Aynor wrestling coach John Morello will be the first to admit his squad is chock full of youth, the roster featuring only one senior.
Sometimes, age is nothing but a number … particularly when blessed with one-of-a-kind skills on the mat.
The Blue Jackets showcased what made them one of the better teams on the Grand Strand on Saturday, qualifying five wrestlers for this weekend’s state Class 3A individual tournament.
Two of the grapplers — Dalen Johnson and Seth Sarvis — claimed Lower State titles at the 120- and 126-pound weight classes, respectively. Also qualifying for the state individual tournament were Jayshawn Dixon (138 pounds), Dreqwan McCray (145 pounds) and Drake Carroll (170 pounds).
Of the Blue Jackets earning a trip to the state tourney, three will be first-time participants.
“I thought we did well in the fact that we had only one senior on our team, and he didn’t qualify,” Morello said. “I was excited about the fact that our young guys were given the chance to go and see what it’s like (at the Lower State wrestling individual tournament).”
Aynor wasn’t the only Grand Strand squad to earn their share of spots at this weekend’s Class 3A state wrestling championships, with Georgetown, Loris and Waccamaw wrestlers trapping two spots apiece.
In Class 4A, it was not a bad day on the mat for North Myrtle Beach, which qualifying four wrestlers in the state individual wrestling tournament.
A strong season for Brennan Michael continued at the Lower State meet, where the Chiefs standout claimed top honors in the 145-pound weight class. In the title match, he held off Beaufort’s Justin Campbell, 6-3.
Other Chiefs to qualify for the state individual meet include Rahsaan Vereen (152 pounds), Curtis Wolfe (170 pounds) and Kwame Livingston (285 pounds).
Three St. James grapplers will compete for a Class 4A individual title, as Ethan Mason (106 pounds), Brandon Ellis (145 pounds) and Will Stewart (170 pounds) each qualified. Also qualifying were Myrtle Beach’s Stephen Desjardins (182 pounds) and Pedro Reyes (220 pounds).
Carolina Forest will send four wrestlers to the Class 5A state individual wrestling championships, led by standout John Winzenried, who finished second in the 152-pound weight class. Other Panthers earning spots include Matt Ashworth (106 pounds), P.J. Wunderlich (113 pounds) and Noah Sritan (138 pounds).
Jody Hiott will carry the banner for Conway at the Class 5A meet, qualifying in the 220-pound weight division with a third-place finish.
The state individual wrestling tournament will take place at the Civic Center of Anderson, with action set to start Friday at 11 a.m.
State individual final qualifiers
Class 5A qualifiers
106 pounds: Matt Ashworth, Carolina Forest (third place)
113 pounds: P.J. Wunderlich, Carolina Forest (fourth place)
138 pounds: Noah Sritan, Carolina Forest (fourth place)
152 pounds: John Winzenried, Carolina Forest (second place)
220 pounds: Jody Hiott, Conway (third place)
Class 4A qualifiers
106 pounds: Ethan Mason, St. James (third place)
145 pounds: Brennan Michael, North Myrtle Beach (Lower State champion)
145 pounds: Brandon Ellis, St. James (third place)
152 pounds: Rahsaan Vereen, North Myrtle Beach (second place)
170 pounds: Curtis Wolfe, North Myrtle Beach (second place); Will Stewart, St. James (third place)
182 pounds: Stephen Desjardins, Myrtle Beach (second place)
220 pounds: Pedro Reyes, Myrtle Beach (third place)
285 pounds: Kwame Livingston, North Myrtle Beach (second place)
Class 3A qualifiers
106 pounds: Ken Leizar, Waccamaw (second place); Lorenzo Wallace, Loris (third place)
113 pounds: Jackson Clemson, Waccamaw (third place)
120 pounds: Dalen Johnson, Aynor (Lower State champion)
126 pounds: Seth Sarvis, Aynor (Lower State champion)
138 pounds: Jayshawn Dixon, Aynor (second place)
145 pounds: Dreqwan McCray, Aynor (fourth place)
152 pounds: Ming Hampton, Georgetown (third place); James Walter, Loris (fourth place)
285 pounds: Marquis Britton, Georgetown (second place)
170 pounds: Drake Carroll, Aynor (fourth place)