Though not official, it is safe to assume Cane Bay clinched a third consecutive region title in wrestling with a 36-32 win over Berkeley County rival Stratford on Wednesday night.
The Cobras need to win one of their two remaining matches with Wando and Berkeley to officially claim the trophy but the state’s sixth-ranked team in Class AAAAA will be heavily favored in both matches.
The championship will mark the third straight for coach Tim Wash and his program, winning the last two years on the Class AAAA level.
After Stratford opened the night with Lance Elrod’s win at 106 pounds, the Cobras picked up key pins by Jacob Simmons (113), Domenic D’Antico (120) and Dougie Metts (126) to build an early 18-3 lead.
Preston Soriano picked up a decision at 132 but Cane Bay’s Ralph Inge pulled a mild upset at 138, beating one of the state’s top wrestlers in Josh Maningding, 6-4, to give the Cobras a 21-6 lead.
“The biggest match of the night was Ralph winning his match and that was an upset,” Wash said. “Tristen Rivera (170) and Ethan Gehling (152) didn’t get pinned and that’s the thing that has been killing us all year, the pins. So happy for them to fight for the whole match.”
Cody Ladd earned a 6-5 win at 145. Stratford’s Vito Dorio beat Gehling and Stratford forfeited at 160, allowing Cane Bay to go up, 30-10.
Stratford earned 16 straight points to close the gap to 30-26, but Cane Bay’s Chase Smith, who is the top-ranked AAAAA wrestler at 220 and undefeated this season, clinched the team victory with a third period pin.
“Who else would you want to end the match for you than Chase Smith,” Wash said. “I can’t say enough about our kids and how about our fans? They really showed up tonight. I have the best supporting administration in the state, bar none.
“And my wife, Cherie. She was up all night making each wrestler a poster with glitter and all. She’s our number one fan.”
The state duals playoffs begin on February 2nd and with a region title, Cane Bay would host the first three matches at home. Wash feels his team is peaking at the right time.
“We’ve got eight seniors and we have some kids who never wrestled before who are fighting their butts off,” Wash said. “If we can avoid getting pinned and win where we are supposed to win, we can win some in the playoffs.”