Wrestling took to the mats this past Saturday at Eastside High School for the Upper State qualifier. 11 wrestlers attended the tournament and three left with the opportunity to battle for a state championship next week at the Anderson Civic Center. All 11 wrestlers put on incredible performances against some of the top wrestlers in the state.
Elijah Villa, #4 in the state, wrestled in the 145 weight class, which is arguably one of the hardest weight classes this year. Villa’s first match was against region rival, York. York has proven to be a tough opponent and Saturday was no different, but Villa would ultimately win a 9-8 nail biter decision. Next up was a true test for Villa with his match against the #2 in the state from Greer. The first period was in favor of Greer, but Villa was not phased by his opponent’s efforts. At the start of the second period, Villa was able to get top position on his opponent and locked his leg in to finish his opponent with a guillotine and get the pin! This win sealed the deal and earned Villa a spot in the state championships next week!
Jordan Hightower is currently #6 in the state and competed for most of the year at 160 pounds, but decided to move up to the 170-pound weight class where he looked much stronger and faster. His first match of the day was against Travelers Rest and Hightower was able to do what Hightower does best and destroy his opponent within 1 minute. The next match was probably psychologically much harder than the rest because Hightower was up against an opponent from South Pointe, who was #1 in the state and the last person to beat Hightower in a minor decision for the Region Championship. If you had not seen that match from a few weeks ago, you would have had no idea that South Pointe got the best of Jordan because Hightower immediately went into attack mode and was up 11-3 going into the 3rd period. Hightower got a little too comfortable in the 3rd period and his opponent was able to catch up in points, but Hightower was able to do enough to win and stamp his ticket to the state championships next week!
The last qualifier was Drake Lesher at the 195-pound weight class. Drake was an absolutely dominant force for the Redhawks this year and his performance this weekend only proved that more. His first match was against Greer and going by looks, everyone thought Greer was going to pull this one off, but Lesher had other thoughts and with constant pressure and movement, Lesher was able to hip toss his opponent at the one minute mark and got the pin. Next up, he had to face the #1 in the state from South Pointe and the only one who can find a way to take Lesher out and unfortunately, this time was no different. Unfazed, Lesher was able to regroup and was up against #6 from Blue Ridge and wrestled him much as he did against his opponent from Greer. After a little bit of arm grappling, Lesher tied his opponent’s arms up and launched him through the air and straight to his back in just 45 seconds! This pin punched Lesher’s ticket to state!
Here are the finishes from the other wrestlers
106- Cameron Shepard (1-2)
113- Robert Wade (3-2)
120- Trinity Lunn (0-2)
126- Luther Bells (2-2)
132- Jayden Brown (0-2)
138- AJ Reyes (3-2) (Injured out)
152- Gabe Smith (0-2)
182- Tyvion Shannon (1-1) (Injured out)