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Cunningham finishes fourth in A-AA field

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By Robert Howey

Buford High School sophomore Rashad Cunningham had the top finish among the three county wrestlers who competed in the individual state championship matches on Saturday.Cunningham, in the 119-pound class, placed fourth. He went 2-2 on the day, giving him a 22-9 record for the season.Cunningham was one of two BHS Jackets in the Class AA-A state meet at Gilbert High School.Lamont McPhearson, a sophomore 160-pounder, finished fifth in the state field.Cunningham, a fourth-place finisher in the Class A-AA Lower State meet at Aynor High School the previous week, lost by a decision in the opening round, but then posted two straight pins. Cunningham lost on a three-point decision in his final match.“I thought Rashad wrestled well and I’m proud of him,” Buford High School coach John Mahaffey said. “He worked hard all week and it showed when he took the mat. The experience of being able to compete in the state competition is only going to help him get better.”McPhearson was the lone sophomore in his weight class.“All the others were juniors and seniors,” Mahaffey said. “Lamont lost in the consolation semifinals, but he battled all the way in a tough field. He was in a challenging class, but gained some good experience which will help him in the future.”McPhearson, who qualified for the state meet as a third-place finisher in the Class A-AA Lower State meet, finished the season at 27-7.Mahaffey said he was grateful to BHS wrestlers Marcus Pressley and Daniel Deese for assisting Cunningham and McPhearson in workouts last week.“Those two gave Rashad and Lamont a chance to practice their moves last week,” Mahaffey said. “I was glad they came back and helped them prepare for the state tournament.”Mahaffey, an 11th-year coach at BHS, caps a busy postseason today when he leaves for North Myrtle Beach to participate in the 20th annual North-South All-Star wrestling weekend.“I’m looking forward to it because these are the best high school wrestlers in the state,” Mahaffey said. “It should be fun and a great experience.“This is an honor and I’m glad to have the chance to be a part of this event,” he said.Mahaffey will serve as a coach for the South all-stars.Mahaffey said he’s the first all-star participant out of the BHS wrestling program since 1999 when former Jackets’ star Mike Langley was third in the heavyweight class.A year ago, senior Brian Taylor, at 119, was slated to compete in the North-South All-Star matches, but was unable to wrestle due to a season-ending injury.LHS’s Thompson 7thLancaster High School 189-pounder Dawan Thompson, a junior, placed seventh in the Class AAAA state meet at Irmo High School on Saturday.Thompson went 2-2 on the day, including a 5-2 loss to the state champion.“Dawan gave him a go,” LHS coach Sam Robinson said. “Overall, it was a good experience for Dawan in a tough class. It will help him prepare for next season.”Thompson, 32-10 for the season, earned the LHS wrestling MVP this winter. He qualified for the state meet as the fourth-place finisher in the Class AAAA Upstate meet.