 win. That put the Warriors within three points and started the winning streak. Austin Ross at 120-pounds got a first period pin that brought a packed Indian Land gym roaring to life and put the Warriors up 24-21.
Solomon Cortez extended the lead with a first period pin of his on at 126-pounds as the heart of the Indian Land line-up got the job done for the Warriors. Weston Nguyen got a 21-5 tech fall at 132-pounds and Teddy Yarborough got a 4-0 decision which mathematically gave Indian Land the victory.
Indian Land has been on the cusp of the state finals for the past several years, losing last year to West-Oak in the Upper State championship. This year, Boulware watched his team has gotten over the last hurdle.
“This is something we have been working for the last three years,” he said. “Now it is time for it to pay off. We are here and we are going to keep it rolling.”
Also getting wins for Indian Land against Crescent were Markeith Drakeford (160), Raul Neil (220) and Erick Neil (285). Neil weighed in at a much smaller 231 pounds against an opponent weighing 276 pounds, but he still got the win that helped the Warriors close the gap. Neil was able to throw the 276-pound Justin Tillman and get the pin in the third period.
Mac Banks:, @MacBanksFM