Collin Stewart is driven to earn a state wrestling title.
The South Mecklenburg senior took the first on Saturday by winning the SoMeck 4A 120-pound championship on the Sabres’ home mat. Stewart, who finished third in the state last season, pinned Providence’s Ryan Keefe in 1 minute, 23 seconds in the final to help South Mecklenburg to the team championship.
“It’s important just because it’s conference, but it’s a step toward my final goal, which is winning a championship at regionals and states,” said Stewart, who earned the most outstanding wrestler trophy.
South Mecklenburg dominated the final round with nine Sabres advancing and five winning championships. In addition to Stewart, Carlos Medina-Lesmes (106), Chris Moungle (145), Blake Barber (152) and Jacob Norby (170) earned titles for the Sabres, who scored 203.5 points. Providence finished second at 165 points while Ardrey Kell was third at 115 and Charlotte Catholic at 100.5.
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“I’m just very proud of how the kids did,” South coach Jeff Keiser said. “To have (multiple) kids finishing in the top two, that’s a pretty good day.
“Wednesday wasn’t one of our better matches, but today we kind of got re-focused a little bit and some kids came back and wrestled really well.”
Stewart was one of them, gaining the upper hand against Keefe quickly in the final before pinning him 83 seconds into the match, one of seven to end within 90 seconds.
“I went out and wrestled; do what I normally do,” Stewart said. “Normally things work out, so I just wrestle my best and hope it turns out. I put in a lot of work. After that it’s wrestle and have fun.”
South Mecklenburg’s depth and experience paid dividends throughout the tournament. Aside from the Sabres who won their classes, four others made the final to pad South’s cushion against Providence, which went 3-4 in the finals.
“We had couple of weight classes to give us some good matches,” Keiser said. “(Erik Fletcher at 132 pounds) gave us a big boost and we have six kids who’ve been producing all year and they came through again today.”