The Ardrey Kell wrestling team had never won the Southwestern 4A tournament title.
Saturday night, the Knights not only changed that by winning the SW4A tournament crown, but did so in true team fashion as all 14 wrestlers placed in the top four of their weight classes as Ardrey Kell knocked off Indepenence at Rocky River High.
Ardrey Kell (12-5, 6-1) became the first SW4A team to beat Independence this season, after the Patriots (26-10) went a perfect 7-0 in conference play to win the regular season title.
Seniors Sean Billings (145), Akio Fujiwara (132), Alex Marbury (120) and junior Jassim Abtelaziz (152) all won conference championships in their respective weight classes to lead Ardrey Kell, but Knights' coach Tim Higgins reiterated that everyone played a key role.
"We needed some kids to step up, and today we got big contributions up and down the lineup," Higgins said, in his sixth year as the Ardrey Kell wrestling coach. "To have all 14 wrestlers place in the top four and get to the medal round says a lot about our team. Every single person brought their 'A' game for us."
While Independence finished second in the tournament, senior Casey Belville and Co. had a record setting day.
Belville, who was the champion at 138 pounds, not only earned the meet's Most Outstanding Wrestler award, but also broke the Independence wrestling all-time wins mark in the process, as he now has 145 career victories (breaking Jake Puckett's 143).
The Patriots' Brian Tiderman (182) and Demetree Hardison (285) also won their respective weight classes.
"We've gotten better and better as a team the last three years," Independence wrestling coach Benjamin Barry said. "I was very pleased with our efforts all year. We've had some key injuries lately (losing Donald Moye (106), Dylan Cowart (113) that have hurt us, but we just have to keep fighting."
Butler's Matthew Bennett, the 4A state runner-up last year, also won his 220-pound weight class title.
Independence will go on the road Tuesday night in the state dual tournament, where it will take on Mooresville in the first round, and if they win, will face the winner of Alexander Central and Davie County also that night.
Ardrey Kell must travel to defending state champion Parkland, where the winner of Dudley and T.C. Roberson will be waiting in the second round on Tuesday night.
Both teams will then go the 4A West Regionals Feb. 17-18 at Watauga High School before heading to the individual state tournament in Greensboro Feb. 23-25, for those wrestlers who qualify.
TEAM SCORES: 1. Ardrey Kell 212, 2. Independence 167, 3. South Mecklenburg 148, 4. Myers Park 104, 5. Providence 91, 6. Butler 69.5, 7. (tie) East Mecklenburg, Rocky River 27.
106:Kush Shah (Butler) tech. fall Wesley Wiebel (South Mecklenburg) 17-2; 113: Jose Cadena (Myers Park) p. Trevor Jacobs (Providence), 3:45; 120: Alex Marbury (Ardrey Kell) p. Adam Pelter (Butler) 3:55; 126: Klevar Mason (South Mecklenburg) d. Lemuel Gipson (Independence) 8-7; 132: Akio Fujiwara (Ardrey Kell) d. Brett Barber (South Mecklenburg) 3-1; 138: Casey Belville (Independence) p. Patrick Dickey (Ardrey Kell) 1:26; 145: Sean Billings (Ardrey Kell) p. Jacob Coss (South Mecklenburg) 2:45; 152: Jassim Abdelaziz (Ardrey Kell) p. Jay Karbach (Independence) 0:58; 160: Nick Colluccielo (Providence) d. William Crotty (Myers Park) 10-6; 170: Keelan Bozman (South Mecklenburg) d. Zach Blossfeld (Ardrey Kell) 13-9; 182: Brian Tiderman (Independence) p. Jake Bradshaw (Myers Park) 4:54; 195: Drew Barrett (East Mecklenburg) d. Josh Matos (Independence) 7-5; 220: Matt Bennett (Butler) p. Danny Gonzalez (South Mecklenburg) 4:12; 285: Demetree Hardison (Independence) d. Alexander Crockett (Myers Park) 3-2.
106: Weston Jordan (Myers Park) p. Nick Grosse (Ardrey Kell) 3:11; 113: Griffin Keatley (Ardrey Kell) d. Collin Stewart (South Mecklenburg) 10-4; 120: Winston Schuler (South Mecklenburg) d. Taylor Martin (Myers Park) 5-3; 126: Alex Clute (Ardrey Kell) maj. dec. Jakob Nicholls (Providence) 13-0; 132: Mason Courter (Independence) p. Aaron Grant (East Mecklenburg) 2:08; 138: Jake Clewis (Butler) p. Michael Maughan (Providence) 2:51; 145: Alain Abreu (Independence) p. Daniel Pugh (Providence) 1:40; 152: Jacob Biddlecom (Providence) p. Chris Davidson (Rocky River) 1:16; 160: Merrick Osborne (Ardrey Kell) maj. dec. Christian Witte (Independence) 11-3; 170: David Diehl (Providence) p. Jordan Parks (Rocky River) 2:17; 182: Justin Dominique (Ardrey Kell) p. Aaron Cole (Rocky River) 2:18; 195:Adrain Smith (South Mecklenburg) p. Danny Kim (Ardrey Kell) 2:46; 220: Charlie Kurtz (Independence) p. Hayden White (Ardrey Kell) 1:23; 285: Matt McCarthy (Ardrey Kell) d. Joey Moody (Butler) 3-2.