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Renfroe helps put Demons over the top against Cats

L-E hosts Rams tonight in 4A Upper State finale

Posted: February 8, 2011 1:38 p.m.
Updated: February 9, 2011 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

ROCK HILL’S CODY CHILDERS grimaces in pain while being squeezed by Lugoff-Elgin’s Will Connell in their 171-pound bout which Connell won by a third period pin on Monday.

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On a night when it should have been hard for him to crack a smile, that is exactly what Rock Hill wrestling coach Cain Beard did when asked to give a preview of tonight’s 4A Upper State championship match between visiting and top-ranked Hillcrest and host Lugoff-Elgin, the state’s third-ranked team according to the latest poll.

With his team out of the equation following Monday’s third round, 30-24 loss to L-E, Beard said tonight’s 7 p.m. 4A semifinal with Hillcrest, a 45-24 winner over Riverside, could turn into a battle of wills.

“I think that’s going to be a great match,” said Beard, whose team has squared off against both of this evening’s combatants.

“It’s going to be a lot of contrasts of styles. I think Lugoff is a lot like us; they’re pretty darned good on their feet and they’re a really tough team. Hillcrest is a really tough team, too. I’ll tell you what, if you get on the bottom with them, they will tilt the heck out of you. They runs tilts all day. You’ll be in the match and, all of a sudden, you’re on the bottom and 30 seconds later, you’re down by 10 points.”

In order to get into and host tonight’s match, the Demons first had to get past a Rock Hill program which has 16 state championship trophies in its case. The two sides split a pair of in-season meetings with L-E (23-4) losing the season opener, 36-27, before evening the count with a runaway 44-17 victory on New Year’s Eve in Lexington.

Demons’ head coach Even Moxie expected Monday’s Upper State semifinal inside the Demons Den to be more along the line of the first pairing with the Bearcats (27-4) and his prediction was on the money.

With his team leading, 24-12, with four matches left to be wrestled, Moxie admitted to being a bit edgy knowing that Rock Hill had a pair of 4A state champions in brothers Weston and Seth Beck ready to take to the mat in the 130 and 135 pound weight classes, which would bring the evening to a close.

Needing to carry a sizeable advantage in the final two matches, Moxie and the Demons received the win they needed when 119-pound senior Chris Renfroe battled from a slow first period, took a 2-0 lead in the second before pinning Marquel Scott with 1:21 left in the match to give his team a 30-12 advantage.

Renfroe’s pin meant the only way in which the guests would have a chance to win the match --- and even then, it would have needed to go to tie-breakers --- would be to score three pins in the final trio of contests.

Moxie admitted to having Renfroe’s match “in the books, as a win.”

“He’s just one of those kids that you never know about,” Moxie said of Renfroe and his win. “He puts people in awkward positions and was able to pull through for the team. We expected to win the next match with (Tony) Murphy. Renfroe’s match became really important when we lost with Murphy. We were real happy with (Renfroe’s) performance.”

Beard said he looked at the 119-pound match as one which could have gone either way.

“Marquel has a couple big moves in his arsenal. He’s never out of a match,” Beard said. “We knew that was going to be a tough weight for us. We lost one of our kids, who moved to North Carolina and who won that match-up the first time we wrestled (L-E). It just hurts when you have to stick another kid in there. It’s just one of those things.”

Renfroe’s victory loomed even larger when Murphy, the third-ranked 125-pounder in the 4A ranks, lost a 2-1 third period lead and, eventually, the match when Justin Collins scored two points for a takedown and another pair for a near fall in taking a 7-2 overtime victory which left Moxie holding his breath when Collins put Murphy on his back in the one-minute extra session.

“If Renfroe was getting a decision, I knew that Murphy would have to win a decision,” Moxie said. “When Renfroe got the pin, all we had to do after that was to not get pinned. And, Tony almost got pinned in overtime. He fought off his back there, thank the Lord. That could have made it very interesting.”

The Beck brothers would help bring the final tally into single digits with Weston downing Dreshon Wood, 21-6, at 130 pounds before Seth defeated Alonzo Grant, 17-6, at 135.

Moxie was asked why he wrestled the final two matches rather than forfeiting them and moving on to Hillcrest. He said he did it to give both Wood and Grant a chance to test themselves.

“Those are two of the better kids in the state in any weight class,” Moxie said of the Becks. “Dreshon gave it all he had but that Weston Beck, I would say that he’s, hands down, the best kid in the state. He just has a motor and he never stops.”

The Demons laid the groundwork for the win in taking five of the first six pairings in a match which opened with David Osteen cruising to an 8-1 win over Bishop Ashley in the 140-pound opener to give the hosts a quick 3-0 lead. The score went to 6-0 when L-E’s Parker Singleton did all his scoring in the third period with a late takedown giving him a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Johnny Munas at 145.

The Demons’ lead grew to 9-0 after Corey Edenfield racked up six first period points which paved the way for a 9-5 victory over Austin Lee at 152.

Both coaches liked where this match started.

“I thought we got kind of lucky where we started at 140, leaving the Beck brothers last. We knew what we had to do,” Moxie said.

“We could not have asked for the match to start in any better place because we felt like we were in position to come away with two of three of those,” Beard said of the first trio of pairings. “We had beaten the kid at 140 and we beat the kid at 152 earlier in the year. Unfortunately, we didn’t come up with those wins and lost all three of those matches. Ultimately, that probably was the difference in the match.”

The Bearcats reached the board for the first time with a pin at 160 to trim the lead to 9-6. The Demons then used Will Connell’s third period pin of Cody Childers, whom Connell was beating, 17-2, with 1:33 left in their 171-pound match. Zach Connell then hiked the lead to 18-6, holding off Jonathan Schavey, 9-4, at 189 pounds.

The biggest surprise of the night came at 215 pounds in which Rock Hill’s Terrence Adams jumped out to a 10-5 lead against Theo Shepard and would hang on to give the L-E senior his initial loss of the season with Adams taking a 10-7 decision.

“Anytime that you’re 38 or 39-0, they’re always ready to get beat because the head gets big … they’re young,” Moxie said of Shepard’s loss. “I think, overall, this is going to be a great thing for Theo Shepard. I fully expect him to come back Wednesday with some vengeance.”

Trailing 19-9, the guests narrowed the gap to six points when heavyweight Thomas Perry scored on a third period reverse which proved to be the deciding point in a hard-fought 4-3 victory over L-E sophomore Allen Jenerette. The Demons turned the tables on RH at 103 with Lake Stephens scoring the final point of his 4-3 win over Christian Valazquez when the Bearcat was penalized for an illegal hold in the final minute of the contest.

The string of close calls continued at 112 with L-E freshman Chris Jackson scoring on an early first period takedown and making those two points hold in a tougher-than-expected 2-0 win against Luke Walker.

“I thought they did a good job at 112. Their 112-pounder is not that good, but he wrestled well today,” Moxie said. “We’re a pretty balanced team; we don’t have many holes. If we need points in the lower weights, we have guys who can get us points. The light guys definitely came through for us tonight.”

“Throughout the match, we had kids who came back and battled through adversity,” Beard said. “Our 103 and 112 hung in there like crazy. They weren’t even expected to be starters this year, but they came in and filled a role. I couldn’t ask for anything more from them.”

Moxie tipped his hat to Beard and to Rock Hill, saying the Bearcats’ head coach had his squad ready on Monday.

“That team right there that we just wrestled could give any team in the state a run for their money. They’re a solid team,” said the second-year Demon boss.  “We lost some matches I thought we would win tonight. I thought they would be ready and they were. Cain had his guys ready to go. We’re just happy to get out of here with a win.”

With Hillcrest looming less than 48 hours after this win, Moxie said his team could ill afford to celebrate and give each other a pat on the back for a job well done. The post-match celebration, if you could call it that, was subdued and brief.

“Anytime you can beat Rock Hill in the playoffs, that’s a real good win,” Moxie admitted before looking ahead to tonight.

“I just told the kids that we have about 35 seconds to enjoy this. Then, it’s time to move on to Wednesday.”


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