IL quartet places in state

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Two Warriors runners-up in A-AA field

By Robert Howey

The Indian Land Warriors had four of nine wrestlers place in the Class A-AA state tournament at Lexington High School.

The Warriors’ effort was highlighted by a pair of state runner-up finishes on Saturday to cap the two-day event.

The Warriors finished sixth in the Class A-AA state field.

IL senior Dillon Creed, a 145-pound competitor, placed second, falling by two points.

“Dillon made a couple of mistakes on his feet and lost a close match,” Warriors’ coach Mike Kersey said. “Dillon has displayed a great deal of courage in his wrestling career and for him to reach the state title match is quite an accomplishment.

“Over the last two years, he has had four knee surgeries and that would have stopped most wrestlers, but he was driven to battle for a state championship.”

Creed, 2-1 for the state tournament, caps his prep wrestling career, competing in the annual North-South All-Star tournament this weekend at North Myrtle Beach.

“An all-star event is a great accomplishment and Dillon is most deserving,” Kersey said.

IL senior Thomas Harris, who like Creed won a A-AA Lower State title last week, competed in the state tournament, but didn’t place. Kersey said Harris was ill most of the week with a cold and the illness hindered his state title quest.

“Thomas wasn’t 100 percent and he couldn’t give 100 percent,” Kersey said. “He had a fine season and I hate it ended this way.”

Junior Mark Gunter, who entered the state tournament as one of the Warriors three A-AA Lower State champions, finished as the state runner-up. Gunter, a junior 160-pounder, was pinned in the state title match by Emerald’s Zane Newton, a defending state champion.

“Mark has been outstanding the last two weeks and has won some close matches in a tough field,” Kersey said. “He was outmanned in the state title match, but in a good way. The experience can only help him.”

IL junior Trevor Jones placed third in the 135-pound class, going 3-1.

“Trevor also battled a cold and he lost a one-point match in the semifinals, but he came back and showed a great deal of character by battling back to place third. He didn’t allow the tough loss in the semis to beat him twice.”

Reco Hayden, an IL freshman, went 2-2 in 215-pound class.

“For a freshman to place in the state tournament is outstanding,” Kersey said. “I was really proud of his effort. Reco has a bright future.”

Kersey said he was proud of the support for the 21-12 Warriors this season.

“We had great support at this tournament and throughout the postseason,” Kersey said. “Our parents and fans are first class and we appreciate them.”

Cunningham leads BHS

Buford High 125-pounder Rashad Cunningham led the Jackets’ effort in the Class A-AA state tournament with a runner-up showing in the 125-pound weight class.

Cunningham, a junior, was 2-1, falling to Chesterfield High standout Ian Harper 10-3. Harper, a three-time state champion, went 70-0 this season. Cunningham was 38-6.

Cunningham, who qualified for the state tournament with a runner-up finish in the Class A-AA Lower State tournament at Aynor, defeated Anthony Bianco of Crescent 5-2 and Marcus King of Palmetto High 5-3 to earn a state title berth before falling to CHS Rams’ ace Harper.

Jackets’ junior 215-poounder Johntrell Caudle, third in the Lower State field, placed fourth after falling in the consolation finals.

Caudle, 32-11 for the season, went 2-2 for the day. He fell in the state semifinals which sent him to the consolation round where he battled back to place.

“Two of our three state qualifiers placed and each of them are juniors, so that’s good experience against quality competition,” BHS coach John Mahaffey said.

Jackets’ senior 189-pounder Josh Ferguson, third in the Lower State field, dropped two decisions at the state tourney and didn’t place. He went 25-15.

Buford, 16-14 this season, was 15th in the Class A-AA state field.