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Demons add to win streak over Camden

Posted: February 9, 2014 10:52 a.m.
Updated: February 10, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Who doesn’t like to make history?
Try Peter Hemingway, for one.
Hemingway, the first-year head wrestling coach at Lugoff-Elgin, did not want to go into the school’s annals for the wrong reasons. He avoided one trap by winning the Region 4-4A title on Saturday. Three days later, a 47-33 win over Camden had him breathing a little easier. To complete the non-record book trifecta, the Demons must have gotten past Woodmont in Saturday’s 4A first round pairing inside the Demons Den.
As for Tuesday, L-E overcame a 33-24 deficit with four matches left against rival Camden with three pins and a technical fall victory in those bouts to take home the victory over their 3A rival.
“Honestly? I’m keep telling our kids that I’m trying to not make history,” Hemingway said when asked about his team’s post-season prospects. “We haven’t lost the region since 1997. I told them, ‘Guys, we have a losing record and we’re not good. Let’s make sure we don’t make history and we’re not the team that breaks that (conference championship) streak.’
“I told them the same thing before this match, that we haven’t lost to Camden since 1991 and do not be known as the team that broke that streak. I know we’ve had all kinds of problems and issues all year long, but you have to step it up one time. ‘We also have never lost in the first round of the playoffs and on Saturday, I’m going to tell them, ‘Do not make history today.”
After 10 pairings into Tuesday’s match with the Demons, the host Bulldogs stood on the brink of putting 23 years of futility behind them as Joey Hendrix’s troops scored the most points by a CHS squad against L-E in many a season. But when it came crunch time, the visitors came up big, again.
“Very disappointing,” Hendrix said of his team’s stretch run.
“I thought we wrestled well and wrestled hard. It was just a disappointing outcome. It’s one-on-one, there’s no hiding behind anybody. It’s all on us to go out there and leave no doubt as to who wins each match. We left some things to doubt and that’s on me as a coach and, we’ll get it straight.”
The guests opened like they closed with freshman Noah North building up a 10-0 lead and then geting a pin in the first minute of the second period of the opening 132-pound contest to put the Demons on top, 6-0. Next up, it was Camden freshman Caid Cokley’s time to put the Dogs on the board.
In his match with Andrew Mills, Cokley scored a two-point reversal in the final 20 seconds of the second round to even things at 4-4. Mills nearly won the match in regulation, but it was determined that his takedown came after the horn as the match went into a one-minute overtime. After a scoreless first session, Cokley used a near fall and a reversal in the first 30-second session before scoring on a reversal in the second half-minute round to come away with a 10-2 win which cut the deficit in half at 6-3.
“Caid’s a very good wrestler,” Hendrix said of Cokley. “He took it to triple overtime and fought until the end. He’s probably the most in-shape wrestler I’ve ever coached.”
Camden’s lone senior, Josh Thomas, gave the Dogs their first lead of the night with a pin with 24.7 seconds left in his 145-pound contest. The Demons would go right back on top, 12-9, with Nick Payne’s pin in the first minute of the 152-pound match.
The Bulldogs regained the advantage with a pin from Jayden Pollard with 18.1 seconds left in the second period at 160 pounds in his return to the mat. CHS freshman S.J. Lucas then needed just 41 seconds to score a pin at 170 to hike the advantage to 21-12.
In what was starting to become a see-saw contest, the visitors regained the upper hand when Nick Armador scored a second period pin with six ticks left in the clock at 182 pounds to cut the deficit to 21-18. One match later, the Demons took a 24-21 advantage when Alex Todd needed just 23 seconds to score a pin at 195 pounds.
What amounted to being the Bulldogs’ final hurrah came in the two heaviest weight classes. In the 220-pound contest, CHS sophomore Timmy King recorded a second period pin. Classmate Robert Warnock followed with a pin in the opening 30 seconds of the heavyweight pairing to build the Dogs’ lead to 33-24 with four matches left on the docket.
Camden nearly scored a pin at 106 pounds as freshman Lindsay Pierce had L-E’s Bryan Robinson on his back in the opening minutes of the first period of a two-minute session which ended in a 5-5 tie. Robinson was able to regroup in the battle between two freshmen to score a pin in the opening minutes of the second period to draw the Demons to within 33-30.
“Lindsay Pierce is an outstanding freshman and he will fight you tooth and nail and with everything that he has,” Hendrix said. “I was very proud of his effort tonight.”
The quartet of wins continued at 113 pounds with L-E senior Larry Robey picking up five points with a 15-0 technical fall, second period victory at 113 pounds. The evening ended with the visitors getting a second period pin from freshman Donnell Johnson at 120, which put the Demons over the top at 41-33, before senior Chris Jackson iced the cake with a first period pin at 126 pounds.
On a night in which young wrestlers took center stage --- L-E started three seniors to Camden’s one --- Hemingway said his youngsters came up big while getting a helping hand from the team’s veterans.
“We’re very young and I think we’re going to get better,” he said. “I was glad our seniors --- Larry Robey, Chris Jackson and Dennys Colon --- wrestled the way they did because they haven’t been lately. Two of them are starting for the first year so they don’t have a ton of experience. They wrestled better tonight.
“Our freshmen stepped it up a good bit in a lot of spots. I’ve gotten used to counting on them.”
“We’re young,” Hendrix said of his Bulldogs. “We have one senior on this team. I’m glad we have the nucleus of this team coming back. We’re going to get better.”
Having a young team can lead to a young coach aging in a hurry. As he searched for the right words after Tuesday’s match, a drained Hemingway was hardly ready to celebrate following the win over his team’s rival.
“I’m just glad to be able to escape at this point,” he said with a wry smile. “It’s been a long, ugly season.”

(Editor’s note: This story was scheduled to run in last Friday’s edition of The Chronicle-Independent, but was pushed back to today in order to make sure all four National Letter of Intent signing stories from throughout Kershaw County wre able to be run in Friday’s issue.)

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