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Rams edge IL for crown

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Chesterfeild tops Warriors for Upstate title

By Robert Howey

The Indian Land Warriors’ bid to capture a first-ever Class A state title berth fell shy Saturday afternoon in the IL gym.

Defending state champion Chesterfield posted a 36-30 win over the Warriors to earn a bid to the state title match.

The Rams, who defeated Indian Land for the third time this season, took an early lead and held on. Chesterfield advances to face Class A Lower State champion Bamberg-Ehrhardt for the Class A state title at Ridge View High School on Saturday.

“We felt we had a good game plan and we had all the match-ups we wanted,” ILHS wrestling coach Mike Kersey said. “We didn’t execute our game plan well. We just couldn’t get it done.”

The Rams, ranked No. 1 in Class A, appeared on their way to an easy win, but Warriors’ senior Thomas Harris prevailed on a pin of Rams’ former state champion Elijah Burr at 140.

“I was proud of the way Thomas stepped up there and wrestled against a defending state champion,” Kersey said. “He wasn’t intimidated like wrestlers are when they face a state champion. He answered the challenge and came through with a big win.

“In Thomas’ career, he has over 100 wins and that was one of his biggest,” Kersey said. “He put us in position and gave us a shot at winning the match.”

Dillon Creed followed with a win on a disqualification at 145, where the Warriors were awarded six points and the Rams lost three team points.

In the next match, IL’s Stefano Sojo lost by pin to give CHS a 36-15 lead.

“That was pretty much it after that match as Chesterfield had enough points to win,” Kersey said.

Indian Land finished strong with Mark Gunter winning on a decision and Dakota Landry and Tyler Quilia taking forfeits to make it 36-30 at the end.

“We came up short of our goal and I take responsibility for that,” Kersey said. “I pushed our wrestlers real hard and they did all I asked them to do on the mat.

“We lost some matches I thought we could have won,” he said. “They were just better than us.”

The match marked the final contest for Warriors’ seniors Thomas Harris, Stefano Sojo, Jesse Perez, Dillon Creed and Tyler Quilia.

Indian Land opened the single-elimination tournament with a 70-3 win over Christ Church of Greenville. The Warriors then downed Ninety Six, 39-31, before facing the Rams.

Indian Land went 2-1 on the day, giving the IL grapplers a 21-12 mark for the season, which set a new Warriors’ wrestling record for wins in a season. The old mark was 20 wins in 2005.

“It’s been a good season and we wanted a chance to wrestle for the state title,” Kersey said. “We battled, but just fell short. We’re disappointed, but we have a lot to be proud of this season.”

Indian Land will now focus on the individual state title tournament, which will be held Feb. 20-21 at Aynor High School. The top four from the Class A Lower State ttournament advance to the state tournament Feb. 27-28.

Chesterfield 36 IL 30

215 – Reco Hayden won by decision

275 – Josh Gray (IL) lost by decision

103 – Jared Smith (IL) lost by technical fall

112 – Jonathan Rowe (IL) lost by decision

119 – Logan Creed (IL) lost by technical fall

125 – Jesse Perez (IL) lost by pin

130 – Will Pendleton (IL) lost by pin

135 – Trevor Jones (IL) lost by technical fall

140 – Thomas Harris (IL) won by pin

145 – Dillon Creed (IL) won by disqualification

152 – Stefano Sojo (IL) lost by pin

160 – Mark Gunter (IL) won by decision

171 – Dakota Landry (IL) won by forfeit

189 – Tyler Qulia (IL) won by forfeit