Sims Middle School wrestler Luke Dill dominated a tournament in Virginia Beach, Va., over the weekend, not only winning his division, but also being named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
The tournament featured competition among wrestlers from 14 states.
Dill, 14, was entered into the 135-pound division but was bumped up to the 145-pound class by the tournament director.
“There was only one other kid in that division and the director moved Luke up so that he’d get more matches,” explained Union County and Sims Middle Wrestling Coach G.B. McDaniel. “There were a couple of studs in that weight class that I really thought Luke may struggle with. I told Luke, ‘It doesn’t matter — you are here to wrestle the best anyway.’ That’s what he did.”
Dill started off shaky in his first match before defeating his opponent.
“He was probably a little tired because we didn’t get into Virginia Beach till 2 a.m. that morning, and he was wrestling by 9 a.m.,” offered McDaniel.”The second match, he still wrestled slow but beat a tough, strong kid.”
Dill finished strong, collecting his second and third wins of the tournament and building confidence in the process.
“He pinned a kid in his third match to advance to the next two guys that were strong, 145-pound wrestlers,” McDaniel said. “We had already watched both of the guys wrestle and Luke told me, ‘I can win this coach.’ I told him we believed in him and we didn’t see any reason he couldn’t. I told him not to lock up and just wrestle his style.”
McDaniel said coaching Dill is both enjoyable and difficult because he has his own style — one he described as methodical.
“It looks like slow motion but he somehow manages to score all the time,” McDaniel laughed. “I love it, but at the same time it drives me crazy!”
McDaniel said he had built up confidence by the fourth match as he came out on fire and dominated.
Dill made it to the final match with an opponent who caused Dill’s slow, methodical style to transform into aggression.
“The guy messed up when he and Luke went out of bounds because he shoved Luke after the whistle,” McDaniel said. “This put Luke into aggressive mode. Luke came out, shot on the kid, picked him up and slammed him down for two points. Luke never relinquished the lead and won the match.”
Dill not only won first place, but he was voted Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.
“The director told me that with Luke wrestling up a weight class and beating that last kid, who was considered a really good kid around Virginia, they felt he did the best job,” McDaniel said.
Dill is the son of Chris and Crystal Dill. Chris has been a volunteer coach for Union County for six years, and McDaniel said he is a huge part of the wrestling team’s success. Chris is the assistant coach for the Sims Tigers wrestling team and also assists with the Jacket Wrestling Club and the weightlifting program.
“He has had four boys come through the UC school system and all have wrestled and done well,” McDaniel said. “His other three sons are all older than Luke and have been teaching him wrestling since he was old enough to walk. I am expecting Luke to win state championships and maybe go on to bigger things.”
Dill was one of five wrestlers McDaniel took to the tournament to represent South Carolina. UCHS eleventh-graders Quintin Kershaw and Dustin Grady competed, as well as Dorman’s Hector Contreras — who wrestles as part of the Jacket Wrestling Club — and Conway’s Kollin Wade — who McDaniel coached as part of Team Palmetto last year. Contreras also won the tournament’s 120-pound weight class in the high school division, and Wade won second place in the 120-pound division.
McDaniel said he enjoyed being part of the tournament as much as his students, and he was glad to see them compete successfully against students from states which are better known for wrestling such as Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio.
“South Carolina is not known for going to other states and doing very well in wrestling — that’s why this weekend was a big deal to me,” McDaniel said. “We are trying to raise the bar in South Carolina for wrestling, and we are growing every year.”
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