Going into Friday’s night match with South Mecklenburg, Ardrey Kell wrestling coach Tim Higgins said he just wanted his team to have a chance to make the playoffs.
Down 33-6 to the Sabres, it didn’t look good for the Knights.
But Ardrey Kell (11-6, 6-1) not only roared back Friday beating South Meck 39-36, but carried that momentum into Saturday’s South Meck 8 conference tournament, where they claimed their second league (tournament) title.
The Knights, who also won the 2012 Southwestern 4A tournament, scored 190 points to edge regular-season champion Charlotte Catholic by 7.5 points and South Meck by 21.5 points.
“It’s hard to believe what has happened in the last 24 hours,” said Higgins, who admitted he slept only about three hours Friday night he was so fired up. “I knew this team could win (the tournament title), but the way we did it was crazy. I’m elated for the kids. I really think the way we came back and beat South (Meck) (Friday night) was a springboard that helped us win the tournament. This really puts an exclamation on our season.”
While all 12 Ardrey Kell wrestlers who competed Saturday finished in the top four, Knights’ seniors Tyler Bizjack (160-pound weight class), Chris Mairson (220) and junior Nic Chance (152) led the way, each winning their individual conference weight class conference championships.
The Knights’ Avery Harris and Justin Dominique also scored key points as runner-ups.
Meanwhile, Higgins also noted the Patrick Dickey (145) was huge, fighting through pain to finish third-place.
“Every single person on our team stepped up today,” said Higgins, whose team will play in the 4A dual playoffs starting Tuesday. “…We don’t have any stars, we don’t have any that is state ranked. But I think that makes what we accomplished even more special.”
Charlotte Catholic, who was unbeaten in regular-season South Meck conference action, was led by Spencer Hayes, who won the 171-pound championship.
Meanwhile, South Meck had five conference champions, including Collin Stewart, Klevar Mason , Blake Barber , Joseph Coss and Louis Esposito.
Host Providence also had two champions in Ryan Keefe and Michael Maughan.
West Meck’s Irwin Williams, the 138-pound conference champion, was also named the meet’s most outstanding wrestler.
Olympic’s Nathan Wheeler and Berry’s Isaiah Jones also won their respective, individual conference titles.
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