Wave wrestlers set sights on another title

Summerville wrestler James Sass (top) is seeking an individual state title in the 106-pound classification after finishing second last winter and third in 2012.

Rock Hill High School’s wrestling team owns 15 state championships. Not far behind is Summerville with 11.

The teams have spent most of the season ranked Nos. 1 and 2, so it only makes sense the rivals will meet in the state duals meet in March.

But Summerville coach Darryl Tucker sounds a little bit like college football analyst Lee Corso when he says “not so fast.”

“You can’t look that far into the future,” Tucker said. “You have teams like Ashley Ridge and Lexington, the defending Class AAAA state champ in the Lower State. You can’t look ahead and only focus on Rock Hill. You have to take care of things a little closer to home before you can think about winning the state.”

Still, there’s enough talent at Summerville to capture the Green Wave’s first state title since 2008.

The team had a very busy and productive December to prepare for Region 8-AAAA competition.

The Green Wave finished second in the Southern Slam in Greenville. They finished sixth in the 64-team Savannah Seahawk slam. They won the Cane Bay Duals and the Military Duals, which was contested at Lexington High School.

The talent is typical for the Green Wave and begins at the 106-pound classification, where junior James Saas is No. 1 in the state.

“He’s come close in the past,” Tucker said. “We’re definitely expecting big things from him.”

Chad Wood has also been a force in the 152-pound division. He was second at the state meet last year and was fourth in the 138-pound division as a sophomore.

“He’s the ultimate team leader,” Tucker said of Wood. “He definitely turns the intensity level up when he steps onto the mat. He’s one of the hardest- working kids to come through the Summerville program.”

Senior Daniel Smith is one of the top athletes in the 145-pound classification.

“Smith is probably the most athletic kid I coached and probably one of the hardest-working wrestlers we have. I think he is going to open some eyes at state.”

John Van Slooten will be part of the picture for the individual state title in the 152-pound class. He transferred from Waccamaw, where he was a three-time state champion. He won gold at 145 pounds the past two winters at the Class AA-A level and was state champion at the Class AAA level in 2010 at 140.

Other key wrestlers include Justin Connelly, Jamal Lucas, Corey Alumbaugh, Julian Gibbs and Anthony Collins.

A lot can happen between now and Feb. 15 when the state duals championships are held at Dreher High School. Injuries, upsets and motivation will define the tournaments.

The state individual championships will be held Feb. 28-March 1 at Anderson.

“It takes a lot to win a state championship,” Tucker said. “These kids know that. They see the banners, the trophies and how they got here. Getting to the state championship, that’s always the goal at Summerville. We look good on paper, but have to be better on the mat.”