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Connell pins down second state crown

Posted: March 1, 2011 3:02 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2011 5:00 a.m.

Will Connell brought home his second state individual medal --- and the seventh for his family --- when the Lugoff-Elgin senior 171-pounder won the 4A state championship on Saturday at the Anderson Civic Center.

Connell became the school’s first 4A state champion when he pinned Alex Morales of Lexington 30 seconds into their championship pairing. Connell, whose older brother Ben won four consecutive AAA state titles from 1997 through 2000, and another older brother, Campbell took the AAA 160-pound crown in 2007, went 3-0 with as many pins in the two-day event.

Connell, who won the AAA state title at 171 pounds as a sophomore, had his toughest match of the two-day event in the semifinals when he put Clint Wright of Beaufort on his back with 45 seconds left in their match.

Connell was the only state champion of the seven Kershaw County grapplers who wrestled their way into the state championships. Zach Connell, Will’s brother and a junior at L-E, took third at 189 pounds. North Central sophomore Daniel Witmore also was a third-place finisher at 189 in the A-AA portion of the event. L-E senior Tony Murphy finished fourth at 125 pounds.

After winning his first match, Zach Connell lost to eventual runner-up, Jonathan Schavey of Rock Hill, 8-6, in the second round of action. Connell then pinned Marcus Ambrose of Summerville before scoring a 6-5 decision over Phillip Austin of White Knoll in the consolation finals.

Witmore, a state qualifier at 171 as a freshman, opened his weekend by downing Devarius Brunson of Lake City, 6-1, in Friday’s first round. He then lost a 4-3 heartbreaker to Chesterfield’s Caleb Pate on Saturday. Witmore bounced back to pin Edisto’s Daniel Craven 27 seconds into the third period before scoring an 8-7 decision over Adrian Phillips of Timberland in the consolation finals.

"I was proud of how Daniel battled the last two matches after losing a very close one (4-3) in the semifinals," NC head coach Britt Gardner said of Witmore. "His opponent in the consolation finals was a senior from Timberland and was a state qualifier for the third year in a row. Daniel scored a takedown in the last 15 seconds to win by one.

"He went this year with a goal to bring home a medal, and accomplished it. He has already set his sights higher for next year."

Murphy scored a 12-4 win over Eric Connell in the first round before losing to eventual state champion Aaron Hanson in the semifinals. The Demon senior pinned Lexington’s Cody Bonham in the final eight seconds of the second round to advance to the consolation finals in which he lost a 7-5 decision to Jacob Romano of Woodmont.

The Demons’ other two seniors, Parker Singleton and Theo Shepard, went 0-2 and 1-2 at 145 and 215 pounds, respectively.

NC senior Troy Teal  lost a pair of matches in the A-AA 112-pound division.

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