Ashley Ridge falls short in wrestling finals

The Ashley Ridge High wrestling team came up a little short in its bid to win its first-ever state title, falling to Dorman, 34-25, in the Class AAAA duals championship on Saturday afternoon at Dreher High School in Columbia.

The Swamp Foxes finish their best-ever season with a 23-3 record, while Dorman capped its first state championship with a 20-2 record. Dorman defeated the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked teams in the state during its playoff run.

“Dorman was well-balanced, a strong team for sure,” said Ashley Ridge coach Stacey Woods. “I don’t think we wrestled our very best, but Dorman is tough. They did a great job. They’re a team with some seniors and their guys performed well.

“Certainly we had hoped for a better result but I’m really proud of our guys. This was our first time here. It was a great environment and a great experience to be a part of.”

Dorman recorded four pins, including one to open the match in the 152-pound weight class. A pin at 220 pushed the Cavaliers to a 19-6 lead, before Ashley Ridge rallied with three consecutive wins at 285, 106 and 113 pounds to pull within 19-16.

The championship turned in Dorman’s favor after consecutive pins at 120 and 126, pushing the lead to 31-16. Ashley Ridge managed a win at 132, but Dorman sealed the title with a decision at 138.

Most of Ashley Ridge’s lineup will return next season, so Woods expects his program to compete hard for another shot at the crown.

“Getting this close and coming up short just makes us want to work a little harder and get another chance,” Woods said. “Our team is young. We probably achieved more this year than we thought we could. I know I am hungrier now to win and I’m sure my kids will be as well. We fell short this time, but it was a positive experience for our program.”

The season is not over for Ashley Ridge’s wrestlers as they now prepare for the state individual qualifiers next weekend. The state individual championships will be decided on Feb. 27 in Anderson.