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Effingham County's Royal wins national wrestling title
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Isiah Royal
Newberry's Isiah Royal jumps into a coach's arms after winning the title Saturday night. - photo by Photo submitted
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- It's been a wild ride for senior Isiah Royal over the last year, having gone from having the 2020 NCAA Division II championships cancelled to sitting on top of the championship podium after beating St. Cloud State's Joey Banchini 5-4 in the national championship match Saturday night. This is his first national championship, and just the fourth all-time for the Wolves. The last national champion for Newberry was current assistant coach Bryant Blanton in 2010. 

"It feels great," Royal, a 141-pound former Effingham County High School standout, commented after the match. "I can't really explain it, it still hasn't hit me all the way yet, but it's a blessing. This is a blessing."

Royal wasted no time in the national championship match, hitting a duck under for a takedown just five seconds into the match. Bianchini recorded an equally as quick escape before getting a takedown of his own to take a 3-2 lead into the second period. 

After Royal deferred his choice, Bianchini chose to start the second period in the bottom position. After allowing an escape in 15 seconds, Royal hit a single leg takedown with 1:30 left in the period, though Bianchini recorded another escape to take a 5-4 lead into the third period. 

In the final frame, Royal started in the bottom position and needed just 26 second to escape, tying the match at 5. Royal would hit the winning takedown with 40 seconds left, though Bianchini recorded an escape 10 seconds later. In the final seconds Royal was able to hold off multiple takedown attempts to take home the national championship trophy.

"I gotta get one," Royal told when asked afterward about what was going through his mind during the third period. "I gotta take the lead and can't blow it."

Royal won three state titles at Effingham County.