HANAHAN -- Finally.
The Hanahan Hawks wrestling team is going to the Class AA state championship.
The Hawks defeated Loris 42-25 Wednesday night in the Class AA Lower State championship to reach Saturday's title match at Dreher High School.
The Hawks will wrestle Chesnee, a 45-24 winner over Broome.
Last year, the Hawks seemed to have a trip to the state title match in the bag with a 34-33 victory over Loris in the Lower State championship. But Hanahan's dream of a state wrestling championship was dashed when the South Car-olina High School League ruled the Hawks used an ineligible athlete and had to forfeit the match to Loris.
Hanahan appealed and finally conceded, bringing closure to an otherwise sensational season. This year, the Hawks were all business in gaining a trip to the big match.
"Our kids have worked hard all year," Hanahan coach Ray Adkins said. "We beat a great Loris team tonight. Our kids are Lower State champs. The match speaks for itself. The kids did a great job."
The Hawks fell behind 11-0, but won seven straight matches to take an insurmountable 36-11 lead with four matches remaining. Joseph Clemit gave the Hawks the Lower State title when he was awarded a penalty point against Denzel Strayhorne in the 189-pound division. That gave the Hawk wrestler a 6-5 decision and the Hawks a 25-point lead. Hanahan could have forfeited the last four matches of the evening and still managed a one-point win.
But Adkins gave his wrestlers a workout. J.J. Johnson concluded the evening with a pin of Markquell McLeod in the final seconds of the 112-pound division.
"Everybody had a job to do," Adkins said. "I realized we had the win at a certain point in the match. But I wanted to give everyone a chance to do their job."
The turning point of the match came in the 135-pound division when Brian Joseph recorded a pin against Kiheem Grate to cut Loris' lead to 11-10. That allowed Adkins to move Francis Boykin, Cody Hancock, Dennis Flores and Caleb Harvey up a division. Boykin won on a forfeit, Hancock won on a decision, Flores recorded a pin and Harvey won on a major decision to give the Hawks a 29-11 lead.
"Brian came in and did a great job," Adkins said.
103: Williams (L) dec. over Murray. 112: Johnson (H) p. McLeod. 119: Griffin (L) p. King. 125: Gore (L) tech. fall over Brule. 130: Horlbeck (H) major dec. over Grate, 21-10. 135: Joseph (H) p. Grate: 140: Boykin (H) forfeit. 145: Hancock (H) dec. White, 5-2. 152: Flores (H) p. Mejia. 160: Harvey (H) major dec. Wilson, 17-6. 171: Thompson (H) major dec. Jenrette, 15-1. 189: Clemit (H) dec. Strayhorne, 6-5. 215: Griffin (L) major dec. Christie, 15-5. HWT: Butler p. Farley