Wrestling heavyweights Summerville, Rock Hill to battle for Class AAAA state title
The wait is over.
South Carolina's high school wrestling titans - Rock Hill and Summerville - will battle for the Class AAAA state championship Wednesday at White Knoll High School in Lexington. Rock Hill is the all-time leader with 15 state titles. Summerville is No. 2 on the list with 11 championships.
But it's been a while since either team has appeared in the state finals.
Rock Hill hasn't won a state title since 2009 when the Bearcats defeated Fort Dorchester. Their last appearance in the state match was in 2010 when they lost to Fort Dorchester.
Summerville's last appearance was in 2008. That year the Green Wave beat Rock Hill in the state championship.
The five-year drought between appearances is the second longest in Green Wave history.
This will mark Darryl Tucker's first appearance as head coach at the state championship. He wrestled at Summerville from 1990-93 and was a member of two state championship teams. He also served as an assistant under Kenny Walker when it seemed like every state championship pitted the Wave against the Bearcats.
"I was hoping that it wouldn't take this long to get back," said Tucker, whose team advanced to Wednesday's 7 p.m. showdown with a victory over Lexington. "To win a state championship is not easy, especially at this level. But it is right out there in front of us."
Tucker says every championship team he's been a part of has left a lasting impression.
"There's no better feeling," Tucker said. "There's only one team crowned champ at the end of the season, and that's a distinction you carry with you for the rest of your life. We just want these wrestlers to be part of that Summerville family."
The Green Wave received a scare Saturday when 220-pounder Julian Gibbs injured his shoulder. He worried that he broke his collarbone, but was checked and cleared by his doctor.
"I'm still a little sore, but it's not broken," Gibbs said. "I'm good to go. I will block that out. I won't think about anything but winning and having that trophy at the end of the night."
Summerville's Chad Wood will wrestle in his final team match Wednesday. He's ranked No. 5 in the state in the 170-pound classification and wants to close the team phase of the season with a victory.
"We haven't been there since 2008 which means nobody on this team has been there, done that," he said. "We want to embrace the challenge. We want to embrace being state champs."
James Saas, the top-ranked wrestler in the state at 106 pounds, is a junior. He's had second- and third-place finishes at the state individual matches. He's thinking about only team results Wednesday.
"I think it is going to be very intense," he said. "I know it will be intense because it is Summerville against Rock Hill."