Wrestling: NMB advances; Socastee out in first round

Despite coming back from an early deficit, Socastee’s wrestling squad fell to White Knoll by a single point, 35-34, in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs Saturday.

“White Knoll is a very tough team,” Socastee coach Jeff Gibbins said of his team’s opponent. “The difference was our kids got pinned and their kids got beat by decision. The three-point swing difference between a decision and a pin got us.”

Socastee wasn’t the only local  squad to struggle in the opening round Saturday. Carolina Forest lost to Lexington and Conway was routed by Chapin. In Class 4A, Myrtle Beach suffered a 40-36 loss to Brookland Cayce.

Although the Grand Strand’s teams mostly struggled, Class 4A North Myrtle Beach was a bright spot, picking up a 62-12 win over Midland Valley and advancing to the third round.

After winning the region and earning a No. 1 seed, Socastee hosted the Timberwolves. The Ashley Ridge High School Swamp Foxes and the Berkeley High Stags also wrestled at Socastee.

The Braves fell behind early with three losses by pin during the first three matches.

“I thought it was pretty even from the start. We were going to be scratching for every point no matter what,” said senior Tyler Ward, who ended up winning his individual matchup via major decision. “I feel like that (the early pins) motivated us.”

The Braves battled back, winning a decision before another Socastee wrestler was pinned.

The Timberwolves experienced two decision losses, the first of which saw unranked Socastee freshman Javin Hackett defeat ranked sophomore Tylor Shealy.

“That was big for us,” Gibbins said. “He did it in convincing fashion too.”

Socastee senior C.J. Armstrong scored a key pin to make the score 24-15. After another pinning predicament, the Braves fell behind by 15 points.

Socastee scored two more victories in individual matchups, but Quinten Dodd of White Knoll notched a technical fall over freshman Camren Knapper to seal the victory.

Although the Timberwolves forfeited the team’s final two matchups, the squad ended up with a 35-34 victory, going on to face Ashley Ridge in the second round.

“I thought we started to rally back and we finished strong,” Armstrong said. “It was a great team effort.”

Despite the loss, the Braves’ head coach praised his team.

“Our kids wrestled very competitively,” Gibbins said. “We had some matches go our way because we worked for it.”

The coach added that the team saw some of its younger members step up.

“I’m very happy with our underclassmen who have come in,” he said.

Ward, one of the top ranked wrestlers in Class 5A, said the season was a strong one for Socastee.

“It’s definitely not a disappointment because last year we had a team that wasn’t as strong,” he said. “This year we came out of nowhere with a tough team from the start.”

The Braves will now focus on competing for individual honors at the lower state individual tournament at Chapin High School set to take place Feb. 15-16, with the top four in each weight class moving on.

Photo by Viraj Naik/myhorrynews

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