Toast of the Coast

North Myrtle Beach’s Wolfe is The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast wrestler of the year

North Myrtle Beach’s Curtis Wolfe wrestles St. James' Will Stewart during a match this past season.
North Myrtle Beach’s Curtis Wolfe wrestles St. James' Will Stewart during a match this past season. jlee@thesunnews

The day Carl Dukes took the reins of the North Myrtle Beach wrestling program, he emphasized the need for a “culture change” built on unselfishness, confidence and hard work.

Still, to achieve those three key pillars, he knew it would take help. Little did he figure one of the squad’s younger, rising stars would take up his share of slack ... and more.

“There would be times where I sometimes would leave to handle some of the matters of being a coach, and I’d come back to practice and (wrestler Curtis Wolfe) had taken charge,” Dukes said. “Practice did not miss a beat while I was gone. He ran the show for me pretty much while I was gone.

“We’re creating a culture of unselfishness and progress. He’s a great example of that.”

So it came with pride that with after every one of Wolfe’s accomplishments, Dukes was one of the first to meet share a hug, shed a tear or offer congratulations and words of encouragement.

For the 2016-17 season, the North Myrtle Beach sophomore was one of the area’s most decorated wrestlers. Among the accomplishments was an Horry-Georgetown wrestling tourney and Region VII-4A title at 170 pounds, while finishing second at the Lower State 4A individual tournament and fourth in Class 4A in the weight division.

Add another notch to that belt for Wolfe, who is The Sun News’ Toast of the Coast Wrestler of the Year.

(Wolfe) represents us well. There is a reason he received the team’s ‘Coach’s Award’ at our recent banquet. He’s gotten to the point where even when he loses there is a lesson to be learned, so we will be better the next time around – because we will see that same wrestler or a similar strategy down the road. That has trickled down from him throughout our program, as well.

North Myrtle Beach wrestling coach Carl Dukes

“I’m extremely proud of him,” Dukes said. “The progress he made over the past year, it was amazing and he benefited from the hard work he put in. I expect him to work even harder next year, and have faith he’ll win it.”

Dukes particularly hearkened back to the sophomore wrestler’s performance at the Horry-Georgetown wrestling championships, where he officially thrust his name into the conversation as one of the top talents pound-for-pound in the area.

Performing in front of friends and family, he was barely challenged en route to a tournament championship. Shortly afterward, Wolfe could be seen shedding a few tears – expressing how much the opportunity – and the moment, for that matter – meant to him.

“Words can’t explain,” he said. “I want to thank my team and family for pushing me out there everyday, making sure I’m doing the right things. Just me never giving up, because I love this sport and I love doing what I’m doing. You have to make sacrifices for this sport to do good.

“There is such a fire in me knowing I can do it, believing in myself. By (winning the tourney title), it tells me I can make it further and keep doing what I’m doing.”

In the mind of Dukes, it provides him a morsel of knowledge and belief the North Myrtle Beach program is headed in the right direction.

“(Wolfe) represents us well. There is a reason he received the team’s ‘Coach’s Award’ at our recent banquet,” he said. “He’s gotten to the point where even when he loses, there is a lesson to be learned so we will be better the next time around, because we will see that same wrestler or a similar strategy down the road. That has trickled down from him throughout our program, as well. Curtis is one of those guys who will be our cornerstone next year, a part of a team that loses no one.

“His focus nor that of our team was to win a region title. It was merely icing on the cake. His belief and that of the team to keep believing and pushing, helped them realize goals they probably didn’t even believe were achievable.”

EDITOR’S NOTE

This is the first installment of a three-day series honoring the top athletes from the winter high school sports season. Tomorrow: Girls basketball.

Toast of the Coast wrestling team

Wrestler of the Year

Curtis Wolfe

School: North Myrtle Beach

Year: Sophomore

Weight: 170 pounds

Notable: In addition to claiming the Horry-Georgetown wrestling tournament title at the 170-pound level, he went on to claim a Region VII-4A title both individually and with his North Myrtle Beach teammates. Wolfe finished second in the Lower State 4A championship and fourth at Class 4A state individual meet.

Drake Carroll

School: Aynor

Year: Sophomore

Weight: 170 pounds

Notable: Was 24-6 this past season, en route to a fourth place finish at Class 3A state individual wrestling tournament. He was undefeated against competition in Horry County, including when he stepped up in weight class to claim the 182-pound title at the Horry-Georgetown wrestling tournament.

Stephen Desjardins

School: Myrtle Beach

Year: Senior

Weight: 182 pounds

Notable: Finished with a 31-7 record this past season, earning the 100th win of his career this past season. A North-South All-Star selection and two-time state qualifier, he was the state runner-up in Class 4A at 182 pounds.

Brandon Ellis

School: St. James

Year: Senior

Weight: 145 pounds

Notable: A two-time state qualifier, he won each of his first 31 matches this past season before settling for a 37-4 overall mark. Leaves school with more than 100 wins under his belt, in addition to being named to the North-South All-Star team.

Kwame Livingston

School: North Myrtle Beach

Year: Junior

Weight: 285 pounds

Notable: A state qualifier as a heavyweight, the North Myrtle Beach bruiser claimed second place in Lower State 4A and fourth at the Class 4A state tournament. He also claimed an added token of bragging rights, earning top honors at the Horry-Georgetown wrestling tournament.

Ethan Mason

School: St. James

Year: Freshman

Weight: 106 pounds

Notable: A state qualifier as a freshman, he also finished with an undefeated record in Region VII-4A competition en route to a 28-5 overall record this season. He also earned the Horry-Georgetown wrestling tourney title for his weight class.

Brennan Michael

School: North Myrtle Beach

Year: Junior

Weight: 145 pounds

Notable: For the second consecutive year, Michael qualified for the state individual tournament, this time as the Lower State 4A champion in the 145-pound weight class. He spent much of the season ranked as one of Class 4A’s top wrestlers in the division, according to SCMAT, finishing with a fourth-place finish at the state individual tournament.

Pedro Reyes

School: Myrtle Beach

Year: Junior

Weight: 220 pounds

Notable: Finished with 21-3 record this past season, in the process earning the Horry-Georgetown wrestling tourney title in the 220-pound weight class. He also qualified for the state individual wrestling tournament for a second time in 2016-17 season.

Seth Sarvis

School: Aynor

Year: Junior

Weight: 126 pounds

Notable: A Lower State 3A champion in his weight class, he finished the season ranked No. 4 among all grapplers in Class 3A's 126-pound division by SCMAT.

Will Stewart

School: St. James

Year: Senior

Weight: 170 pounds

Notable: Finished season with an overall 24-8 mark. A state qualifier, he advanced to the Class 4A semifinal round before bowing out.

Eugene Utley

School: Socastee

Year: Senior

Weight: 120 pounds

Notable: Finished 31-8 this past season, en route to being named an All-Region VI-5A performer. Put a bow on his career in which he claimed 104 wins and an Horry-Georgetown wrestling tournament title at the 120-pound level.

Rahsaan Vereen

School: North Myrtle Beach

Year: Junior

Weight: 152 pounds

Notable: A state qualifier for the second straight year, the North Myrtle Beach standout finished fourth among all grapplers in Class 4A at the 152-pound level. He also finished second in the Lower State 4A tournament in the weight class.

John Winzenried

School: Carolina Forest

Year: Junior

Weight: 153 pounds

Notable: A two-time state qualifier at 153 pounds, he won the Horry-Georgetown County wrestling tournament and an individual Region VI-5A title in the same weight class. He is currently ranked fifth among all grapplers in Class 5A in the division.

P.J. Wunderlich

School: Carolina Forest

Year: Junior

Weight: 113 pounds

Notable: A state qualifier, he finished as the No. 8 wrestler in Class 4A in the 113-pound weight class. He also earned an Horry-Georgetown wrestling tourney title, doing so with a hurt groin.

Coach of the Year

Carl Dukes

School: North Myrtle Beach

Notable: In his first season as North Myrtle Beach wrestling coach, he led the program to the Region VII-4A title – its first league crown since 2006.

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