The high school wrestling action heats up in January and several area grapplers enter the New Year ranked among the best in the state in their respective weight classes.
Team and individual rankings are compiled by scmat.com, the statewide authority on prep and college wrestling. According to the latest Class AAAA team rankings, Summerville is third, Ashley Ridge is fifth and Fort Dorchester sixth. All three teams are in Region 8-AAAA.
There are no area teams in AAA or AA that are ranked in the state's top 10.
Individually, six Lowcountry performers are currently ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes. Leading the way is senior Matt Rudy of Cane Bay, the defending state champion at 195 pounds.
Ashley Ridge's Kenny Glover is ranked as the top 285-pounder while Summerville's Anthony Collins is the top-ranked 170-pounder. Fort Dorchester's Quandre Chisolm (220) and AJ Alford (160), along with Summerville's James Sass (113), also head up their respective weight classes.
Goose Creek's Allen Moran is currently ranked second in the 106-pound weight class. Fort Dorchester's Jacob Hutchinson is ranked second at 170 and brother Joseph Hutchinson is ranked second at 182 pounds.
Christian Rubin of Goose Creek is ranked third in AAAA at 152 pounds and Ben Whitney of Ashley Ridge is ranked third at 120 pounds. Fort Dorchester's Tyre Wright (126), Ashley Ridge's Coltyn Remeika (170), and Summerville's Koree Morgan (195) and Julian Gibbs (285) also are ranked third in AAAA.
In the smaller classifications, Bishop England sophomore Jack Grooms is ranked third at 126 pounds and teammate Andrew Collins, a junior, is ranked sixth at 120.
North Charleston's Alex Ramirez is ranked sixth in the 132-pound weight class while Burke's Santarion Frasier is ranked third at 160 pounds.
Pinewood Prep's Grayson Charpia, the defending state SCISA champion at 195 pounds, is currently the top-ranked wrestler in the 220-pound weight classification for the private school league.
Now that all of the holiday basketball tournaments are out of the way, the focus for the next six weeks turns to region play. With postseason berths hinging totally on how teams fare in their respective conference play, this is clearly the most important time of the year.
In Region 7-AAAA, it appears defending state champion Wando is clearly the favorite as the Warriors open region play on Friday against West Ashley. The more interesting battle will be for second place as James Island, Goose Creek and West Ashley appear to have legitimate shots at the runner-up spot.
Region 8-AAAA will be more wide open with Fort Dorchester favored again, but Summerville looks like a legitimate challenger and Ashley Ridge, Bluffton and Colleton County will battle for playoff spots.
Berkeley and Hanahan are the favorites in Region 8-AAA but Beaufort and Orangeburg-Wilkinson are solid programs with good experience returning. Berkeley has been one of the area's early surprises, winning 10 of its first 12 games.
Bishop England hopes to be in contention in Region 6-AA but the region is very balanced, led by Battery Creek and Whale Branch.
In 7-AA, Timberland will face major challenges from Lake Marion and Kingstree, while Burke and Baptist Hill look to be the favorites in 6-A.
On the girls' side, Goose Creek is the early favorite in Region 7-AAAA while defending Region 8-AAAA champion Summerville is favored to repeat.
Orangeburg-Wilkinson is the team to beat in 7-AAA. Perennial power Bishop England may end up as the winner of 6-AA, but the road will be more difficult than it has been in recent years. Academic Magnet and Whale Branch are expected to contend.
Baptist Hill enters Region 6-A play as the prohibitive favorite this season.
Area basketball coaches are reminded to submit updated statistics by 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Statistics for boys and girls basketball will begin running in Friday's Post and Courier. Please email your statistics to firstname.lastname@example.org.