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Mustangs third, Rebels fourth at Mustang Invitational
Battery Creek edges Bluffton for title
Effingham County’s Josh Barnhill gets a grip on Benedictine’s Nick Wright in their match in the 112-pound finals of the Mustang Invitational. Barnhill pinned Wright for the victory. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

It’s been a busy start to the high school wrestling season. And there’s still a long way to go.

Battery Creek (S.C.) ended South Effingham’s one-year reign as champions of the Mustangs’ own tournament, winning the Mustang Invitational by 2.5 points over Bluffton (S.C.). South Effingham finished third in the 13-team field with 196.5 points.

The Mustangs had five wrestlers in the finals of their respective weight classes, with Josh Jameson winning at 135, and 10 place finishers.

“We’ve got some room for improvement,” Mustangs coach Tom Onorato said. “I’m not down on the kids. We haven’t wrestled to our potential. I think they know that. It’s not a matter of winning the tournament — it’s what you’re capable of doing and doing what you set out to do.”

Effingham County was fourth with 188 points, but the Rebels claimed three individual titles. Josh Barnhill won at 112 pounds, Kevin Ulmer won the 125 class and Zach Gilliam took 130.

The Rebels entered the tournament short-handed, with one wrestler taking the SAT and another out with an ankle injury. They still managed to have 11 wrestlers place.

“We had a good tournament,” Rebels coach Chris Hardin said. “It was good for our guys to get competition.”

Kyle Piche made the finals of the 103-pound class, losing to John Perry of Battery Creek. Wade Hall (119) and Bruce Smith (135) took third for the Rebels.

“Bruce Smith stepped up big,” Hardin said. “He’s only been wrestling a month. Kyle Piche stepped up big.”

Bluffton had three first-place finishers and Battery Creek had two weight-class champions. Benedictine, which finished fifth, had three firsts.

“We knew when we have the schools from the Hilton Head area and Effingham County and Benedictine, you’re going to wrestle some good competition,” Onorato said. “We were glad to get good, hard matches. It’s the only way of we can get an evaluation of where we are.

“It was a good weekend in being able to have our strengths and weaknesses exposed and to reaffirm in our mind we have to work really hard to be good.”

Onorato said his wrestlers were disappointed in how they performed, and their reaction is a good thing.

“It would worry me if they weren’t disappointed,” he said. “In a twisted way, I’m glad they’re not happy. We’re making too many mistakes. The good thing is the effort is there. We’re not panicking. We have time to get better.”

There were some bright spots for the Mustangs, starting with Jameson.

“Josh is bringing good intensity,” Onorato said. “I like the way he approaches things and the way he’s wrestling.”

It was also a good showing for some of Onorato’s younger wrestlers, some of whom couldn’t crack the lineup a year ago.

“You see their hard work pay off,” he said, pointing to Brandon Huggins, who lost to BC’s Chris Scott in the 275 finals. “I was really excited on how they wrestled.”

Team standings
Battery Creek, 207
Bluffton, 204.5
South Effingham, 196.5
Effingham County, 188
Benedictine, 168
Cross Creek, 103.5
Hephzibah, 81
Beaufort County, 46.5
Beach, 46
Metter, 40
Richmond Academy, 27
Savannah Arts Academy, 16
Savannah High, 13

Place winners
1 — John Perry, Battery Creek
2 — Kyle Piche, Effingham County
3 — Jonathan Davis, Cross Creek
4 — Jared Fouke, Bluffton
5 — Tyler Fulcher, Benedictine

1 — Josh Barnhill, Effingham County
2 — Nick Wright, Benedictine
3 — Nate Plavcan, Bluffton
4 — Dave Roney, Battery Creek
5 — Isidure Okyne, Beach

1 — Shane Summerlin, Benedictine
2 — Alex Wendell, South Effingham
3 — Wade Hall, Effingham County
4 — Steven Ellison, Hephzibah
5 — Chris Bush, Battery Creek
6 — Brian Greene, Beach

1 — Kevin Ulmer, Effingham County
2 — Alex Tavarez, Cross Creek
3 — Brad Boyd, South Effingham
4 — Otis Wilson, Beach
5 — Josh Whelan, Benedictine
6 — C.J. Powell, Beaufort County

1 — Zach Gillam, Effingham County
2 — Lewis Powers, Cross Creek
3 — Mike Wetmore, Bluffton
4 — Stevens Melando, Beach
5 — Cody Brown, South Effingham
6 — Joey Karcher, Benedictine

1 — Josh Jameson, South Effingham
2 — Patrick Boulware, Bluffton
3 — Bruce Smith, Effingham County
4 — Nate Washington, Savannah Arts Acad.
5 — Derek Frazier, Battery Creek
6 — Scott Clark, Benedictine

1 — Ryan Koons, Bluffton
2 — Cameron Collum, South Effingham
3 — Matt Heinrich, Battery Creek
4 — Ryan Frederick, Effingham County
5 — Will Moore, Metter
6 — Trevor Stevenson, Benedictine

1 — Ricky Peavey, Bluffton
2 — Chad Tucker, South Effingham
3 — Tieler Schabbing, Battery Creek
4 — Alex Tran, Cross Creek
5 — Matt Power, Beaufort County
6 — Nick Cannon, Effingham County

1 — David Miller, Battery Creek
2 — Robbie Collum, South Effingham
3 — Cinnegar White, Benedictine
4 — James Drew, Bluffton
5 — T.K. Kennedy, Beaufort County
6 — Kenny Drayton, Cross Creek

1 — Tyler Rosenlieb, Bluffton
2 — Drew Brackett, Benedictine
3 — Luke Johnson, Battery Creek
4 — Brandon Macklunis, Effingham County
5 — Troy Longo, Metter
6 — Morris Hutchins, Cross Creek

1 — Ryan Gregory, Benedictine
2 — Ricky Gonzales, Bluffton
3 — Travis Wynn, Beaufort County
4 — Jarrell Roberts, Battery Creek
5 — Patrick Province, Cross Creek
6 — Iraj O’Bryant, Hephzibah

1 — Cory Campbell, Hephzibah
2 — Devaughn Wright, Richmond Academy
3 — Tyler Ellis, Battery Creek
4 — Avery Bragg, South Effingham
5 — Aaron Casper, Cross Creek
6 — Willie Bellamy, Savannah

1 — Bobby Liggins, Hephzibah*
2 — Stedman Washington, Battery Creek
3 — Adam Morse, South Effingham
4 — Daniel Holloway, Metter
5 — David Lopez, Bluffton
6 — Chris Hamilton, Effingham County

1 — Chris Scott, Benedictine
2 — Brandon Huggins, South Effingham
3 — Troy Dolin, Bluffton
4 — Scott Ellis, Battery Creek

* = named outstanding wrestler