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Leopard grapplers start off with a victory over Patriots

Posted: December 1, 2011 2:04 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Fielding what may be his youngest, but definitely his largest, team since he has been the wrestling coach at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School, Ted Monroe is learning to be patient with his new-look Leopards.

On Tuesday, L-EMS opened its season with a 69-12 win over in-county rival North Central Middle School.

For Monroe, it was a chance for him to see how many a newcomer would perform in a match for the first time.

"We have a really, really big squad," Monroe said. "We have 68 wrestlers on our team this year, but about two-thirds of them have never wrestled before. We also have a very young squad with a lot of promise and talent."

The Leopards also return seven state qualifiers from a year ago and Monroe said he is counting on that group to lead the team.

L-E collected a dozen victories over the Patriots on Tuesday. Putting points on the board for the winners were: Parker Gogan (82 pounds), Phillip Sullivan (90), Dontrell Johnson (105), Nick Payne (112), Ryan Miller (119), Blair Cearley (126), Jason Grant (132), Derrick Lewis (138), Seth Ham (145), Tyler Williams (155), Brandon Branham (185) and heavyweight Zach Stalker.

"I’m really excited about the potential of our team," Monroe said following the win. "We have some great kids who are working very hard. By the time mid-January rolls around, I think that we’ll have a chance to be pretty special."

With the first match of the year under his team’s belt, Monroe said he is hoping for a large turnout when the Leopards host two more county rivals, Stover Middle and Camden Middle, next Wednesday in a 5:30 p.m. tri-match at L-EMS.

On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Leopard Duals will be held at L-EMS beginning at 9 a.m. The field will include all four Kershaw County middle school programs, along with Cardinal Newman, Sumter and Anson (N.C.) Middle School.

Admission to the Leopard Duals is $5 per person. There will be a concession stand in operation and commemorative tourney T-shirts will also be on sale.

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