Alan Salgado said his goal was to win a heavyweight wrestling state title in 2016, but he didn’t expect to go undefeated.
Salgado won 72 matches without a blemish, tying the state record for wins in a season, according to SCMat.com. Eastside’s Clay Walker won 72 matches in 2013 but he lost three times; Salgado of course was undefeated.
Salgado only weighed about 245 pounds on average this season, while most of his opponents were closer to 270 or 280. But he was only taken down twice the entire year, on what he called “his mistakes.” Salgado pinned 42 opponents and is The Herald’s 2016 All-Area wrestler of the year.
The Rock Hill football standout squared up to Fort Dorchester’s defending state champ, 290-pound John Simpson, in the heavyweight final. Simpson beat Salgado last season when the two wrestled during the dual team tournament, and then again in the first round of the 2015 individual tournament.
It wasn’t clear whether Simpson - a Clemson football commitment - would wrestle this season, but Salgado put it in his head “that he wasn’t gonna beat me.”
“It came down to me and him and I took it to him,” said Salgado.
The Bearcat grappler had vocal support from the crowd during the final, especially from the Dorman wrestling team, which would win the team title at the individual tournament if Salgado beat Simpson. The Rock Hill senior eked out a 3-2 decision to his - and the Dorman Cavaliers’ - delight.
“It was something that I’m gonna remember for the rest of my life,” said Salgado. “Coming from not being very good my freshman year to going 72-0 my senior year definitely meant a lot. Being able to jump into coach (Ryan) Whitmore’s hands after the match, it’s something I’m gonna remember.”
York’s Shawn Petties is The Herald’s coach of the year after helping the Cougars into the team dual playoffs from one of the toughest regions in the state and a big upset in the first round of Hillcrest. York also sent several wrestlers to the state individual tournament.
2016 All-Area wrestling
Coach of the year: Shawn Petties, York
Wrestler of the year: Alan Salgado, Rock Hill
106 Jeremy Kishbaugh, Nation Ford- junior finished 38-6 and placed third at 4A state tournament, after winning the Upper State championship.
113 John Brotemarkle, Fort Mill- senior won the Region 3-4A championship, finished third in the Upper State and third at the 4A state championship. Brotemarkle finished the year 38-6.
120 Brody Claassen, Fort Mill- sophomore finished second in the region, fourth in the Upper State and qualified for the state tournament. Claassen was 31-14 this season.
126 Christian Trimble, Nation Ford- Trimble finished the season 37-10 and won individual championships at South Meck and Davie County’s tournaments.
132 Rodrick Whitlock, South Pointe- Stallions junior won the 3A Upper State championship, then claimed the 3A state title in his weight class, his closest match at the state tournament a 7-1 decision in the final.
138 A.J. Leitten, Fort Mill- junior had a fantastic season, finishing 40-0 and winning the 4A state championship. Leitten could have been the wrestler of the year most other seasons; he also won the Southern Slam and Beef O’Brady’s tournament championships, as well as Region 3-4A and Upper State titles.
145 Steven Hamilton, Fort Mill- junior won the 4A Upper State championship and placed fourth in the individual state tournament. Hamilton finished the season 32-10.
152 Caymen Williams, Chester- senior and North-South all-star was 43-5, winning the Region 3-3A and Upper State championship. Williams placed second in his weight class at the state tournament.
160 Cardan Williams, Chester- Caymen’s twin brother finished second in the state at the 3A championship meet. Williams won his weight class in Region 3-3A and the Upper State championship and finished his senior season 23-5.
170 Jakob Gravely, Nation Ford- junior was 38-11 and qualified for the 4A individual state tournament.
182 Stephen Chesney, Rock Hill- senior finished 62-7 after winning the Upper State and Region 3-4A championships in his weight class.
195 Will VanHoose, Indian Land- senior was a North-South All-Star and finished third in the state in 1A/2A in his weight class.
220 Akir Al-Qasim, Northwestern- sophomore was 59-6 after winning the region title, finishing third in the Upper State and qualifying for the state tournament.
HWT Alan Salgado, Rock Hill- senior heavyweight went 72-0, winning the Region 3-4A, Upper State and 4A state titles. Salgado knocked off defending state champ John Simpson (Fort Dorchester) in the state final and also wrestled in the North-South all-star matches. Salgado pinned 42 opponents this season and was the Region 3-4A wrestler of the year.
106 Tanner Culbertson, York- freshman placed third in the Upper State individual tournament and qualified for states. Culbertson was 42-11 this season.
113 Jay McNeal, Rock Hill- North-South all-star senior was 54-14.
120 Danny Love, Rock Hill- freshman won the region title and was 41-19. Should have a good rivalry the next few years with Fort Mill’s Claassen.
126 Logan Sexton, Rock Hill- Sexton would have been a first team choice no doubt had his season not ended in December because of injury. He was ranked No. 1 in the state at that point and 22-2. Sexton was a North-South All-Star.
132 Dalen Byerley, Nation Ford- senior finished 28-2 after finishing runner-up in the state at 132 pounds. Byerley was the 4A Upper State champion and a four-time state placer. He was also a North-South all-star.
138 Zeke Bean, York and Tyri Brown-Washington, Lancaster- both wrestlers finished fourth in the state in their respective classes. Bean, a junior, will be back next year after posting a 34-19 record. Brown-Washington graduates following an 18-5 season.
145 Nathan Stroud, South Pointe- Stround lost to eventual state champ Michael Mewhorter at the 3A individual tourney, but wrestled back to finish fourth. Stroud was 35-12 as a junior and finished second in the Upper State.
152 Tarrik Beaulieu, South Pointe- Stallions senior finished third at the 3A individual state tournament. Beaulieu was 33-10 this season.
160 Jack Debbout, Fort Mill- North-South all-star was 34-10 as a senior, finished second at the Upper State tournament and was a state qualifier for the third time.
170 Noah Reynolds, Rock Hill- sophomore region champion was 51-12 this season and qualified for the state tournament.
195 Tylik Simrill, Rock Hill- sophomore was 14-12, but won the region championship and qualified for states.
HWT Xi Simpson, Chester- junior won the region championship and was 24-8.