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Leopards win another Carolina Invitational title

Posted: January 28, 2014 9:56 a.m.
Updated: January 29, 2014 5:00 a.m.

As he watched members of his team come off the mat with hard-fought, distance-going victories, Lugoff-Elgin Middle School wrestling coach Ted Monroe could not help but keep an eye and ear on the alert when it came to Carver Middle School’s wrestlers.
In spite of carrying just six qualifiers to Saturday’s Hank Hammond Memorial Carolina Invitational, the unofficial state championships for middle school, junior varsity wrestlers, Carver finished the day with 14 pins and 101 points. That was not enough, however, to unseat Monroe and his band of wrestlers who scored a day-best 111 points to win their second consecutive Carolina Invitational crown.
The Leopards, who have won the tournament three of the past four years, tied an event record in having 16 qualifiers punch their ticket into the event hosted by Lexington High School.
While his team may have had strength in numbers, Monroe said Carver held the upper hand in putting its opponents on their back.
“I wouldn’t say that we wrestled great,” Monroe said of his team’s performance, “but we were solid.
“Our biggest problem was that we just couldn’t pin anybody. The last couple years, we’ve had 17 or 18 pins in this tournament. Saturday, we only had seven pins. We were beating people, but we couldn’t pin them.
“Carver had just six wrestlers and had 14 pins. It seemed like every time I looked up, Carver was pinning somebody. They racked up some big bonus points with their pins.”
The Leopards did have the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler in 92 pound champion Devin Wilson. The eighth-grader capped a memorable showing by defeating Jacob Brassauer from Lexington in the finals, 4-2, to cap a 4-0 day with each win coming via decision.
“Devin’s match against Brassauer was one for the ages,” Monroe said of the finale. “Brassauer was undefeated in two seasons and Devin was 0-5 against him until Saturday.”
Wilson was one of two champions for L-EMS as classmate and teammate Seth Branham took the 185-pound division by blanking Hank Manos of Chapin in the finals, 4-0.
The Leopards received a pair of second-place finishes as Elijah Dixon was runner-up at 104 pounds, after falling in the finals to Isaac Manning of Lexington, 4-3. In the 110-pound class, Jacob Carron had a tough week and nearly made it a memorable one, only to come up short in the final match.
“Jacob was sick with the flu and did not practice from Monday through Thursday. He came back on Friday, but was not able to do much,” Monroe said of Carron. “He came out strong on Saturday, but he did not have any easy matches as he gutted out three decisions. He just ran out of gas in the finals after having spent everything he had to get there.”
The Leopards received two wins each from Shawn Phillips (98 pounds), Lorenzo McGee (117), Cameron Payne (132) and Gavin Ferguson (154). Seth Wages (80), Josh Boone (110), Reddek Kelly (117) and Grant Wells (146) added to the scoring with a win apiece.
Stover Middle School, led by two wins from 170-pound Jaquan Weaver and another from Chandler Griggs at 131 pounds, finished 31st with 17 points.
Camden Middle School’s top performer was 285-pound Javonta Salmond, who tied for third with three wins in four matches to help the War Eagles to four points.

Demons, Dogs record top four finishes in Lexington: In the junior varsity portion of the Carolina Invitational on Saturday, Lugoff-Elgin High School’s Evan McDonald finished second at 126 pounds while Camden High School had a pair of fourth-place finishers in Brice Nichols and Donovan Engram at 132 and 195 pounds, respectively.

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