Martin inspires Socastee to win over Sharks, region title

The Socastee High wrestling team closed out the region title with a 42-24 win over defending champion St. James on Thursday night, but the biggest winner for the Braves never took the mat.

Sophomore Dylan Martin, who has been undergoing treatments for leukemia at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston since being diagnosed last summer, joined his teammates as the honorary captain.

With the visiting crowd (and even some in the home stands) sporting orange to show their support for Martin, he returned the favor by rooting his fellow wrestlers to the region championship.

“Tonight we just wanted to make sure we did him proud, and I think we did,” Socastee coach Jeff Gibbins said of Martin. “It was great having him on the bench with us. He gives off this indescribable energy when he comes around. People ask me all the time, ‘Do you think he will wrestle again?’ To them I say, ‘If it can be done, he is the one that will do it.’ ”

Socastee’s Justin Knipper (106), Jordan Hodge (113), Adam Powalie (145) and Kyle Burton (220) earned pins for the Braves and St. James’ Steven Deible (170) and DeEante Salaam (182) claimed pins for the Sharks. Socastee’s Mikel Nelson (120) and St. James’ James Sanders (195) won by forfeits.

But the rest of the match was marked by close decisions that had the packed house in a frenzy, highlighted by a heated heavyweight contest that saw Socastee’s Kyle Burton score a 9-8 victory over Jacob Loud and a nail-bitter at 126 that saw St. James’ Randall Nielsen edge Logan Gammon by a 3-2 score.

Other decisions saw Socastee’s Cameron Amann (138) score a 9-4 score over Michael Mewhorter; John Leggett (152) claim a 3-0 shutout of Jude Belanger; and Tommy Lazaroff (160) capture a 6-4 victory over Cameron Volpe. St. James’ Josh Varn (132) took a 10-8 win over Koy Mai for the Sharks.

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