ROCK HILL – The Catawba Ridge wrestling team ran the gauntlet Wednesday night at South Pointe and won four matches in the Region 3-4A dual tournament to take their first ever region wrestling title.
In an unusual format, the region champion was decided in a five round, quad match tournament with each team wrestling the four other teams in the region all in one night. For Catawba Ridge, they wrestled two matches, got a bye, and then wrestled the final two matches of the evening.
The unranked Copperheads pulled out a 39-38 win over 4A’s fourth ranked Indian Land Warriors to win the region title. They also locked in a first-round playoff bye and will be hosting in the second round of the playoffs on Saturday, Feb. 5. This is also the first time the Copperheads’ wrestling program has made the playoffs.
Catawba Ridge’s match against Indian Land was back-and-forth until about midway through when the Copperheads took a 21-15 lead on an Aiden Shaffery pin at 106-pounds. Indian Land then forfeited at 113 and 120-pounds to give Catawba Ridge a 33-15 lead.
The Warriors then got a tech fall at 126-pounds before Jakob Kees (132) got a second period pin to make it 39-20 and lock up the region title. Catawba Ridge lost the last three matches, two of them purposely by forfeit. With the win, the Copperheads are now 18-6 on the year.
Catawba Ridge head coach Allen Runyon said he knew this season was going to be about hard work.
“I knew we were going to have to come in and wrestle really tough,” he said. “I knew we could compete if we stayed off our backs. I knew this year we had a lot of work to do. I am super proud of them. They got what they deserved and are region champs.”
The Copperheads and Indian Land volleyed back-and-forth through the first six matches with the match being tied three times during that stretch. Forrest Rozelle (160) opened the match for Catawba Ridge getting a second period pin, with both Nate Teel (182) getting a win by pin and Tony Atkins (heavyweight) getting a 3-1 decision in the closing seconds to tie the match at 15-15.
Both Indian Land and Catawba Ridge came in the match at 3-0 in region competition as the Warriors showed their vulnerability against South Pointe who lost to them 40-39 based on criteria in an earlier round. Indian Land finished second in the region at 3-1 and South Pointe was third at 2-2, both of them will also make the 4A playoffs as there are only three teams slated from Region 3-4A to go to the playoffs this season.
Before the Indian Land match, Catawba Ridge beat York 57-24. The Copperheads led wire-to-wire as the following wrestlers got wins – Jarrett Eubanks (152), Rozelle (160), N. Teel (182), Alex Bunz (220), Atkins (hwt.), Alex Teel (113), Clark Ostendorf (120), Connor Stukitz (126), Kees (132) and Levi Jones (145).
Catawba Ridge also had no trouble with Lancaster for the second half of the match as they won 60-24. The two teams traded the lead four times with the Copperheads grabbing the lead at 24-18 and not relinquishing it. Lancaster went up on the Copperheads on two different occasions, but Catawba Ridge was able to come right back and get wins. Getting wins in the match were Eubanks (152), N. Teel (182), Jacob Webster (195), Bunz (220), Atkins (hwt.), Shaffery (106), A. Teel (113), Ostendorf (120), and Kees (132).
The Copperheads match against South Pointe opened the dual tournament for both teams as Catawba Ridge got the 48-30 win and led throughout. Catawba Ridge went up 18-6 with Kees (132) getting a pin, along with Jackson Rozelle (138) and Eubanks (152) in three of the first four matches. South Pointe rallied to tie the match at 18-18, but then Catawba Ridge got a pin from N. Teel (182), but the Stallions would come right back to tie the match again at 24-24.
Catawba Ridge started to pull away after that as they won five of the last six matches with Bunz (220) getting a 7-0 decision, Atkins (hwt.) winning 8-7 in overtime and pins from Shaffery (106), A. Teel (113), and Stukitz (126).
Up next for the Catawba Ridge wrestling team is the individual region tournament Saturday, Jan. 29 at York.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep