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Wrestlers make Hilton Head trip worth their while
Mustangs finish third, Rebels seventh
Effingham County’s Zach Gilliam took third place in the 135-pound division at the individual tournament portion of the Seahawk Duals. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Morse pins

Adam Morse gets a victory by pin.

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285 consolation

Effingham County's Michael King takes third place in the 285-pound class by pinning South Effingham's Brandon Huggins.

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A weekend at Hilton Head Island was no ordinary day at the beach for the Effingham County and South Effingham wrestling teams.

The Rebels and Mustangs took part in Hilton Head High School’s Seahawk Duals, with the Mustangs taking third and the Rebels finishing seventh in Friday’s dual competition and then hitting the mats for the individual tournament Saturday.

Three Mustangs — Robbie Collum (152 pounds), Zac Nelson (160) and Adam Morse (189) — captured individual weight class titles. The Rebels and Mustangs each had two runner-up finishes, with Wade Hall (119) and Kevin Ulmer (125) taking second for Effingham County and Jason Screen (135) and Chad Tucker (140) finishing second for South Effingham.

“Overall, I was pleased with our kids and their effort and their performance,” Mustangs coach Tom Onorato said.

“They work hard, and they want to do well.”

All four finals losses came against wrestlers from Chesterfield (S.C.) High. Hall lost a close match 6-4, and Ian Harper of Chesterfield beat Ulmer 7-2. Chesterfield’s Dalton Harper beat Tucker 5-3 in overtime, and Trey Alley pinned Screen in the second period.  

“I was surprised at the quality of competition,” Rebels coach Chris Hardin said. “In a 12-team tournament, it was pretty good.”

Kyle Piche (103), Zach Gilliam (135), Desmand Washington (189) and Michael King (285) captured third-place finishes for the Rebels, winning their respective matches in the consolation finals. King pinned South Effingham’s Brandon Huggins in the battle for third, and Piche won by pin after trailing 5-0 in his match.

“Kyle was relentless,” Hardin said. “He never let up.”

Bruce Smith had a fourth-place finish for the Rebels. Huggins, Alex Wendell (119) and Cameron Collum (145) had fourth-place finishes. Wendell lost in overtime to Zach Noel of Whitnall (Wisc.) and Collum, after a 17-14 loss in the semifinals to Van Metre of Bishop England (S.C.), fell 9-8 in the third-place match.

“He’s listening and making adjustments, and he’s getting better,” Onorato said of Cameron Collum.

The Mustangs beat Hilton Head’s B team 60-6 and beat Berkeley (S.C.) 51-20 in pool play. Hilton Head beat South Effingham 45-30, and the Mustangs rebounded to beat Battery Creek 38-30.

“We wrestled hard,” Onorato said. “We started out slow, but the main thing I liked is the way we wrestled our last match and we were willing to learn from our mistakes from the previous three matches. After that tough loss to Hilton Head, they found a way to beat Battery Creek.”

In the dual matches, the Mustangs started off down 12 points because they forfeited two weight classes.

“I have to give a lot of credit to the kids,” Onorato said. “Our young guys are learning. There are some encouraging things we’re seeing. They try to do the things we ask them to. As a coach, you can’t ask for more.”

He also believes seeing the different wrestlers and their styles will help his team down the road.

The Rebels beat Charlotte (N.C.) Country Day 60-18 in their first duals match, but fell 41-33 to Battery Creek in the next round.

Whitnall edged Effingham 39-33 before the Rebels closed out the duals with a 54-21 win over Berkeley.

The Rebels will take part in the Wildcat Invitational at Valdosta this weekend and the Mustangs go to Groves for the Toomey Invitational.