UNION COUNTY — The region champion UCHS Yellow Jacket wrestling team has continued to deliver winning performances, and they are ready to host playoff matches for the first time this weekend.
Individual Region Championships
The Union County Yellow Jackets already held the region championship as a team when they traveled to Chester High School last weekend for individual region championships.
Out of 14 weight classes, Union County had 10 wrestlers who wrestled in the finals for either first or second place.
“Only four of our guys won, but it would have been five if our 145 — Dylan Beheler — didn’t have to injury default,” said Coach G.B. McDaniel.
Winners and individual region champions from Union County were as follows:
• 113 — Ethan Pendleton
• 126 — Shameek White
• 195 — Christian Petty
• 285 — Octavius Thompson
“We expected Ethan, Shameek, and Christian to win but Octavius winning was a shining light,” McDaniel said, explaining that Thompson had lost to his Chester opponent at the team’s last region match.
McDaniel said Thompson’s previous loss against Chester was upsetting to him because the team’s match with Chester was very close, but it inspired him to redeem himself.
“Octavius is a competitor and hates to lose — that’s what I love about him,” McDaniel said. “He apologized after that match with Chester. I told him we would work on it and he would beat that guy. He did just that. Octavius destroyed the Chester kid in the finals. It was the best we had ever seen him wrestle. He looked like a wrestler for the first time.”
McDaniel said Thompson has a good chance at a state championship this year as long as he wrestles like he did in that tournament.
McDaniel pointed out that Labrayon Woods also avenged a loss to Chester, pinning his opponent in the 3rd period to make the finals. McDaniel said Woods then wrestled a Chapman wrestler who is ranked in the state and picked by some to win state.
“Labrayon wrestled that kid tough only losing an 8-6 match,” McDaniel said. “Labrayon made a few mistakes, but he can correct them. He is a freshman who has a real chance to make state. He has unbelievable talent, but we need him to push himself harder and he will be one of the best ever — not only in Union but the state.”
McDaniel said the tournament was important for wrestlers individually because it seeds them for Upper State Championships, and the four Union County wrestlers who won will each have No. 1 seeds at Upper State.
The results from the tournament are as follows:
• 106 — Jacob Gregory — 2nd
• 113 — Ethan Pendleton — 1st
• 120 — Jarvis Stewart — 4th
• 126 — Shameek White — 1st
• 132 — Cole Seymore — 3rd
• 138 — Tykeil Fleming — 4th
• 145 — Dylan Beheler — 2nd
• 152 — Tavante Woods — 3rd
• 160 — Devin Vanderford — 2nd
• 170 — Luis Gallegos — 2nd
• 182 — Labrayon Woods — 2nd
• 195 — Christian Petty — 1st
• 220 — Chase Puckett — 2nd
• 285 — Octavius Thompson — 1st
On Monday, the Yellow Jackets traveled to Berea to make up a match they had missed due to weather. Coach McDaniel said the team got off to a rough start because some of his wrestlers were not on weight and some are injured.
“It’s kind of difficult to be on weight when you’ve only practiced once in almost a week, so all the teams were facing the same issues,” McDaniel said. “We wrestled some of our JV guys up on varsity and we still pulled out two wins.”
The Yellow Jackets defeated Newberry in their first match and Travelers Rest in their second match. The team did not wrestle Berea because they had already beat them twice this year. McDaniel said JV wrestlers who stepped up included Zack Valentine, who won both matches, and Jarvis Stewart.
This weekend’s playoff matches
UCHS Wrestling will host its first ever playoff matches at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 8, in the UCHS Gymnasium.
Four teams will be represented and will wrestle the first two rounds of the playoffs. Union County is the No. 1 seed and will take on the No. 4 seed Camden on Mat 1. BHP is the No. 2 seed and will take on the No. 3 seed Greenville on Mat 2. The winners will then face off in the second round.
“We fully expect to win both matches,” McDaniel said. “BHP is a really tough team, but we did beat them at a tournament this year and I feel we match up well.”
McDaniel said the team has a legit shot to win its first three rounds and make the Upper State Championship, most likely facing Eastside, the returning state champions.
“If the kids will turn it on and make this last push, we could win this thing,” he said. “It will all start Saturday in that first match against Camden to see if our guys show up or not.”
Yellow Jacket Wrestling finished the season with a record of 25-5 and only four losses to four 4A teams and one loss to Eastside, a 3A team.
“This has been a great season so far, but we are far from reaching our goal,” McDaniel said.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234.